Social worker retires after almost four decades helping children

This story was published 1 April 2021

Long-serving social worker Hilary Musgrave – who has helped improve the lives of countless foster children over almost four decades in North Yorkshire is retiring.

A photo of social worker Hilary Musgrave at her desk

Hilary joined North Yorkshire County Council in 1983 after moving to England from Dublin and her career path of working predominantly with children had already been set.By the early 1990s she was working as part of the fostering team and has gone on to support young people needing care and the families who have chosen to look after them.

Her long career means she may be the county’s most experienced social worker and she has timed her departure around her caseload, to ensure a smooth transition.

Much of her time has been spent working in the Knaresborough and Skipton districts and while she has seen many changes over the decades in the way the fostering system operates, she said her colleagues had been consistently good. “My colleagues are very special and they are a big percentage of the job and achieving job satisfaction,” she said. “I have worked with different teams and different people. They have always been a great bunch of colleagues, right up to and including those I work with currently.”

Her role as Supervising Social Worker for the Fostering Team West has helped ensure children have had the best possible result from their time in foster care, regardless of how long that might be.

Today there is more preventative support available to families to help them resolve potential problems before they escalate. “I can think of many examples from the late 1970s and early 1980s where children were cared for exceptionally well but what is different now is that, hopefully, we do much better planning for children,” she said.

Support social workers are there to help foster families through difficulties and Hilary said foster families come from a diverse range of backgrounds and those who themselves are “extraordinary people and it has been a privilege to work with them.”

An early taste of social work was being asked to get involved in a recruitment event for foster carers in the first days of her career, in Dublin.

Hilary Musgrave at her graduation ceremony

That sparked an interest which saw her increasingly involved in work with children until she joined North Yorkshire’s fostering and adoption team, as it then was, in 1990. “If I had not enjoyed it and found it satisfying and worthwhile I would not stayed in social work and would not have been doing the job I have been doing in North Yorkshire,” she said.

Hilary has worked successfully for many years with foster carers and supported them to care for many children & young people.

Karen Forrester, Fostering Team Manager North West, said: “Hilary will be missed by many foster carers and numerous colleagues not just from the fostering service but from the wider social work teams.

“Hilary’s career is a demonstration of the rewarding and fulfilling careers which are available to those with an interest in social work.

“I would like to thank Hilary for all her very many years of hard work and commitment to the fostering service and to the profession of social work.”

Cllr Janet Sanderson, Executive Member for Children’s Services, said: “Hilary has been a very committed member of the North Yorkshire team and has made a tremendous contribution to the lives of very many children.

“Her work in North Yorkshire is an example of the fulfilling careers available in social work and demonstrates how individuals can have a very positive impact on the lives of others by choosing to work in that field.”