Alice has a true vocation to disabled children – and now it’s been nationally recognised

Meet Alice Bent – one of only seven finalists in the entire country for the Newly Qualified Children’s Social Worker of the Year Award. Her dedication to helping disabled children is a true vocation for her.

The 23-year-old, originally from South Wales, is still early in her career but has been working with disabled children since she was a teenager - both for charities and in a special needs school.

That background and passion to improve lives led her to take a degree in Social Work at Oxford Brookes University and she’s now a key member of Oxfordshire County Council’s Children’s Disability Team, part of Oxfordshire County Council’s Children’s Social Care team which strives to give every child a good start in life and has an annual budget of £77m to care more than 780 children as well as care leavers in early adulthood.

A privilege

“It’s a privilege to be nominated for a national award for a job I am passionate about doing on a daily basis,” said Alice

“I support disabled children who have complex needs, working with their families and other professionals, such as physiotherapists, teachers and psychologists, in a variety of ways. It all helps children have a good quality of life in their families.

“Children without disabilities are often in care because of abuse or neglect but this can also happen to disabled children and some of my job can involve court processes if there are serious concerns about abuse and neglect with a child.”

“We in the disability team tend to stay as the social worker for a given child for longer periods and that gives us the opportunity to build strong relationships with them and their parents and siblings.

“A typical day for me could include home visits to children, meetings about individual cases, writing reports and direct work with children. The job can often be emotive, challenging but can equally be very rewarding.”

“My focus on working with a disabled child is to focus on what what they are able to do as opposed to what they are not. Even with the most complex of children there is always a way to help and communicate.”

“Working for the disability team is certainly different in nature to that of other teams within children’s social care. Complexities can make disclosure when abuse or neglect is occurring much more difficult to achieve as a child may not be able to communicate clearly. Detailed observation is required.”

“I have recently embarked upon some specialist trauma training – studying the impact that abuse and neglect can have over a long period and how you recover .

“It’s challenging work, but I enjoy my job”.

Real level of expertise

Lucy Butler, Director for Children’s Social Care at Oxfordshire County Council, said: “We’re proud of Alice, she’s a passionate and committed social worker who is building up a real level of expertise in her area of social care work. We congratulate her on being shortlisted for this award and we look forward to seeing her career progress.”