This essay will look at three journal articles and what they state about Child Protective Services. The first article is by Radhakrishna, Bou-Saada, Hunter, Catellier and Kotch (2001) in the Journal of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children. The article looks at Child Maltreatment and the role of father surrogates in this phenomenon. The research studies the effect of having a father figure in the home to the percentage incidence of maltreatment of children. Earlier research in this area has focused mainly on sexual abuse but this research attempts to find out whether the presence of this surrogate father subsequently results in increased incidence of child maltreatment. This was done via a longitudinal sample of children at risk in the North Carolina Central Registry for Child Abuse and Neglect was utilized as the source of child history of maltreatment. The result was that there was a doubling of incidence of maltreatment of children after entry of a surrogate father as compared to those with no father figure or with a biological father.
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The second article is by Marshall, English and Stewart (2001) which follows the effect of fathers or father figures in a child’s behavior as sampled in families reported to Child Protective Services. It evaluates what possible influence a father or father figure has on the behavior of a young child in families sampled from those reported to Child Protective Services. Whether a father figure is present or absent seems to make a negligible difference to behavior issues of children aged four and below, there were lower levels observed in children aged 6 of aggression and depression, when an adult male father figure was present. However, once control parameters were factored in including ethnicity of the mother, gender of the child, amount of referrals to child protective services, and existence of domestic violence this factor lost significance although it was a factor in interaction.
The third article explores how parents feel about their experience with child protective services. It focuses on the specifics of worker-client relationship in the context of child protective services. It is written by Maiter, Sarah., Palmer, Sally., & Manji, Shehenaz in 2006 and emphasizes that the relationship that the social worker cultivates with the parents is really crucial to the well-being of the child. This is supported by prior researches that have proven the importance of this relationship.
In practicing social work in Child Protective Services, micro strategies involved include counseling services in cases of domestic abuse, child maltreatment, presence or not of father figures and improving the relationship between parents and child protective workers; among others. These include interventions at the individual levels. The mezzo interventions in child protective services include professional social workers who are involved in the provision of therapeutic or recreational services conducted in a group situation, care and protection services in foster homes or group homes and other such services which involve tackling issues in a group setting which have a common goal. The macro level of child protective services involves generation of policy or dealing with child protective issues at community or project level.
All of this strategy levels lend an opportunity for certain professionals to participate in child protective services. Senior leaders who work at local agencies collaborate through the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) in order to indicate the way forward in ensuring the safety of children and young people. This board is well situated to utilize a holistic approach to child protection. Everyone who comes into contact with the families have a role in ensuring that every child’s pertinent needs are met. The vehicles used to meet these needs include universal and early intervention services, which could lead to referral to specialized services such as social care. The current policy has the necessity of parents’ consent in a format common to all local agencies and can be disseminated to other professionals in the system (Munro, 2011).
The working conditions under which social workers function affect their quality of work. The work environment in which they operate facilitates or hinders their ability to utilize their expertise. When the workplace is dysfunctional, this makes it difficult for social workers however skilled or motivated, to be effective. Major obstacles to effective practice include a heavy caseload or inadequate supervision. Other elements include poor design of appraisal apparatus or what messages the organization sends about priorities (Munro, 2011). Child Protective Services social workers need to have a substantial education as well as clinical experience. There is a state by state difference in requirements but generally, a post secondary degree is necessary as well as state licensing and a professional certification. In addition, although academic requirements differ by state, many employers look for applicants who at least have a bachelor of social work degree from an accredited institution. Other degrees that are considered suitable are psychology and counseling.
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average social worker salary is $39, 530 as of May, 2008, with those in the top ten percentile earning over $66,430. the salary scale for a social worker is dependent upon the professionals specialty. State government employees may take home $39,600 annually while elementary and secondary school social workers may earn $53, 860 on average. As can be seen, the target population of this group of workers is the well being of children. They seek to prevent or stop the abuse or neglect of children.
In order to access these services however, it is crucial that someone notify social services when there is an incident of neglect or abuse. This may be hindered by ignorance of the procedures of notification or of the existence of this service for immigrant families. Language barriers can also be an issue in these populations. Should the social worker be contacted, some of the issues that they witness include maltreatment of children by father figures, child sexual abuse, physical abuse or mental abuse, negligence or abandonment of children among others. These incidences are caused by various environmental causes including surrogate father figures as seen in Radhakrishna et al (2001) or else delinquent behavior produced by negligence or lack of an authority figure as seen in Marshall et al (2001). Other issues are child neglect produced by drug abuse or delinquency in the parents or can be a cycle of poverty, teenage pregnancy and limited education.
Some cultural barriers may hinder the work of social workers. In some immigrant populations, beating a child is considered an acceptable method of discipline which is in conflict with U.S. culture. Language barriers among immigrant populations may be a hindrance to communication or understanding. This is exacerbated by the age range of the clients because they are children ranging in age from 0-18 years old.
Due to the fact that social workers deal mainly with children, the perception is that the average social worker is a woman. This is based on the assumption that they are better listeners and are more likely to notice signs of neglect in a home than a man, such as neglected housekeeping, poor hygiene, bad nutrition and such other domestic issues. The children may also feel more at ease with a woman who is a stranger than a man. As studies illustrated in the articles utilized in this essay show, a large amount of the maltreatment of children happens at the hands of a male figure, and therefore they may be more comfortable with a female. Clients attended to by social workers tend to be from poor neighborhoods, suffering from the aftereffects of their parents having them too young and perpetuating bad parenting as a result, being unemployed or in lower echelon jobs, mixed up in criminal activities or substance abuse (Munro, 2011).
The field of social work is extremely challenging and burn out is not uncommon (Munro, 2011) especially when dealing with heart wrenching situations involving young children. However, it is a worthwhile endeavor that is satisfying on many levels, and it is one profession that makes a huge difference in society. For that reason, I would be interested in pursuing this career choice. From the essay I have learned that there are many challenges to doing the job correctly, but there are also rewards when one rescues a child from a situation that is detrimental to them. While they may not see it that way and indeed in many cases, there is no happy endings, this simply serves to make the few victories more worthwhile and motivates me to work harder to bring more of these about. I can definitely say that at this point my interest in social work has been piqued even further and I am challenged to bring about change at the macro level that would improve the chances of children who get into the welfare system to not repeat the cycle of abuse and poverty.
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