Social workers may use documentation to make notes on the current living conditions of children, report the physical appearance of abuse victims or write down the responses of a client during an interview. They also use documentation to make official reports under various scenarios, fill out forms for completing specific actions relating to children and give the appropriate law enforcement agencies written proof of events.
Much of the work a social worker does involves documentation in some form to ensure the creation of a proper written record of events. For example, a social worker visiting a the family of a child the school suspects is the victim of abuse uses documentation to describe the physical appearance of the child, the condition of her home and the reactions of the parents to the accusations. She may then include the documentation in an official report for the county social services department or the school district.
Social workers also document similar characteristics on follow-up visits to families under investigation of child abuse or endangerment. The social worker often has a list of the previous nature of the report, such as a dirty home or drug use by parents, and documents the improvements made on those fronts, if any. A social worker makes notes during interviews of children and adults, such as when a child reports abuse from a parent. She may share this documentation with law enforcement to serve as part of a criminal investigation, when necessary.