Observers have become critics of child protection workers and their superiors and not for insignificant reasons. Too many judgements, too many actions, too many interactions reveal a service that has developed, not a bad rap but a bad reputation. I know some social workers and I am convinced that they have chosen this career with altruistic vision. They want to help people. They want to be effective and they want to employ all that is good in the human spirit to lift that which is weak among their community members.
It is to these that I
direct some questions which I believe to be appropriate and relevant to
good child protection work. They are questions that the child protection
workers should ask in each and every case to which they are assigned.
The questions are not my own but were presented by some social scientist whose name is lost to me.
1. What is my distinctive role in
this child's life? In other words, why am I here? Why this question? Because
the social worker has a distinct aptitude, role and responsibility that is
different from that of the police officer or teacher. Those people with other
skill sets and professions are not social workers. So, why am I involved in
2. What am I observing and to what am I listening as I monitor this case,
this family, and the interplay of family members? What can I smell or perceive
that may call for a possible assessment and inform that assessment. What
dangers are apparent or what hygiene issues meet my eye?
3. Are there other workers who have been involved in this case? If there
were some others, what were their observations and what do the case files
already indicate? Can other workers assist my understanding with relevant
4. If I decide that there is cause for concern in this case, what are the
things that I believe require change in order to relieve the concern? What
action plan transparent to all the adults involved, can result in the best
outcome and what time frame is best?
What do you think of those questions? Oh, are you saying a very loud DUHHH!!
Are you thinking that most social workers are already asking questions such
as these rather instinctively? Apparently not all! Not all social workers have thought this way consistently, otherwise
a family such as the Baynes would not have endured an entire year without their
children, and then a second year and a third and a fourth. Four years of
separation, children from parents, children in foster care, parents seeking in
every way to demonstrate their parental capacity.
Now Derek Hoare has been separated from his autistic daughter Ayn for almost one year, since June 16, 2011. Is this to be the first of several years as well?