Cummins, L., K., & Sevel, J., A. (2017). Social work skills for beginning direct practice: Text, workbook, and interactive web based case studies (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
- Chapter 1, An Introduction to Social Work and the Helping Process (pp. 117)
- Box 1.2, Case Study: Sarah (p. 12)
Note: You will focus on this case study for Discussion 2.
Do you consider yourself an advocate, educator, activist, facilitator, mediator, or broker? Social workers take on all of these roles at various times. For example, a social worker may initiate and uphold change through social action. Alternatively, certain factors, such as race, social class, mental health, or sexual orientation may influence the social workers role. Therefore, the social worker must understand the client issue in order to be an effective helper. Regardless of the role, the direct practice social worker has the obligation to serve clients in multiple roles on many levelsmicro, mezzo, or macro.
In this Discussion, you examine the multidimensional roles social workers fulfill in order to serve the best interest of the client.
To prepare: Review Case Study: Sarah, found in the course text.
- Box 1.2 Case Study: Sarah
- You are a social worker at a not-for-profit social service agency that provides support services and training to help young single mothers achieve self-sufficiency. Sarah, a 17-year-old single pregnant female, was referred to your agency by her school counselor. At intake, the social worker tries to put Sarah at ease by providing her with a comfortable chair to sit in, asking about her general well-being, and letting Sarah guide the pace of the interview. A few questions on the intake form may include an inquiry about her current life situation, identifying and contact information, current support systems in place, level of education, and so on. Using these techniques, the social worker reaches out to engage Sarah in the helping process and to build a rapport that communicates care and concern. In such an atmosphere, Sarah is able to begin to tell the story of what has led her to seek services on this day. By taking the time to make Sarah feel comfortable and cared for, the social worker has learned that Sarahs presenting problem is that of impending homelessness. She is four months pregnant and has been kicked out of her parents home. When Sarah informed her boyfriend of two years, Joseph, about her pregnancy, he broke up with her, saying he had plans for college and could not take on raising a family at this point in his life. Sarah is confused and depressed and uncertain about how to handle her situation. During the assessment process, you discover that Sarah is without family support, has dropped out of school, has isolated herself from her peers, and has no money and no place to live. For the past week, Sarah has been spending the night at various classmates homes, sometimes without the knowledge of their parents. She has worn out her welcome with her friends families, and last night she slept under a bridge about a mile from her parents home. Although fearful, confused, and uncertain, prior to her current crisis, Sarah presented herself as a responsible student and daughter. Consequently, she is motivated to establish some stability in her life and is seeking help in improving her situation. Together, you and Sarah identify problem areas that need to be addressed and accentuate her strengths in constructing a plan of action and a contract.
- The following treatment goals are mutually agreed on between you and Sarah:
Gain access to prenatal care
Apply for Medicaid and TANF
Explore temporary housing and apply for subsidized housing benefits
Enroll in a support group for single teen parents
Engage in ongoing individual counseling for dealing with issues of family disruption, self-esteem, and depression
Enroll in GED classes
Sign up for vocational training for job placement
Begin parenting and family planning classes
Pursue child support payments
Together, you and Sarah prioritized the treatment goals and placed them within a specific time frame. During the treatment and intervention stage, Sarah was able to find temporary housing with a family friend until the birth of her child. Meanwhile, as her social worker, you linked her to a local public health clinic where she received prenatal care and referred her to the public aid office, where she applied for and received Medicaid and TANF benefits. Sarah attended her GED classes twice a week and planned on completing her diploma by the time her child is born. You also referred her to the local housing authority, where Sarah applied for subsidized housing. At the time, she was facing a waiting list of six months. Sarah continued her weekly counseling session and was able to consider mending her broken relationships with her parents. Sarah enrolled in an early childhood development training program in preparation for employment after the birth of her child. Classes will begin when she completes her GED program. After six months of working with Sarah as her primary social worker, you evaluated her progress and assessed the extent to which Sarah had been able to attain her treatment goals. Over the five-month period, Sarah made the following progress on her treatment goals:
Consistently kept her prenatal care appointments, followed her physicians instructions, and gave birth to a full-term, healthy son
Received Medicaid and TANF benefits and maintained her eligibility
Moved into a one-bedroom public housing unit in a safe neighborhood
Attended only two sessions of her support group for single teen parents
Attended 90 percent of her weekly counseling sessions and was feeling more focused and less depressed
Reestablished communication with her family
Completed her GED
Was scheduled to begin child care development classes in six weeks
Had information on the local family planning clinic
Received in-home parenting instruction from a home interventionist working with new mothers
Spoke to a legal aid attorney about pursuing child support
Together, you and Sarah conclude that she has acquired a sufficient level of empowerment and determine that it is time to evaluate and terminate the helping relationship. You and Sarah have created an environmental structure that will support and nurture her and her son, and as her social worker, you leave the door open for future contact.
- Describe how the social worker served in the role of case manager for Sarah.
- Identify at least two other roles that the social worker could have filled that would have helped Sarah.