Wednesday, October 2, 2013

More Thoughts on CPS

If a person has a garden and they weed it and take care of it and nurture it, and fertilizer and water it and do all the other things they need to do, it will be a very nice garden. Now tell that same person since they such a good job on one garden that you are now giving them eight more gardens to take care of. The result will be nine gardens in very bad shape . One person working on one garden can get all the work done. But he cannot just add more and more. People have limits. Put too much work on them and they just can't do it all. Human beings are human beings. They can do a good job, but that takes time and that means a reasonable caseload.

The reason the social workers were able to be so successful in the city of Adelanto in the past was because they were able to take advantage of all the family strengths by applying the strength-based perspective. United States Department of Health and Human Services describes this method as follows.

This perspective refers to practice methods and strategies that draw upon the strengths of children, families, and communities. Strength-based practice involves a shift from a deficit approach, which emphasizes problems and pathology, to a positive partnership with the family. The assessments focus on the complex interplay of risks and strengths related to individual family members, the family as a unit, and the broader neighborhood and environment.

I am not able to specify exactly what strengths were being applied in the cases I was told about. But this is obvious, almost all parents really do care about their children and want to do the best for them. They have failed to do so and become abusive out of frustration, fear, or desperation. Social workers also want to do a good job. So naturally they will try to help families when they can. Putting those two things together can be the basis for a great success. But if the social worker doesn't have enough time to get to know what a family strengths are, how could she possibly help them?

Even if the social worker is given enough time, there is still the problem of sufficient training. More training social worker gets the better they'll be able to know what tools are appropriate to help of family in particular family and how best to make those tools work. My point that a good social worker does a good job and poor social worker poor job sounds like it can't be more obvious. But when you think about it, you realize that it raises the question of why some social workers aren't doing a good job in the first place. They should have been better trained before being certified, and if they are having problems they should be given additional training, if they cannot perform at a higher level they need to be removed from the position.

When you put those two points together you see a way to make things much better without radical change. The problem is that both those changes cost money. In today's political climate it's unlikely that we'll be able to do either one of them. Still, if only those two things could be done entire system would be much more effective in serving the needs of parents, community, and the children.

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