Most importantly, good written agreements focus on results for the child “Some adults are asked to sign written agreements that they are not in contact with an abusive partner or that they do not let them into the home and have no contact with that partner,” says Schooling. Everything looks familiar. Before, as a social worker in the community, I was very frustrated when I was asked to write a written agreement in which a parent promised not to do anything that was illegal. If they are prepared to oppose the law of the land, what is the point of a written agreement? I was going to advance the argument of “cover la`s back” – they are often used to put parents on a failure, signing an agreement that is broken, so that it will provide evidence for a court that the parent cannot trust. Agreements written in the context of domestic abuse were also questioned in Ayeeshia-Jayne Smith`s serious magazine. The author, Jenny Myers, said: “They can be effective if adults and s`s are at the heart of their development, feel they can meet realistic expectations, and they are aware of the consequences of their non-compliance.” She says that this area of practice needs more work to see if there are ways to transfer services “much more clearly” to the culprits. The first thing to understand is that whatever it is called, a waiting contract is not a contract. A contract is a binding agreement between two or more parties (persons or legal bodies) that can be enforced by a court. This is not a contract law conference, but in simple terms, there are three fundamental components of a contract, and without all three, it is not a contract: just because a waiting contract is not a contract does not mean that it is a waste of time. In fact, they are important – and when you are asked to sign one, it means that social services are worried about your children and are trying to find ways to manage or assess the risk they are worried about. The best way to think about one of these agreements is for their goal to be five times longer: over time, they are part of the accepted social work apparatus.
We see how they are used over and over again. However, little or no formal research supporting their use. As a sector, do we need to talk about how and when written agreements should be used? Personally, that is what I think. When parents sign an agreement, it will generally be clear that there may be consequences if they do not comply. Sometimes these consequences are really clearly explained: for example, if the parents resume their relationship or if substances are found at home, the local authority will try to abduct the children (usually by requesting an order from the family court). It is beneficial for everyone to have a clear expectation, because a parent who knows that the local authority is serious is more likely to abide by their agreement, which in turn will assure social workers that they do not have to act now. One of the things that social workers need to manage is how much a parent can count on them to be honest with them, including things that are not going well and with things they have to deal with. It is more difficult for a social worker to feel that a child can be kept safe at home, if they do not feel that the parent is open with them (and does not know what is actually going on in the home or in the lives of parents/children), so often an agreement will explicitly say that one of the expectations is that parents will be open and honest, or it could list some things that social workers expect one of the parents to know (drug relapses, a violent ex who appears at the door, decreased mental health).