Utilization of Agency and Community Resources
During my field practice, I encountered several situations where the need for a referral to community service was observed. In one such case, our department was visiting a family where, according to the request by local community members, the child was unable to receive proper care. Before the visit, it was determined that one of the parents was abusing alcohol, which put the child at increased risk of neglect and physical abuse.
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Thus, I concluded on the need for a referral to a local community agency that would assess the child’s performance at school, identify possible developmental delays, and provide necessary assistance with the education process. Such referral consists of several steps. First, the apparent need for the referral is identified. Second, the need is verified using the available information to acquire direction for the inquiry and focus on a specific area of intervention.
During the contact with the family in question, a referral form is filled in, which contains the essential information on the factors relevant for the community resource in question (in this case, the reports of the relatives on the child’s poor school performance as well as the pertinent issues in the family). Family members are informed of the factors responsible for a referral and the expected effects. The form is then passed to the agency where it is received by the screening team that determines the further course of actions. Finally, a communication channel is established for tracking the progress of the intervention and informing the stakeholders about the outcomes of the referral.
Foster care service delivery is affected by several issues associated with diversity. For instance, same-sex adoption, which offers a wider array of children placement options, is still prone to social pressure due to misconceptions and stereotypes that remain visible in modern society. These misconceptions can also affect social workers and agency employees, whose personal beliefs may contradict the official values of the organization (Phoenix, 2016).
Families formed by parents with different cultural backgrounds also present challenges to human services delivery since their children sometimes obtain a distinctive cultural profile that does not fit within known patterns and occasionally leads to a cultural loss (Phoenix, 2016). Finally, religious beliefs in a family can create barriers to service delivery if the behaviors and relationships determined by religious practice conflict with the necessary interventions suggested by social workers.
I suggest the following framework for generating new referrals by the organization. First, a committee must be formed that would be responsible for the coordination of needs with the community. Next, the available data on the referrals and requests from the population must be assessed to identify the most frequently addressed areas. This would provide a clearer direction for further search.
The committee will then locate the resources which align with the identified needs of the community or may offer support and relevant services. Once the validity of services is confirmed, representatives from the located organizations can be approached to establish communication channels and provide two-way collaboration opportunities. The contacted resources should then be compiled into a comprehensive, informative, and accessible list that should be put on the organization’s website.
Finally, supportive documentation needs to be designed and distributed among the community agencies (e.g. standardized referral forms, eligibility criteria, and documents regulating confidentiality). Organization of data logging and processing is recommended at the early stage of resource generation, with appropriate supporting documentation.
Value and Ethical Base of Agency Practice
Most of the practices of the Human Services Agency are consistent with the core values of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). First, foster care and assistance provided by the agency incorporate training sessions and informative practices both for foster parents who temporarily adopt children and biological parents who are unable to provide the necessary level of care. In this way, the agency assures the possibility of maintaining a psychological connection to the family, which is consistent with the importance of human relations as an NASW core value (NASW, 1999).
Second, the employees of the agency constantly revise and improve educational programs to make them more focused on the promotion of social responsibilities within the individuals and their mindful self-awareness as members of the community. The goal of such improvements is the promotion of a socially conscious member of the community who is aware of the social responsibilities and expectations. Therefore, it aligns with the value of dignity and worth of a person (NASW, 1999).
Finally, the assistance provided by the agency in conducting an approved home study necessary for the adoption of a child, as well as the incorporation of permanency goals for children who enter the foster care system, ensure that their human rights are upheld, and the necessary care is delivered consistently and systematically. These facts point to the incorporation of NASW social justice values (Norfolk Human Services, n.d.).
Since social work frequently deals with highly diverse members of the community and targets inequality and social misconceptions as a part of its goals, it requires respect from its employees as well as the promotion of mutual respect among the community members. These requirements align with respect as formulated in Saint Leo University values (Saint Leo University, n.d.). Similarly, personal development is a value that requires a conscious commitment to improvements of physical, spiritual, and intellectual capacity from the members of the community (Saint Leo University, n.d.). This core value can be observed in the agency where individual inquiry and striving for excellence are encouraged and expected from the employees to achieve the highest level of service.
I can identify two areas where my values conflict with those pertinent to the agency. First, I sometimes encounter situations where the overall evaluation suggests the adequate level of care provided by the family, but the subtle details suggest the presence of negative influences and factors. The agency’s values unambiguously emphasize the integrity of practices, which implies compliance with formal requirements and discourages intuitive conclusions.
I believe that at least in few cases the overlooked issues can stay undetected, which makes me feel powerless. Also, at least once I dealt with the situation where the parents’ religious beliefs interfered with the quality of services offered by the agency. The values unambiguously place the dignity and worth of the person high on the list, although the margins of the necessary action do not necessarily coincide with my thoughts on the subject.
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I must admit there is no way of definitively solving any of the issues since both involve finding a balance between two goals. I can, however, suggest improving the formal eligibility criteria to make the assessment more holistic. Once the evaluation includes all the necessary parameters and is objective enough, I believe there would be no reason to worry about the validity of the results and all perceived doubts could be safely discarded as completely unfounded.
NASW. (1999). NASW code of ethics. Web.
Norfolk Human Services. (n.d.). Foster care & adoption. Web.
Phoenix, A. (2016). Diversity, difference and belonging in childhood: Issues for foster care and identities. Web.
Saint Leo University. (n.d.). Mission & values. Web.