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Child Welfare and Barefoot Social Work

The case has to be analyzed from a micro level as it involves specific individuals, namely children, in one family unit. Although there are a few human service workers who could be involved in this case study, two of which I personally feel would best assist the children in the situation would be Child Welfare and Barefoot Social Work. This paper will discuss Child Welfare and Barefoot Social Work in relation to the problem as well as my rationale on why they are suited to help this family.

Child Welfare Worker

As the title strongly suggest, Child Welfare examines the set of government service designed to investigate alleged child abuse, neglect, foster care and support for at-risk families so they can be assisted to function towards normalcy as well as to investigate the following problems: parents failing to protect their children from harm; emotional abuse, sexual abuse as well as physical abuse among the children.

Looking at the situation provided, the children have been exposed to a considerable amount of neglect: malnourishment; lack of parental love, support and care (parents have criminal background and mental disabilities); and decent physical upbringing (lack of hygiene, rampant drug and alcohol abuse in the presence of the

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children). Preliminary analysis for the Child Welfare worker will begin with gathering as detailed as possible the information of the family, collect testimonial information on the children from their school teachers, babysitters, neighbors, and other relatives that have been in contact with the children. This is crucial for a collective perspective on the situation as well as to fully comprehend what the children are exposed to. The children will have to be clinically tested to further examine their medical condition. A child welfare officer will need to know if the children will be dependent on any medication as the 2-year-old girl already shows high lead content in her blood. Future medical risks later in their adult life need to also be identified. Should these children be offered for adoption, future parents will need to fully realize what they have in their hands.  By doing all of the above, the social welfare officer will need to establish a relationship with the family, especially the children. They will not cooperate with someone whom they feel will not be sincere and have empathy with what they are undergoing. The children, for instance, would be frightened, confused and weak to talk to strangers and deal with attention. The parents on the other hand may retaliate, be defensive as well as strike back with anger, shame and provide a series of inconsistent information.

Once the situation and information have been dealt with, the social worker will need to fully identify the main areas as problems that need to be handled immediately, subsequently, and progressively.  Though the children are the main concern, they cannot be removed immediately from their family unit. Legal aspects of custody have to be fully studied by the worker so he/she does not violate any custodial laws, as the children are not without any other family members. However, until remaining family members are proven as unfit, the children cannot be considered for adoption or foster care. Monitoring and evaluation of the children’s health and mental progress have to show signs of improvement. It is also important that the future family that will adopt the children be carefully examined so the children’s progress is uphill and consistent. Heavy assessment of counseling will need to be done as the children have had anything but a normal childhood. Their perception of what is normal is not the same as other children their age. These children have had no proper guidance. For instance, for the 2-year-old girl with a penchant for starting fires and aggression, these are symptomatic of future abusive behavior. The one-year-old needs to be trained to eat and worked on his developmental so he catches up with the children his age when he begins preschool.

When young children are raised in a destructive family, it is difficult to re-set the physical and psychological damages. Based on this family unit, the children have been so mentally abused and physically neglected by unfit parents, certain aspects of their childhood can be mended but a few will remain severed. For instance the aggression, and slow developmental due to heredity. Though counseling can aid the aggression, the high lead content as well as conditioned violence will require a lot of effort for re-adjustment. Since mental disability, retardation and poor health seems to run through the family, special education may need to be considered. Even a change of diet may be challenging, as the children are not familiar with proper meals. I would say the biggest concentration should be placed on human development and growth. Personally, I do not think that understanding family dynamics will matter much for the children, as the parents have been poor role models with little if no interest in their children.  The focus on “repairing” these children is how they can develop and function as healthier human beings without emphasis on parental support like other children. They need to learn about their own social diversity – being children of mixed parentage, how to accept their “different” childhood and not be ashamed of who they are when they are old enough to understand their predicament. It is important that the children learn not to blame themselves for what has happened.

An ethical consideration for a child welfare worker in this situation would be discrimination. Others would be social and economic status. A welfare social worker cannot use the fact that the family comes from a lower class and poor education background against the children, or the parents themselves. A social worker may have a stronger and sincere sense of empathy, sympathy and compassionate than others for choosing to be in this field. However, that does not make one less of a human being. Prejudice, discrimination and bias may interfere with one’s evaluation if the worker is not assertive and intelligent in handling the case. For instance, a non-ethical worker can place little interest in his desire to help because the family has a poor status with substance abuse, criminal and low education background. He may reckon that the family is not worth saving or that the children cannot be adjusted as they have a family history of aggression, poor health and mental retardation. Thus, the worker has to consistently remind him/herself that priority is on the children’s welfare with hope for a better life (and that deserve it), and that it is not up to the worker to judge the entire family, but to provide assistance in helping them function better, and that the children, most notably, have better chances of survival in a better environment.

Barefoot Social Worker

            A barefoot social worker would be necessary in handling this family, as every member of the unit is dysfunctional. Above all, it provides the knowledge the social worker can use to help him/her handle the family with the appropriate ethics and attitude without becoming affected by the family’s destructive behaviors. Because the nature of social work can be arduous, the social worker can be overcome by a sense of hopelessness, emotional grief and disappointment when conflicts become challenging. And because children are involved, it is crucial for the social worker to be creative and constructive in handling the situation as enthusiastic, practical and assertive as possible. When cases as complex such as this occur, social workers need the encouragement to realize that their work is a fantastic work and that it takes a lot of courage and effort to deal with people who are violent, abusive, sickly, and people without hope, and such.

The children, in particular, will need a battery of assessments by a mental health professional because of their age and developmental vulnerability.  Looking at the situation, a mental health professional would need to conduct diagnostics tests on the children, conduct a series of observation and interview the other family members. The purpose is to gather as concise as possible details of the problems the children have undergone and the extend of their trauma, abuse and neglect. For instance, the child would most likely be reluctant to speak to a professional thus only through close observation would the worker be able to gather information and proceed later with his evaluation. For a barefoot social worker, this process will allow them to form a relationship with the children to make them build trust and to understand that the worker is not an intruder trying to take them away from the only family they know. As the children begin to open up or become closer to the worker to allow them to be observed and handled, the worker has to assess their mental state of being and measure problems of their disabilities. They will need to be observed on how they react to certain situations, food, as well as physical contact. The series of evaluation is crucial for the barefoot social worker to construct creative ways in dealing with the situation, especially when the children are difficult to handle. The worker will also have to cooperate with the child welfare worker to periodically assess and evaluate the children as part of monitoring progress. A crucial part of being a barefoot social worker is to understand how the victims can be freed from their destructive behavior patterns, and to help them achieve that. It is also important that the barefoot social worker guide the victims to increase their self-esteem, accept them as independent souls with hope, dreams and room for recovery, and not the failures they may appear to be in the light of their situation.

Similar to a childcare officer, an area that will be utilized by a barefoot social worker is greatly human development and growth. Because the children have been greatly affected during their formative years, so much needs to be done in understanding their psycho-developmental process. To a great extend, it is fortunate that the children are still young thus, a lot of the painful experience would be numbed until later in their older years. However, their over-exposure to violence, abuse and poor health condition will add to their state of confusion. They may not understand the meaning of family dynamics but will need to guide onto the correct path where their growths are concerned. For the barefoot social worker, he will need to find the gentlest way to assist these children in finding a normal lifestyle and to cushion the effects of abuse, neglect and sickness they have suffered from.

For both workers, having empathy, compassion, patience and experiences dealing with diversity is crucial. It goes without saying that the workers need to understand the situation these children are in especially if they have never gone through similar experiences. They do not have to be victims themselves, but it does greatly help with tolerance and self-awareness to be familiar with the emotional trauma, pressure of living with poverty and racial diversity.

Ethically, a barefoot social worker needs to be careful to not get oneself emotionally involved with the victims of the case. For instance, the long duration of being in the presence of small, innocent children may cause one to be overly protective and overly sympathetic.  The worker also cannot create, harbor or display any unfavorable feelings toward the parents, siblings or relatives that failed to raise them properly. A worker must remind oneself, the issue in question is to push them forward toward a better life, not beat down their past. That is why a barefoot social worker carries a significant weight in social work as they are trained to be experts in converting the negative human situations into a world of opportunities, hope, and free of destructive behavior. Above all, they are the positive forces amidst the dark, negative canvases of human weaknesses.

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