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Managing Social Worker Values and Biases
Any biases and personal values held by social workers can lead to inaccurate assessment of situations and wrong assumptions, which can sabotage case outcomes. According to Birkenmaier and Curley (2009), social workers are unique as individuals in terms of cultural backgrounds, and in attitudes and learned behaviors. When handling cases involving individuals from minority groups such as Izzie’s, it is possible for social workers to exhibit biases that may affect their ability to act professionally. Evidently, Izzie’s case and the fact that she is from a minority group may cause a social worker to act with biases, which is against professional ethics.
To avoid acting with biases and values that are against Izzie’s expectations, I will first need to appreciate the fact that values held by the society greatly determine the values held by individuals. For example, in the America society, drug use is often associated with other crimes such as violence, homicide, and theft, as well as various social problems such as drunkenness, homelessness and sexual immorality. Accordingly, there are biased opinions that individuals involved in drug use are dangerous criminals and that they are the major contributors to the social problems faced by the American Society (Romich, Simmelink & Holt, 2007). Also, parents who indulge in drugs are often considered to be irresponsible and incapable of taking care of their children. These biases become more pronounced when the individuals are from minority groups such as Izzie and her family.
In my work with Izzie and her family, I will take the following specific measures to ensure that I do not impose my biases and values upon them. First, I will take a comprehensive inventory of my attitudes, prejudices, and notice my reactions to Izzie’s narration especially when it provokes strong feelings. This will help me to make an effort to cultivate a greater sense of awareness for the prevailing situation and avoid. Secondly, I will seek supervision if major differences come into play between Izzie and me. Seeking supervision is a useful tool that can help a social worker to develop an in-depth awareness of the problem without being biased. Lastly, I will maintain a neutral position if I discover that my values conflict with those of Izzie. This means simply listening to Izzie and acknowledging her situation without making any judgment (Dewees, 2006).
Due to the nature of Izzie’s case and suspected involvement I drugs, I would consider my dominant values and attitudes about the issue of drugs and how it is often associated with Latinos and people from other minority groups. I will examine my values about Mexican immigrants living in the United States, and how their stay in the US impacts them and their families. I will compare my values with those held by the society as well as those espoused by the social workers’ professional codes of conduct. If I find my values to be at variance with the expectations of a social worker, I will change them before I start work (Birkenmaier & Curley, 2009).
On Izzie’s side, I will challenge her values to ascertain whether she holds any biases against the way she is being treated by authorities in the United States. As already noted, she feels bitter that the system is oppressive to her family. This means that she is likely to be biased against authorities, the American society and the system. If that is ascertained, I will confront the biases by discussing with her the dangers of holding biased views, whether positive or negative. In particular, I will explain to her that biases may hinder her from participating fully in the society due to prejudices.
Biases in Social Work
Social work intervention refers to the practice of working with clients and their families to help them alleviate the identified problems and become more independent. Analysis of Izzie’s situation shows that she is in dire need of intervention (Romich et al., 2007). As the social worker handling Izzie’s case, I will institute various interventional strategies to help Izzie and her family to overcomes their present challenges and increase their life skills as well as life options. My interventions will be implemented on the basis of the identified needs, underlying issues and policy provisions in place.
In my intervention, I will take into consideration the fact since Izzie has not seen her husband for a long time and because she was separated from her children, she needs counseling. Therefore, part of my intervention will be to forge a good relationship with Izzie and help her get the required counseling. Because it is highly likely that she may not see her husband for sometime upon his release, the situation may affect her mental health. Therefore guidance will help her to regain her mental health (Parker & Bradley, 2003).
I will also recognize the fact that Izzie and her family need physical healthcare needs. Currently, Izzie is not employed and has serious difficulties meeting her family’s financial needs. The situations are likely to escalate when the husband is released from jail. Moreover, the family does not have a house, which puts their children at risk of being put under custody again. I will intervene on this matter by helping the family make a budget for their expenses. In order for them family to get housing, I will guide them in filing for government assistance through the housing department.
With regard to the issue of jobs, I will help the family to get job training which will enable them to be employed. One of the reasons why Izzie was unable to get a decent job was because she did not get the right training. In this regard, I will link her with not-for-profit organizations that help migrants get job skills. Afterward, I will connect her with employment bureaus to see if she can get a stable job. Across the United States, there are hundreds of bureaus that help migrants and other minority groups to get jobs. These bureaus will be of great help to Izzie and her family.
My last intervention will focus on helping Izzie’s children to get the best opportunities in life as other children. The couple have three young children who have not have spent a great part of their time being separated from their parents. In addition, the children witnessed all the sufferings their parents went through, from their father being arrested and being forced to sleep in the family car. Clearly, the family needs training o appropriate parenting techniques (Parker & Bradley, 2003). This is especially important because the couple’s eldest child is becoming an adolescent soon and requires the best parental guidance to make the right transition into adolescence. As a social worker, I will teach the family on the various parenting techniques and the most effective one for their children. I will stress the importance of proper nutrition, living conditions, education and healthcare for the young children. I will also assess the welfare of the children regularly to ascertain if their needs are being met and advise accordingly.
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