Social Work Assessment Within Child Protection Research Proposal

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Social Work

The Importance of Assessment and Framework in Social Work

An Emphasis on Child Protection

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Social programs and the existence of professionals tasked with facilitating goodwill and functionality in the public society is far from a new concept. In fact, certain social programs existed for peasants during the Middle Ages, and the United States has a rich history of social programs and social work dating back to the 1800s (Center on Human Development). The book Past Judgment suggests that the history of social work and social programs is similarly extensive, and perhaps controversial, in New Zealand. Through the feudal society of medieval Europe, fledgling democratic society of the post-colonial United States, and the ethnically diverse society of New Zealand, the field of social work has come to encompass a great deal of requirements and preparations, depending on the society in which one works. For this reason, the professional assessment has become a necessary tool in New Zealand social work. Adaptable to each particular situation, assessments allow social workers to operate within a framework when examining a new situation (O'Connor and Setterlund). Because nearly every situation in a professional social worker's career is unique, assessments allow social workers to move flawlessly form one unique situation to another with a clear state of mind, understanding that the motives for the first situation may be far different from the contributors to the second. Furthermore, assessments allow social workers to evaluate a situation free of personal influence. For example, assessments allow social workers to gain unique information about each case and evaluate that information according to accepted frameworks. This approach decreases the tendency for social workers to evaluate situations based on their own knowledge, personal history, or biases, and is one method of addressing the issue of ethnic or racial bias in the field of social work (Stevenson, Chueng, and Leung).

Research Proposal on Social Work Assessment Within Child Protection Assignment

According to Washington University's Center on Human Development and Disability, social workers use a variety of methods for conducting assessments, including "interviews, questionnaires, surveys, or referrals." For child protective services workers, the center considers the interview with a child's parents or caregivers to be the most appropriate type of assessment. Assessment frameworks then allow the social worker to evaluate the information gained in the interview, often allowing the social worker to feel that he or she has not only completed his or her work as assigned, but also that he or she has made a difference (Wilson and Setterlund 87-79). Because assessments are a varied and integral part of social work and child protective services, an exploration into their use and contributions to the field is necessary in order to understand their effectiveness and improve upon their methods. By exploring the current scholarship regarding social work and child protective services' assessments, professionals in the field will gain a greater understanding of the tool's importance and uses.

The importance of assessment and framework on the field of social work great deal of research has suggested that assessments and frameworks are of infinite importance to the practice of social work. In their classic 1995 study, O'Connor, Wilson, and Setterlund provide social workers with a basic understanding of the social work assessment, its importance, and its benefits for both social and child protective services workers and those whom they serve. The authors describe the rigors of daily social work, suggesting that the profession is about "action rather than contemplation" (88), and that goal of any social worker is to form an "assessment" that can be used as a template for helping those with whom workers want to intervene (88). According to the authors, having an a framework of assessment allows social workers to step outside of their own thoughts and feelings on a certain topic, and instead examine the topic with "disciplined" thought, allowing an "active, conscious, and self-reflective approach to practice." Because the assessment "makes sense" and "organizes" a situation, social workers who use assessment frameworks in their day-to-day associations with people are likely to be able to think more clearly about the situation, without allowing it to fall victim to their own personal judgments and doubts (89). For example, the authors discuss a scenario on which social work students are requested to have "chats" with patients in hospitals. The students were encouraged because the "chats" seemed meaningless, but by thinking through an assessment framework, they could easily realize that the "chats" were indeed meaningful because they allowed social action, or the workers to perform as social workers (87-89).

The development of assessments in a variety of social work fields have allowed social workers to use frameworks in order to better determine the situations affecting those whom social workers seek to serve. For example, Ferreiro, Warren, and Konac's 1986 study established a complex framework assessment for social workers' efforts in dealing with those who are suffering from divorce. The assessment not only allowed social workers and mental health workers to structure their work with divorcing families, but also allowed them understand "the client's divorce-related difficulties so appropriate interventions [could] be targeted" (439). In the same vein and near the same year, Buckner and Salts' publication identified an assessment for couples intending to marry. The premarital assessment was designed to "meet" the "needs of couples at various stages of relationship development" (513). In addition, the assessment was also designed to aid in the "training" of workers dealing with the engaged couples (513). Similarly, James Bray's 1995 study discussed the importance of family assessments and proposed a variety of methods for improving these assessments and their evaluations, a practice that would become a trend among social workers and sociologists, allowing the ever-changing society to be represented in the assessments and their evaluations.

Thus, a variety of scholarship has addressed the importance of assessments and frameworks in the field of social work. Assessments not only allow social workers to gain information about unique cases and interpret those assessments according to organized frameworks that aid them in determining how to best aid the situation, but scholarship also suggests that the assessments train social workers in observing and recognizing certain themes in the field, such as symptoms of divorce or readiness for marriage. Without assessments and frameworks, social workers would not be able to observe and interpret the actions of their clients with the degree of accuracy and professionalism made possible by the abundance of assessments and frameworks.

II. The importance of assessment and framework in child protection

While scholarship has proven the importance of the assessment and framework in the field of social work, that assessment and framework is similarly important in child protection. In addition to using assessment framework that allows child social workers to remove themselves from the biases of their own thoughts and judgments, so to must child protective services workers be trained in the diverse conditions of their field. Stevenson, Chueng, and Leung's 1992 study suggested that assessment frameworks could be used in order to train social and child protective services workers to treat each situation with more diversity sensitivity. In Assessments can allow child protective service workers to make choices and decisions that suggest and equality among children of all ethnicities. According to the authors, trends within the field suggest that situations involving different ethnic groups are treated quite differently.

For instance, the authors suggest that the services rendered to Afircan-American children, a demographic that has been characterized by an "overrepresentation in abuse and neglect reports," as suffering "slight changes" from the services rendered to other demographics. The authors describe this situation as "overt discrimination" being replaced by "more covert discrimination" (292). In order to prevent these results from re-occurring in the future, the authors have established a "systematic approach to ethnically sensitive practices" of child protective services workers (298). This approach includes understanding the correct way to greet and interact with people of different ethnicities, learning to avoid "ethnically bound expectations," and "explaining family involvement" in solving problems in ethnic families (298). By using this approach, the authors suggest that child protective service workers can transcend the stereotypical ethnically flavored reactions to problems and treat all social problems with equality. Thus, Stevenson Chueng and Leung's study impacted the field of social and child protective services work dramatically by suggesting that assessments can be used not only to evaluate each and every unique social work situation, but also to prevent furthering sever social problems such as ethnic bias, a problem which is uniquely crucial to New Zealand society.

Hedy Cleave and Stephen Walker's 2004 study similarly found that implementing assessments beneficial in both discovering the necessities of children in need in England and providing those necessities. Cleave and Walker implemented a two-phased study testing the effectiveness of an assessment framework using a "multi-agency" approach to determining and answering the needs of the children (81). The results of the study suggested that the assessment, which included interviews with the children and their parents, and framework improved the quality of the children's social services.

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