There are many social services dedicated to poor and minority groups in the United States (US). These social services aim at addressing common social challenges such as crime, poverty, and drugs. Notably, the focus on social services is in the state of Georgia. Georgia is located in the southeastern region of the US where it borders Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, and the Atlantic Ocean. Like most of the states, Georgia’s social services are characterized by state-level challenges such as underfunding, miss-targets, understaffing, and ineffectiveness (Epstein 140). This essay paper reviews the absence of high-quality social work practice as a primary challenge in Georgia.
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According to Healy and Meagher, the absence of high-quality social work practice is associated with deprofessionalization of social services industry (244). Deprofessionalization occurs because of the fragmentation and routinization of social work as well as the affiliated loss of opportunities due to the use of creativity, discretion, and reflexivity in direct practice. Notably, “the loss of discretionary decision-making power is the main cause of large scale retreat of professional workers from public welfare agencies” and in our case Georgia (Healy and Meagher 245). Again, deprofessionalization emerges from the decline of professional categories in the social service employment. In this case, social service profession is fragmented and reduced to identifiable elements, which make less qualified individuals undertake complex social work tasks at lower payment rates. Again, deprofessionalization relates to underemployment where professional social workers are employed in para-professional positions that do not require or fully utilize their qualifications.
To address the challenge of low-quality social work practice in Georgia, systems theory coalition theory of change, trait leadership theory, and skills leadership theory are applicable. Both the system theory and coalition theory of change are applicable in the amalgamation of organizational structures of National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Georgia, Georgia Society for Clinical Social Workers (GSCSW) and other social welfare professional workforce in Georgia. Notably, the amalgamation will enhance service provision through shared standards and advocacy of disparities among the members (Lonne 5).
The trait leadership theory which advocates for certain qualities, traits and characteristics is applicable in the establishment of universal standards for social work and social welfare. According to Lonne, “unless our professional standards, ethics, and values become the benchmark for quality practice and service delivery, governments and organizations are left as the keepers of the service delivery standards” (6). In this case, the welfare remains politicized and hence motivated by convenience instead of principles. As such, social workers needs to position themselves so that they can be recognized and acknowledged by the public as keepers of proper practice and ethical standards through audits of quality and practice standards across human services. In this regard, social workers need to be characterized by intelligence, determination, sociability, and integrity to deliver quality services to the community (Sudbrack and Trombley 254).
Social work covers numerous fields and thus the standardization of social work is prone to numerous ethical challenges. One challenge is the failure of amalgamation and standardization of social work organizations to accommodate every social worker or organization (Homan 39). For instance, the appropriate standards of clinical social workers may be inapplicable to welfare and community workers. Besides, some of the universal code of ethics passed by organizations may be meant to please some members at the expense of others. Thus, such discriminatory standards will raise ethical issues which individuals or organizations should follow or implement them. Mainly, many organizations prefer temporary contracts and thus standardizing code of ethics to advocate for permanent employment will considerably draw opposition from such members because they assign part-time workers excess workloads (Carey 344). Further, the regulation through standardization will demoralize social workers since most of them will be working based on convenience instead of principles.
The code of ethics that can address the aforementioned ethical challenges is competence (National Association of Social Workers [NASW] 5). Mainly, the primary goal of a social worker is to help the public by addressing their social problems. In this regard, social workers cannot assist the public without drawing on their values, skills, and knowledge. In this regard, social workers should challenge social injustice using competence through some guidelines. For instance, social workers should offer services and represent themselves as knowledgeable in areas of their training, license, education, consultation received, certification, supervised experience, or any other professional expertise (NASW 5). Again, social workers should only offer services in substantive areas, rely on intervention techniques, or use new methods when they have undergone necessary training, consultation, supervision, and study from competent individuals. Such guidelines will ensure that social workers such as clinical social workers do not engage in activities that harm the community.
In retrospect, Georgia is facing low-quality social work practice as a state-level challenge. Mainly, this problem is associated with deprofessionalization which caused by the shift of social workers after losing decision-making power, professional categories, and underemployment. Notably, the low-quality social work practice in Georgia can be handled through the application of systems theory coalition theory of change, trait leadership theory and skills leadership to facilitate the amalgamation of social work organizations and standardization of workers qualifications and duties. The likely notable ethical challenges during the mitigation of the problem include failure to accommodate all social workers, demoralization of social workers and opposition from some organizations. In this regard, competence should be used to address the aforementioned ethical challenges by ensuring that social workers perform their duties based on their experience, training, supervision, and academic qualifications.
Carey, Malcolm. “Some Ethical Dilemmas for Agency Social Workers.” Ethics and Social Welfare 1.3 (2007): 342-347. Print.
Epstein, William M. “McSocial Work — Professional Decadence in the United States.” Hong Kong J. Social Work 37.2 (2003): 139-156. Print.
Healy, Karen and Gabrielle Meagher. “The Reprofessionalization of Social Work: Collaborative Approaches for Achieving Professional Recognition” British Journal of Social Work 34.2 (2004): 243–260. Print.
Homan, M. S. Promoting Community Change: Making it Happen in Real World. 6th ed. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning, 2015. Print.
Lonne, Bob. “Social Justice and High-Quality Human Services: Visioning the Place of a Contemporary Professional Association.” Australian Social Work 62.1 (2009): 1-9. Print.
National Association of Social Workers (NASW). Code of Ethics of the National Association of Social Workers, 2008. Web.
Sudbrack, Billie and Sarah Trombley. Lost: A Survival Guide to Leadership Theory. Advances in Developing Human Resources 9.2 (2007): 251–268. Print.