Case Study: Reasonable Accommodation in Social Work

The social work field is often full of situations that are not straight forward. On a Reddit social media post, a social worker reached out to the social work community for advice on a particularly unclear situation. The social worker runs a solo, private practice in a small town, and recently had a request from one of her clients that she is struggling to navigate. This client has hearing loss and would like to communicate with American Sign Language in therapy sessions moving forward. The social worker identified a potential option for interpreting services, but it comes at a high cost. She knows it is her responsibility to pay for the interpreting service, even though it will cost more than the payment she receives for the sessions. Despite this, she is trying to figure out the best way to serve her client.

Since her private practice consists solely of her, she does not have coworkers to consult with. She also does not have an agency resource that is already in place. Additionally, there are few options for interpreting services in her small town. She poses a few questions to the reddit community, aimed at gaining a better understanding to serve her client. Responses suggested she try video interpreting services, which can often be a cheaper alternative. In considering the accommodations a social worker should provide, consulting the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is especially useful. Under the effective communication section, it’s outlined that the interpreter service must be provided unless it causes undue financial burden. In a situation where this does happen, the provider must find a suitable alternative. In this instance, an in-person interpreter might cause undue burden, but a video interpreter might not.

This social worker is being reactive to the needs of this client, and proactive with the needs of future clients. She shared her idea to set aside a specific amount of money each year for interpreting or similar services. She also asked the reddit community if there were any other issues she should be looking at in this scenario. This shows a social worker who is committed to her clients and has their well-being and best interests in mind. With that being said, lets review the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics and the Americans with Disabilities Act to better understand how they specifically apply to this scenario.

The Code of Ethics

Social workers have an ethical and legal obligation to provide adequate services for their clients. This social worker is trying do to the right thing for her client by following the ADA and the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics. In the NASW Code of Ethics, the first standard is the Social Workers’ Ethical Responsibilities to Clients. Within that standard, the first section outlines a social worker’s commitment to their clients. This means that a social worker’s actions should always be in the best interest of the client. There may be instances in which the social worker has to adhere to certain laws or rules that go against what the client wants, but this is necessary in limited circumstances.

Americans with Disabilities

In the United States, approximately 15% of adults experience some form of difficulty with hearing. Providing therapy to a Deaf or hard of hearing individual comes with unique circumstances for practitioners. Oftentimes, Deaf or hard of hearing individuals do not experience accurate assessment or diagnostic information due to these circumstances and the shortcomings of practitioners. The NASW has put together a briefing regarding the obligations social workers have when working with individuals who are Deaf or have hearing loss. When working with clients with any type of disability, social workers must provide services that are appropriate and serve the best interests of their clients.

Approximately 1 in 4 Americans are living with some type of disability. The most common types of disabilities are those relating to mobility, cognition, independent living, hearing, vision, and self-care. Any type of disability may mean that an individual needs accommodations in a therapy setting. One of the first steps in providing adequate care for someone with a disability is to understand what barriers are in place for that person. Awareness and education are key elements to providing competent and adequate services for an individual.

Wrapping it Up

A social worker’s role is to act in the best interest of their clients whenever possible. This includes individual therapy sessions, as well as ensuring that future clients receive adequate treatment. Outside of individual therapy sessions, social workers often wear many hats. Social workers are strong advocates, initiators of change, and fierce activists. These are all important roles for social workers to bear when upholding their commitment to clients. Social workers often go above and beyond for their clients, and this is especially evident in cases like the one above.

How are We Listening to Our Clients in Times of Crisis?

Who (or what) comes to your mind when you think about active listening?

For me, I think about my girlfriend Jo. She gives her complete attention to my stories, her sole intention to understand. She does not interrupt while I narrate, excepting necessary clarifications. The energy steers me to confide in her. She is my definition of active listening.

As Carl R Rogers, an American psychologist and founder of the person-centered approach asserted:

“We think we listen, but very rarely do we listen with real understanding, true empathy. Yet listening, of this very special kind, is one of the most potent forces for change that I know.”

Social work, without an iota of doubt, involves a lot of listening as we engage with our clients. Hence, the approaches we employ to listen, especially while COVID-19 is taking a negative toll on various aspects of our well-being, can determine the effectiveness of our services.

In order to actively listen, we often must make an effort to be aware of our prejudices and preferences within personal and professional realms. Hence, our commitment to our ethical responsibilities to our clients by respecting their human dignity, worth, and self-determination to make decisions for themselves. This awareness is possible when one is cognizant of different ways of interacting and listening.

For instance, in Collaborating with the Enemy, Kahane mentions the following 4 types of listening techniques: downloading, debating, dialoguing, and presenting.

  • In downloading mode, the person thinks their story is the ultimate truth and ignores or suppresses other narratives out of anger, fear, or arrogance. In this phase, the person only listens to their own stories and agrees to perspectives they are comfortable with. The author points out this is usually a behavior expressed by dictators or experts.
  • While in the debating approach, the space for the various views of expression, some ideas win while others lose. In this mode, people are aware of their perspectives are not absolute, so outward listening can occur.
  • Through dialoguing technique, one person listens empathetically and subjectively to another. This is self-reflective and listening happens from inside them. Kahane reminds this style promotes new possibilities to emerge.
  • Finally, in presenting mode, people listen without any agenda and are open to conversations without boundaries. The individual is fully present and pays attention to not just a specific idea or person but considers the system as a whole.

Because the nature of our job grants us the freedom to perform a wide variety of functions at various levels and capacities (such as facilitating, coaching, counseling, educating, developing resources, writing and researching, advocating, managing, leading, negotiating, building communities, and more) the significance of listening with empathy and patience cannot be underestimated. This will not only enable us to understand their changing needs but also influences our efficiency and capacity to serve our clients well.

Social Work Ethics During the Time of Pandemic

By:  Andrea Murray, MSW, LICSW

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has transformed every aspect of our lives over just a few weeks. The ethical dilemmas that have emerged would have been considered fodder for a disaster movie plot not too long ago, yet today these dilemmas are reality.

“How do you avoid abandoning clients who are in crisis in the face of shelter-in-place orders?”

 “How to respond ethically while maintaining your practice when clients are no longer able to pay for needed services?”

 “Is it OK to bend the rules to meet the needs of the public during a pandemic emergency?”

These questions are no longer reserved for intellectual debate during a professional ethics workshop. Today, for many social workers, they are real questions that must be answered now.

NASW’s Office of Ethics and Professional Review responds to requests for ethics consultations from members facing tough ethical dilemmas related to the pandemic. This task is complicated by the fact that the rules are constantly changing.

States have instituted varying guidance around quarantine requirements and essential services, licensing boards have state-specific guidance regarding social work licensee requirements, and employers are asking more of employees – at times these demands going beyond the scope of their professional competence.

Then there are the personal demands of ensuring that you and your family are healthy and safe. All of this is compounded further by social distancing and the emotional, financial, and logistical requirements that this new normal has presented.

<Insert deep breath here>

There is, however, something that remains a constant during this pandemic. The NASW Code of Ethics stands unwavering. It remains a trusted guide for social workers’ ethical practice. When you open the Code in the face of a complex ethical dilemma, you can still find the ingredients necessary to come up with an ethical solution.

Nine times out of ten, if you’re able to justify your ultimate decision based on the NASW Code of Ethics, you are on the right track to a solution that is in line with your professional responsibilities—a solution that you can stand behind with confidence.

Someone recently inquired, “Has NASW made any exceptions related to practicing ethically in light of this global crisis?” The answer is a resounding no.  Social workers do not get a pass on practicing ethically during a crisis.

We must still strive to uphold our obligations to clients, the profession, colleagues, and to society at large. This is indeed a heavy mantle. But remember, for every ethical dilemma there are countless ethical responses.

Social workers are gifted with the ability to appreciate the “big picture” and to respond to crisis by coordinating a myriad of variables toward creative solutions. To this end, the NASW Code of Ethics is a tool that offers guidance to be balanced with other important factors.

In application, social workers should know what the Code says about the dilemma at hand and balance the Code’s ethical guidance with other considerations including legal requirements, agency policy and procedures, and clinical and best practice standards.

There are few constants right now. In spite of these dynamic times, the NASW Code of Ethics continues to help social workers navigate our ever-changing times. Rest assured, this too shall pass.

Don’t make permanent decisions in response to temporary situations. Taking a pass when it comes to ethical decision making today can have longstanding consequences in the years to come.

Learn more about NASW Ethics Consultations

Social Distancing for Social Workers During a Global Pandemic

Social distancing has become the new urgency for different industries, sectors and corporations around the world. The creative challenge is to figure out how each of us will shape the nature of our work. Many social workers are making home visit remotely or providing therapy via video conferencing, and many in this sector are being forced to find creative ways to provide services that will benefit our clients while also allowing us to maintain our physical and emotional well-being.

This transitioning from in-person services to different forms is leading us to formulate, experience and witness new ways of creativity, resilience and persistence like what we saw with the quarantined Italians singing from their balconies.

Creativity

‘Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesise new things’ – Steve Jobs

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Before we connect our experiences, as he said, there is no better time than now to examine deeply what each of us have in our toolkits. What matters, now, is to consider and believe what we have, to be of significance. What we have in our toolkit is as unique as we are. So, create.

Here is my toolkit. I hope it inspires you to reflect on what you have in your toolkit to utilise it to the best. To add sparks of joy, grace and meaningfulness. Because we are in this together.

My toolkit

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”- Nelson Mandela

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

1) Education

Apart from my Master’s in Social Work certificate from a University, good grades, 1000 hours of unpaid internships, and my other volunteering experiences, I consider the following to be equally significant to serve clients effectively.

2) Vision

I am curious about human potential. To unearth, cultivate and channelise it gently, thoughtfully and effectively. In ways that spread inspiration, positivity. Persevere ahead with patience and empathy for self and others.

3) The Code of Ethics (Australian Association of Social Workers)

A mandatory source of reference that provides insightful principles, responsibilities, values and guidance for social work profession. You should find and become familiar with the guiding code of ethics for your location.

4) Values and Authentic Self

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

‘What if I come across a situation in which I have to manage a caseload where my values are different than the clients I serve ?’ asked by a student to their field education supervisor.

The supervisor responded by saying never feel obligated to work against your own values. ‘One time, I was approached by a client whose values were completely different to mine with respect to the caseload. I politely directed to a different social worker within the same organisation whose values were congruent with the client.’

This is a valuable insight. It was prudent for the student to inquire and confirm before proceeding to engage with the client instead of realising it midway. The significance on having clarity of personal values can enable or inhibit being one’s authentic self while in service to clients.

5) Journaling

This is my third year of loving to journal on a consistent basis, and this practise is teaching me to pay more attention. Close attention to what’s happening within me and outside me. Sometimes it is scary. Other times, enlightening. At the same time, it is consoling. A mixed process indeed.

I deem this exercise to be not only my source of self-care but also helps me to access, name and take the time to feel my emotions and interpretations, during different life events. Going through this process, offers patience and empathy, for myself, which I can then offer to the clients who might it need the most.

Photo by David Iskander on Unsplash

6) Social Work Theories

Everything we do to serve, our clients, are underpinned by theories. We carry and transmit the essence of it, consciously or unknowingly, while we interact, advocate, direct, manage, make decisions, engage or disengage, with our clients, co-workers or managers.

Hence, utilising a post-colonial lens to read, explore, learn, think, reflect and write, social work theories, is a practise that needs to be actively encouraged within the sector, organisations, services, outreaches as well as educational institutions to provide social work services that are inclusive in nature.

This awareness is crucial because clients from diverse backgrounds will have unique perspectives as a result of emerging from cultures that have different ideologies and therefore values different from Western ideologies.

Hence, it is important for a social worker to reflect well in order identify our personal inclinations and to never impose them on clients whose perspectives could be different to us. And often, when I engage and decide to choose a theory, I ask myself these questions:

  1. Is the theory inclusive of the client’s stage of problems/ circumstance?
  2. Am I including/excluding client’s input?
  3. Considerations /possibilities of the theory that can enable or inhibit client’s aspirations/goals/circumstances.
  4. The strengths of the theory
  5. The limitations of the theory

7) Experiences

This is one profession where transferrable skills can be optimised to serve purposes of the job constructively. For instance, I learned a core insight regarding writing from journalism class as well as internship experience during my undergraduate educational phase. Regarding the 5 W’s and 1 H…What, Where, When, Why, Who and How. Social Work involves a lot of writing. Whether, it is writing case notes, assessment reports, project plans, research reports or support plans, writing is crucial. 

This awareness magnifies the significance of having a diversity of skills, educational experiences, perspectives and transferable skills in which to maximise possibilities and opportunities.

Here to create a legacy

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

“You have no idea what your legacy will be because your legacy is every life you touch”- Maya Angelou

And, I could not agree more. At times when we are bogged down by uncontrollable factors resulting in unfavourable crisis, we need a different point of view and perspective that emanates hope especially now during this global pandemic. As individuals, it is necessary to consciously choose our thoughts, words and energy about the situation within our spheres of influence.

‘Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom’ -Victor E Frankl

Even at times like these, let us choose responses that reflects growth and freedom while promoting goodness to create our legacy individually and collectively.

Please share with us your perspectives, toolkit, and how the nature of your job has changed during this global pandemic in the comments below. It is essential to know the changes, challenges and barriers within our respective sectors in order to help us borrow, adopt and apply what works and avoid what doesn’t work.

NASW Delegate Assembly Approves Revisions to the NASW Code of Ethics

Photo Credit: @nasw

The Delegate Assembly of the National Association of  Social Workers (NASW) on August 4, 2017 approved the most substantive revision to the NASW Code of Ethics since 1996. After careful and charged deliberation, the Delegate Assembly voted to accept proposed revisions to the Code that focused largely on the use of technology and the implications for ethical practice.

The NASW Code of Ethics continues to be the most accepted standard for social work ethical practice worldwide. With emergent technological advances over the last two decades, the profession could not ignore the necessity for more clarity around the complex implications of new forms of communication and relationship building through technology. As such, in September 2015 an NASW Code of Ethics Review Task Force was appointed by the NASW president and approved by the NASW Board of Directors.

A special thank-you to Task Force chair: Allan Barsky, JD, MSW, PhD, National Ethics Committee (past chair)

Task Force members:

  • David Barry, PhD, National Ethics Committee (past chair)
  • Luis Machuca, MSW
  • Frederic Reamer, PhD
  • Kim Strom-Gottfried, PhD
  • Bo Walker, MSW, LCSW, National Ethics Committee
  • Dawn Hobdy, MSW, LICSW, director, Office of Ethics and Professional Review

And NASW staff contributors

  • Anne Camper, JD, NASW general counsel
  • Andrea Murray, MSW, LICSW, senior ethics associate
  • Carolyn Polowy, JD, former NASW general counsel

The Task Force was charged with examining the current Code of Ethics through the lens of specific ethical considerations when using various forms of technology. In September 2015, they embarked on a year-long process that involved studying emerging standards in other professions and examining relevant professional literature, such as the Association of Social Work Boards’ (2015) Model Regulatory Standards for Technology and Social Work Practice.

In addition, Task Force members considered the technology practice standards that were concurrently being developed by a national task force commissioned by NASW, Council on Social Work EducationClinical Social Work Association, and Association of Social Work Boards. A year later the proposed amendments were presented to the NASW membership for review, and many member comments were incorporated prior to finalization.

2017 Approved Changes to the NASW Code of Ethics 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When does the new NASW Code of Ethics go into effect? 

A: The new NASW Code of Ethics goes into effect on January 1, 2018.

Q: Where can I get a copy of the revised NASW Code of Ethics?

A: Copies of the revised NASW Code of Ethics will be available by November 1, 2017. You can preorder a copy by calling NASW Press at 1-800-227-3590.

Q: Which sections of the NASW Code of Ethics were updated?

Commemorative 55th Anniversary Edition of the NASW Code of Ethics. The first edition of the Code of Ethics was released in 1960.

A: The sections of the NASW Code of Ethics that were revised include:

The Purpose of the Code 
1.03 Informed Consent 
1.04 Competence 
1.05 Cultural Competence and Social 
Diversity 
1.06 Conflicts of Interest 
1.07 Privacy and Confidentiality 
1.08 Access to Records 
1.09 Sexual Relationships 
1.11 Sexual Harassment 
1.15 Interruption of Services 
1.16 Referral for Services 
2.01 Respect 
2.06 Sexual Relationships 
2.07 Sexual Harassment 
2.10 Unethical Conduct of Colleagues 
3.01 Supervision and Consultation 
3.02 Education and Training 
3.04 Client Records 
5.02 Evaluation and Research 
6.04 Social and Political Action

Q: What educational resources are available to explain the latest revisions to the NASW Code 
of Ethics?

A: Several resources will be available, including an online training, an NASW chat, a blog,                        code revision consults, and a posting of the changes with the explanations on the NASW Web site.

Q: Which social workers are accountable to the NASW Code of Ethics?

A: Most social workers are held accountable to the NASW Code of Ethics, including NASW members, licensed social workers, employed social workers, and students.

Q: Do these changes affect social workers who aren’t members of NASW?

A: Yes. The NASW Code of Ethics sets forth the values, principles, and standards that guide the profession as a whole, not just NASW members.

Q: Who was responsible for revising the NASW Code of Ethics?

A: An NASW Code of Ethics Review Task Force was appointed by the NASW President and approved by the NASW Board of Directors.

Q: How am I held accountable if I do not implement these changes by the effective date?

A: If you are a member of NASW, you may be held accountable through the NASW Office of Ethics and Professional Review process, if someone files an ethics complaint against you. You may also be held accountable by a state licensing board if a licensing board complaint is filed against you. Furthermore, you may be held accountable by your employer or your university, which may take disciplinary actions for not implementing the changes. Finally, you may be held accountable through a court of law that looks to the NASW Code of Ethics to establish the standard for professional ethical social work practice.

Q: Have social work schools, employers, agencies, etc., been made aware of the changes?

A: NASW is working diligently to notify the social work profession and stakeholders using various communication channels, including print, social media, and Web-based notices.

Q: Who do I contact if I have additional questions?

A: If you have additional questions, please contact the Office of Ethics and Professional Review at 800-638-8799 ext. 231 or ethics@socialworkers.org 

The approved Code of Ethics revisions reflect a collaborative and inclusive effort that drew from a diverse cross-section of the profession. The August 4 approval by the Delegate Assembly marks significant progress in the profession’s ability to respond to our ever-changing practice environment.

The new version of the NASW Code of Ethics comes into effect January 1, 2018. In the meantime, training and technical assistance opportunities will be made available through the Office of Ethics and Professional Review and the NASW website.

Our sincere appreciation again to the task force, NASW staff, and committed members across the globe who contributed to this momentous accomplishment.

Understanding the Code of Ethics in Social Work Practice

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Social workers are required to consider the code of ethics when working with clients in a therapeutic or direct practice relationship. However, we want to examine and discuss the implications of utilizing the code of ethics while working along the full continuum of social work practice from micro to macro. Most have heard about ethical issues relating confidentiality, dual relationships, and sexual relationships, but what do ethical dilemmas look like when working in communities, advocacy, or public policy? What ethical obligations do social workers when working in social justice versus working in one on one relationships with clients?

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Heather McCabe

We will explore how practitioners and students view ethical obligations around macro practice and social justice issues. Our guest expert is Heather McCabe, Assistant Professor of Social Work at Indiana University. She served as a medical social worker at a pediatric tertiary care hospital for several years before returning to school for her law degree.

She also served as the Director of the Public Health Law Program  and then Executive Director for the Hall Center for Law and Health at the IU School of Law – Indianapolis before coming to her current position.  Professor McCabe’s research is primarily in the areas of public health, health policy, health disparities, health reform, and disability related policy.  She is particularly interested in exploring the effects of multidisciplinary education and collaboration in her work.

Questions to be explored:

  1. Do you think about the NASW Code of Ethics applying to community organizing, policy practice, advocacy? If so, how?
  2. If you see multiple clients with the same systemic issue, do you have any ethical obligation to address the issue?
  3. What types of bills do you see as impacting your clients? What responsibility to you have to advocate for/educate about them?
  4. Do you advocate for policy in your day to day work? Give an example.
  5. How do we continue encouraging social workers to see practice as a continuum, which includes macro practice?

Resources:

  • Reisch, M. & Lowe, J.I. (2000). “Of means and ends” revisited: Teaching ethical community organizing in an unethical society. Journal of Community Practice, 7(1), 19-38.
  • Hardina, D. (2000). Guidelines for ethical practice in community organization. Social Work, 49(4), 595-604.
  • Harrington, D., & Dolgoff, R. (2008). Hierarchies of Ethical Principles for Ethical Decision Making in Social Work. Ethics and Social Welfare, 2(2), 183–196. doi:10.1080/17496530802117680
  • National Association of Social Workers. (2008).  Code of ethics of the National Association of Social Workers. Washington, DC: NASW Press.
  • Rome, S.H.,Hoechstetter, S., and Wolf-Branigin, M. (2010). Pushing the envelope: Empowering clients through political action. Journal of Policy Practice, 9(3-4), 201-219.
  • Rome, S.H. (2009). Value inventory for policy advocacy. In E.P Congress, P.N. Black, and K. Strom-Gottfried (Eds.) Teaching Social Work Values and Ethics. Alexandria, VA: Council on Social Work Education.

About us:

#MacroSW is a collaboration of social workers, organizations, social work schools, and individuals working to promote macro social work practice. Macro social work practice focuses on changing larger systems, such as communities and organizations. It encompasses a broad spectrum of actions and ideas, ranging from community organizing and education to legislative advocacy and policy analysis. The chats are held bimonthly on Twitter on the second and fourth Thursday of each month at 9 p.m. EST (6 p.m. PST).

Social Work by the Numbers

Indiana-by-the-Numbers
Robert Indiana (American, b. 1928), Numbers, 1980-1983, painted aluminum, 8x8x4 ft. (each), Gift of Melvin Simon and Associates, 1988.246. (c) 2013 Morgan Art Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

While leading a Social Work Practice class, I asked the students to name the 3 levels of analysis used to organize systems. I thought I was providing a great clue by stating the word “systems” and dropping the number 3. After students sat with puzzled looks for 20 seconds, I realized that my perceived hints were not well received. It got me thinking about numerology in the social work profession.

Even before we get to dates that every social worker should have memorized (*idea for next article), social workers should have some pretty common constructs and theoretical frames on deck listed by their numbers.This is fun. I challenged myself to count from 1 to 10 identifying theories, constructs, or other social work content that fit the number. I was able to account for each number except 7.

The big numbers of the list are interestingly 3, 6, and 9. When someone says these numbers, social workers automatically consider specific content. For my students, if I give these number of spaces for an answer on a test, they should immediately think of content they have learned.

1 Personal-Professional Value Integration

The most important element of self-care is a consonant cognitive state. Who you are as a person is the same as who you are as a professional. What many are attempting to explain in separating you from the job is that you must physically take time away from the job. Just like a long distance runner cannot train nonstop, you need time to recover.

Yet, your value system is most sustainably one personally and professionally. It is dissociative to hold a different value personally than what your professional value prescribes. Seek to correlate the two. If they cannot be correlated, a social worker is trained to change the system.

2 The Smallest System

General Systems Theory is a core knowledge node in the social work profession. The worker and the client form the smallest possible system of interaction in the profession. Because it is so small, the energy in this smallest system can be intense. Worker skill in managing this energy can often make the difference in coping and adaptation.

3 Basic Ecological Systems Levels

Ecological systems perspective describes 3 basic levels: micro, meso, and macro. Beyond a simple categorization of systems components, this model provides a way to organize assessment and intervention–a perspective on the system interactions. The other constructs in ecological systems perspective are chrono and exo systems.

4  ASWB Examination Content Outline

Four of the 5 examinations available from ASWB have 4 sections of content. Advanced Generalist is the exception. It has 5 sections. This is important because knowing how the content of the test is organized may help you prepare. By the way, 5 is the number of ASWB exam administration categories —Associate, Bachelors, Masters, Advanced Generalist, and Clinical.

5 NASW Best Practice Standards in Social Work Supervision http://www.socialworkers.org/practice/naswstandards/supervisionstandards2013.pdf

6 Ethical Parameters in the NASW Code of Ethics

Every student should commit these ethics to memory. They should also be ready at a moment’s notice to explain their meaning and application. They are service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, the importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence. The most difficult to explain for many students is social justice. The most limited in understanding is integrity. By the way, the code is also organized into 6 sections. These 6 do not correspond with the 6 parameters.

8 Basic Social Worker Roles

Eight social worker roles exist. My list includes:

  • In the Broker role, social workers link clients with market resources.
  • In the Case Manager role, social workers assist clients to cope with crises.
  • In the Initiator role, social workers call attention to a need.
  • In the Advocate role, social workers represent the client against a more powerful entity.
  • In the Organizer role, social workers organize an activity or group.
  • In the Facilitator role, social workers lead a group process.
  • In the Educator role, social workers teach content to a client or group.
  • In the Administrator role, social workers manage toward a defined set of goals.

9 Competencies http://www.cswe.org/File.aspx?id=81660

The 2015 Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS) is the  document outlining educational standards for the social work profession. Every social work program in the country is required to demonstrate student competence in 9 areas. Follow the link for a list.

10 NASW Standards for Cultural Competence in Social Work Practice http://www.socialworkers.org/practice/standards/NASWCulturalStandards.pdf

Bonus

11 NASW Standards for the practice of clinical social work https://www.socialworkers.org/practice/standards/clinical_sw.asp

12 Standards for Social Work Practice with Clients with Substance Use Disorders http://www.socialworkers.org/practice/standards/NASWATODStatndards.pdf

13 As with other conventions in the US, I did not find a single use of the number 13. It’s typically considered to be unlucky.

14 Standards for Social Work Practice in Child Welfare http://www.socialworkers.org/practice/standards/childwelfarestandards2012.pdf

20 NASW Standards for practice in health care settings. https://www.socialworkers.org/practice/standards/NASWHealthCareStandards.pdf

Getting Social Workers Involved in Social Justice: Who Will Take the Lead

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If you’re not sitting at the table, you’re on the menu. This pithy bit of wisdom was offered as a reminder by University of Illinois Springfield social work professor David Stoesz in a discussion thread on a social work policy listserv about the profession’s paltry participation in policy and politics. Social workers on that listserv are concerned about our level of effort on social justice issues in order to bring about societal change as our code of ethics mandates. Helping people cope with policies that have disproportionately favored the wealthy over the past several decades is not enough.

However, we must do more to change those policies and create a more egalitarian society. Two interesting articles caught my attention last week. One that was posted on Social Work Helper’s Facebook page had appeared in the Guardian. The article featured young social workers in the United Kingdom who expressed concern about their futures and the future of the profession of social work. One young man, Justin, who became a social worker after serving in the British military in Afghanistan, worried about the absence of a strong voice to represent the interests of social workers.

The other article was published in Al Jazeera by Sean McElwee, a young Demos research associate, titled: “Inequality is a disease, voting turnout is the cure.” This is an idea I have been preaching recently. He provides research to support this hypothesis. The questions are: Can social work can be the x-factor that helps propel a movement leading to full voter participation? And who will be the leader(s) of that effort?

What McElwee is stating is quite simple. The 2016 election will not turn so much on who votes but on who stays home. Non-voters are more likely to be low income and lean significantly towards Democrats. Registering these potential voters and getting them to the polls could have significant effects on the outcomes of elections at all levels of government.

Unions traditionally mobilize voters and got them to the polls. However we have seen the number of members and the power of union decline in recent decades.

Will social workers help fill that gap? I believe we can. Social workers can help would-be voters break through barriers such as voter identification. Republican strategist Chris Ladd says it’s time Democrats stop whining about voter ID laws and begin to help people get the documentation they need. Sounds like good advice.

Mildred “Mit” Joyner proposed this idea several years ago when she was president of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). She believes this is something social workers at every level can participate in. Direct service workers can assist clients in understanding the particulars of voting regulations and ensure they have proper documentation when they go to vote. Administrators of agencies can make it a matter of policy to inform clients about exercising their right to vote.

However, according to WRAL News in North Carolina,

Local social service agencies are not giving poor residents adequate opportunities to file and update voter registrations as required by federal law, a letter sent by a group of voting rights advocates warned the North Carolina State Board of Elections and Department of Health and Human Services. Read more 

On the macro level, social workers can work with churches, tenant organizations, and other community-based groups to organize and implement voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives. Joyner suggests social workers engage the League of Women Voters for information and support. Agencies can learn more from organizations like Nonprofit Vote. Social work students can work with Rock the Vote to encourage young people to vote.

At the same time social workers can continue efforts to overturn misguided laws that restrict voting. We can continue to press Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act. Social workers have a responsibility to work for a more just society that permits and promotes the self-actualization of everyone.

Policies, laws and systems that restrict one’s ability to be all that one can be should be the object of intervention on the micro, mezzo, and macro levels. While social workers must pay attention to licensing, research, and building reputation as a fully scientific profession, we also have a mandate to pursue social justice.

Richard Nixon galvanized a large swath of voters who he saw as being neglected and appealed to them as the silent majority. There is a new silent majority today—voters who have been demoralized by the vast sums of money that are gaming the political system. They see the rich getting richer and not much being done to expand opportunity and prosperity for the vast majority of Americans. They are turned off by the negative campaigning and believe voting is an exercise in futility.

Social workers should be participants in the effort to restore hope to these voters—to help them understand that staying away from the polls is exactly what those protecting the status quo wants you to do. Social workers need to be involved politically and be at the policy table. If you’re not sitting at the table, you’re on the menu.

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