A Challenging Job
The 80 appreciative professionals who attended my workshops frequently write reports summarizing the conditions, progress, and needs of children—often under trying circumstances. Some have to turn in reports indicating that a child’s well being is at stake. Since time is of the essence in such situations, the case worker is doubly challenged to produce thorough and clear documents. If litigation comes into play, these reports will end up before a judge who must decide what is in the child’s best interest. No small task for the case worker.
During the sessions, I encouraged the participants to write to the point by addressing the critical questions that their readers would ask about the reportable situation. Below are the two main tips that the program participants took away from the sessions.
1. State the point first and the supporting details later. Example:
- She was left alone in her apartment for at least one hour.
- She allowed the case worker to enter her apartment although she did not know him.
- She stated that she walks three blocks home each school day without supervision.
- She said that she was home alone each school day “until dark.”
- She cannot reach her foster mother on her mobile phone because it has been disconnected.
2. Make every word count. Example:
WORDY (22 words)
The purpose of this report is to summarize the visit that was made by the case worker to the child’s foster home.
CONCISE (12 words)
This report summarizes the case worker’s visit to the foster child’s home.
The truth is that all professionals must write clearly and concisely on the fly. Yet every field has its challenges of getting to the point. A refresher writing course designed and delivered with your business objectives in mind is a good way to focus on writing to the point.