SOCIAL WORK AND A CASE LIKE THE BAYNES
How does a social worker convince himself/herself to continue to work toward separating children from parents when it becomes increasingly clear that the evidence for separation is worse than confused? It’s faulty.
First, as a preface to this piece, I worked for over forty years as a pastor and a church denominational executive officer, and I am qualified first hand with stories of human hurt, personal pain, mental illness, anger, profound grief, domestic violence, family dysfunction, restoration, redemption, task frustration and job satisfaction. I considered it a high calling and I believe that I helped people.
In our society, there are so many professions into which people have entered with a sincere desire and intention to make a difference. A social worker is one of those occupations. I am convinced that social workers do enrich individual lives and families by assisting them to achieve solutions to physical, social and emotional impasses.
The British Columbia Association of Social Workers is an association that supports and promotes the profession of social work and advocates for social justice.
Here in the Fraser Valley, The University of the Fraser Valley offers degree and diploma programs in social work and human services.
It is an honourable and valuable vocation. Social workers find employment in various societal practices. Some social workers find their place within the Ministry of Children and Family Development as directors, supervisors, and case workers. Since the safety of the child is the paramount concentration of this Ministry, social workers understand that protecting children means coming into some conflict with parents. Every parent who perceives himself/herself as impacted negatively by an MCFD action is going to be distraught, angered, in dispute, perhaps hostile. A social worker is trained to deal with personal emotions as well as those of the affected parties. Some detachment is required to survive.
So, this morning I question how a social worker convinces oneself that placing these three children for adoption is the very best course of action? How does a SW do that when the child repeatedly asks daddy on a regular weekly visit, “Can I come home yet?” And the child has asked that question for two and a half years.
Perhaps initially the data on this case convinced the social workers involved that Paul and Zabeth were responsible for their youngest child’s injuries in autumn 2007. Why would they not be convinced by the data when the medical records by respected colleagues at Children’s Hospital implied that liability via diagnosis of non accidental injury? That was then. Since that time, it has become evident in court and out of court that the injuries are attributable to other causes and that the accidental injury reported by parents is valid. There is at least sufficient reason to question the initial diagnosis and injury cause. How can a social worker continue to view Paul and Zabeth as uncooperative, manipulative and troublesome when they are doing precisely what any zealous and committed parent will do to recover a family? How do a director and the social worker’s supervisors continue to see continued custody and possible eventual adoption as in the best interests of three children when nothing remains to point toward risk in returning them to their parents?
The high road here is to inform the Ministry lawyer that the case for the order is being set aside and the children will be returned to Paul and Zabeth immediately.