You will be closely working with your child's social worker during the time your child is involved in the child welfare system. Below are sets of tips to help make the outcome of your case a successful one.
- Provide your child with needed clothes and personal items to help them be more comfortable if placed outside of the home.
- Visit on a regular basis agreed on with the social worker and notify in advance if you can't make it.
- Work with the social worker in setting up a plan for your child's future including what you need to do in that plan.
- Work toward solving the problems which have caused the abuse or neglect. The court may order you to do specific things. The social worker is assigned to help you with referrals for things ordered.
- Keep the social worker informed of changes in your life like address, phone number, a change in employment status, marriage/divorce or other changes that may affect the plan for your child.
- Keep appointments with social workers and other professionals or inform them in advance if you can't make it.
- Provide information about your child like medical, school, or information that may affect the plan for your child.
- Talk about your child's care and progress with the social worker.
- Contribute to the cost of providing care for the child.
How to get your child returned:
- Be present at court for every hearing about your child.
- Make it safe for your child to come home.
- Comply with what is asked or ordered of you to complete for yourself.
What to do if you run into problems with the social worker:
- Start with the social worker and stay respectful even if you have good reason to be angry or upset with what is happening. Document your attempt to work with the social worker.
- If the above does not work then next step is to go to the supervisor for that social worker and share what you have documented in your efforts to work with the social worker and ask for intervention. Document your attempt to work with the supervisor.
- If that is not helpful then go to the Office Administrator who is over the supervisor and share your documentation of efforts to work with the social worker and supervisor and that you still need to resolve outstanding issues.
- If that does not work, the last resort is the Office of Family and Children's Ombudsman at 1-800-571-7321.
Helpful tips in working with your social worker:
- Avoid displaying anger; it will be misinterpreted as an anger problem. Maintain a professional manner if possible.
- Check in with the social worker on a regular basis so they can document your progress. Once a week is good.
- Ask questions if you are not sure of what needs to be done and take notes.
- Keep track of the names and phone numbers of all the important people involved, and e-mail addresses. You should have your own notebook to keep this organized and up to date.
- Keep track of important dates like next court hearing, next professional meeting date or father support group date.
Adapted for Washington State use from the American Humane Association's, Fatherhood Toolkit