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9.1 Social Worker Visits


  1. Normal Frequency
  2. Exceptions
  3. Who must be Seen?
  4. Purpose
  5. Recording

1. Normal Frequency


Wherever a Child Looked After is placed, the child's social worker must visit the child in the placement at the following intervals, subject to the exceptions in Section 2, Exceptions:

  • On the day the child is placed, to assist in the placement process;
  • Within one week of the placement;
  • Then at intervals of no more than six weeks during the first year of the placement;
  • In subsequent years, at intervals of no more than three months.
1.2 Note that these are minimum requirements and the Looked After Review may recommend more frequent visits.
1.3 The child's social worker must also visit the child immediately when a complaint is received from the child or from another person relating to the child concerning the standard of care they are receiving. This applies to all new placements where, for example, a child moves from one placement to another.
1.4 Some visits must be unannounced. The carers, parent or residential unit must be informed by the child's social worker at the time of placing that there will be occasional unannounced visits and the reason for this explained.
1.5 Meetings involving a child e.g. Looked After Review, do not in themselves, constitute a visit, unless time is taken outside of the meeting to talk with and spend time with the child.
1.6 The child's social worker must on occasion take the child out from the placement (for example for a snack or a visit to a park) as this can strengthen the relationship between the child and the social worker and is also in the interests of child protection in that the child may feel more able to discuss issues that are of concern to him/her. 

2. Exceptions

2.1 Where the placement is with relatives or friends, the social worker must visit the child weekly until the carers have been approved - see Placement with Family and Friends Procedure.
2.2 Where the placement is for a series of short-term placements, the child's social worker must visit the child within the first 7 placement days (being days when the child is placed) and thereafter every six months.
2.3 Visits must be made more frequently if circumstances require and whenever reasonably requested by the child or the staff/carer.

3. Who must be Seen?

3.1 Wherever possible, the child must be seen alone (unless the child of sufficient age and maturity and refuses). If this is not possible, a further visit must be made at short notice in order that the child can be seen alone and observed with the staff/carer.
3.2 The social worker must be aware of who else lives in the placement and they must know about changes in structure and composition as well as the relationships within the household or unit.
3.3 For children who are not able to verbally communicate their views, the social worker must ensure that observations of the child are made in their placement and also in other settings, for example, school. Information and opinion must also be gathered from other professionals about their presentation.
3.4 On some occasions, the social worker must also arrange to visit at times when all members of a household can be seen; or for children's homes, a significant number of adults and children.
3.5 Social workers must consider the balance of time spent with staff/carers and with children during a statutory visit. The social worker must prioritise their time with the child as opposed to the staff/carer. Issues raised by staff/carers can be discussed when a child is not present for example when they are at school.
3.6 Social workers must provide feedback to staff/carers regarding their visit.

4. Purpose


The purpose of the visit is to ensure the placement continues to promote the child's welfare and in particular:

  • To give the child the opportunity to express his or her wishes, feelings and views;
  • To advise, assist and befriend the child and to ascertain who they would turn to in times of difficulty; 
  • To promote an effective relationship between the child and social worker with particular reference to the role of the social worker as a link with the child's history and birth family;
  • To identify daily routines including getting up and going to bed, meal times (including whether the children in the placement all eat together), the arrangements for washing and whether the child is provided with privacy and support that is relevant to his or her stage of development;
  • To identify arrangements for holiday and leisure time including playing games, access to clubs, cultural and sporting activities;
  • To identify what special arrangements are made to meet any needs that arise from their culture, religious or heritage including communication, diet and skin/hair care;
  • To observe the child with the staff/carer/parent and to analyse parenting styles and the promotion of the child's self-esteem;
  • To monitor the standard of care offered by the placement including the physical standards, house rules and behaviour management strategies;
  • To identify whether there are toys or games to play with and the access that the child has to them;
  • To monitor how the contact arrangements with family members and friends are working and to discover whether these are promoted within the home;
  • To consider the child's sleeping arrangements such as room sharing, display of personal belongings and the physical state of the room. Has the child got clean clothes that are stored appropriately?
  • To identify any areas where additional support is required;
  • To evaluate whether the placement is helping to achieve the objectives of the child's CLA Plan, with particular reference to whether the placement is meeting the educational, health and social development needs of the child. Where it is a long-term/permanent placement, the social worker must observe whether there are signs that the child is an integral part of the family, such as whether they are included in photographs on display;
  • To carry out specific casework tasks with the child, for example carrying out a programme of life story work;
  • To identify whether older children are encouraged to play an increasing part in their own care such as laundry, food preparation and the purchase of food, clothes and budgeting;
  • To identify the arrangements for the child to get support with school work, do homework (including where appropriate, access to a computer) and visit a library. Do the carers attend parent's evenings?
  • To identify whether the child knows about the Comments, Compliments and Complaints Procedure and the availability of advocacy services;
  • To monitor that the Health Care Assessment is stored safely, is up to date and is accessible to the child as appropriate to the child's age and understanding.

Social workers visiting children with disabilities and/or complex health needs must also consider the following:

  • Whether practices that are being employed are appropriate and do not compromise the child's safety e.g. the method of lifting a disabled child;
  • Does the carer have sufficient equipment i.e. bath chair / hoist etc?
  • Who arranges the child's health appointments and who attends? For children in residential placements in particular, is there consistency of worker? (See also Administration of Medication Procedure);
  • Is there clear written information re the administration of medication?
4.3 It may not be possible for a social worker to gain all the information listed in one visit but they must try to obtain a holistic view of the placement.
4.4 When visiting children in residential settings the social worker must read the daily records to gain an understanding of recent events and also to identify any themes highlighted in the recording for example, behaviour and staff strategies for managing situations.

5. Recording


The social worker must record each visit, within 2 working days, stating clearly:

  • Who was seen;
  • Whether the child was seen and if not why not;
  • Whether the child was seen alone;
  • Any comments made by the child or the staff/carers/parents;
  • Any matters of concern or difficulties;
  • Any observations on the child’s welfare and the success of the placement;
  • Any requirements for action.


Quality Assurance

5.2.1 The team manager should review visits in supervision around timeliness and standards of visit.
5.2.2 The IRO should evaluate visits as part of LAC review and make recommendations, if necessary.