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Social Policy and Advocacy Violence Prevention Essay
Social, Policy, Advocacy, Violence, Prevention, Essay
As a social worker in a private nonprofit organization, I was hired to coordinate the activities of a newly formed countywide committee to explore and address violence prevention. The newly formed prevention committee was funded privately and managed by a local nonprofit, family service organization.
As committee coordinator, it was my role to work with the committee to identify programmatic and policy interests that could be addressed in the community. The county demographics varied by region, from affluent suburban areas to impoverished urban areas. The prevention committee was composed of professionals and community members throughout the county.
Social service workers, healthcare professionals, educators, law enforcement officials, domestic violence professionals, community members, and local government officials worked collaboratively on the committee. Through monthly meetings, I worked with members to collect data on various forms of violence within the county.
Our goals were to gain a better understanding of violence in the community, clarify unmet needs, explore available services in place, and share knowledge on violence prevention with one another. By working toward these goals, we set objectives to 1) address unmet needs through collaboration and innovation, and 2) clarify a policy agenda the entire committee would be able to support.
I examined trends and incidence levels of violence in order to identify unmet needs and narrow the focus of our policy agenda. I gathered qualitative data from all committee members regarding areas of violence prevention relevant to their work in the community. Initial feedback was widely varied as a result of the broad range of fields represented on the committee. After continued discussion with committee members, an area of common concern was found related to dating violence education in local schools.
While it was found that several individual schools were utilizing educational curricula to address dating violence, there were multiple concerns regarding large service gaps as well as inconsistencies across the school districts and the county as a whole. The committee continued discussions on the topic of dating violence prevention, sharing research and knowledge on prevention programs. As the committee continued working, a new bill was introduced in the State General Assembly addressing the specific topic of dating abuse education in public school systems.
The proposed legislation posited that each school district would be required to implement age-appropriate dating violence education as a part of the physical education and health curriculum. I proceeded with analyzing the contents of the bill by utilizing a social welfare policy analysis framework. I conducted additional research on the effectiveness of school-based dating violence prevention curricula.
I compiled a body of peer-reviewed research demonstrating the effectiveness of educational programs similar to those supported by the committee. The programs I researched were quite similar to the proposal in the new bill. Prior to the next committee meeting, I obtained approval from the executive director of the sponsoring nonprofit organization to support this bill as the committee’s policy agenda.
The committee as a whole then voted to support the dating violence education bill. We collaboratively worked to draft a letter of support for the new legislation. Each committee member then utilized the letter to advocate for the new bill. Members sent letters to, called, and arranged for meetings with their local assemblymen and assemblywomen. I composed a letter on behalf of the committee as a whole and distributed it to local government representatives.
I met with local school leaders and the county domestic violence agency’s educational program staff to discuss implementation of the new bill. The school leaders and the domestic violence education staff publicly supported the bill; the domestic violence education staff had already begun working to ensure their curriculum met the requirements of the new bill. As the legislative process continued, I tracked the bill as it passed through the Assembly Education Committee.
I provided regular updates to committee members, and I maintained communication with local legislators and continued publicly supporting the bill when I attended community meetings. The bill proceeded to the House, and with minimal amendments the final dating abuse prevention legislation was passed just as the prevention committee entered the second year of work.
Publishing, Laureate. Social Work Case Studies: Concentration Year . Laureate Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Social Work Policy: Children and Adolescents
Susana is a 15-year-old, Caucasian female who lives with her parents and younger sister in a middle-class suburban neighborhood. Her family has been involved with the county Child Protective Services due to a persistent problem with truancy attending public school during a 6-month period. The school principal requested the agency’s intervention because Susana had only attended school for 1 day during the fall semester. Her attendance the previous year was also poor, as she had missed a total of 64 out of 175 days. As the social worker assigned to the case, I met with the school principal as well as with Susana and her parents.
The principal reported that Susana, other than her recent persistent truancy, had a good school record. He said that her teachers never reported any unusual behaviors other than that Susana was somewhat quiet, shy, and kept to herself during both class and recess times. Her grades and test scores were above average during her elementary and middle school years until last year when she started to fall behind as a result of missing so many school days.
In accordance with school policy and state law (which mandates that all children up to age 16 attend school), school personnel called her parents and met with them on at least three occasions about the excessive truancy. The parents were described as concerned and cooperative but told the officials that they were unsuccessful in motivating Susana to go back to school.
Eventually, the situation progressed to the point that the parents were being assessed fines by local magistrates for the continued truancy, and the case was referred to county family court for further evaluation. When I conducted a home visit, I found that the living conditions appeared good and that both parents seemed to have a calm and relaxed approach in their communication with each other and their two daughters.
They said they had always had good relationships with their daughters and that neither had ever had serious disciplinary issues. They said that Susana had always been more reserved and less outgoing than her younger sister, who was 12 years old. The father worked in a white-collar job, and the mother did not work outside of the home. They reported no history of serious physical or mental health issues or significant traumas that might have prompted Susana’s recent pattern of staying away from school.
Susana seemed polite but also seemed reticent to discuss why she did not want to go back to school. She had few friends, seemed to stay at home all the time, and appeared very much attached to her mother, especially when compared to most other teens the same age. In contrast, her younger sister was described as having many friends and being involved with multiple extracurricular activities. I explained to both Susana and her parents that school attendance was not only mandatory but also essential to Susana’s future career development.
Because Susana seemed somewhat withdrawn and nonparticipatory during the interview process, I also told the parents to set up an appointment with her personal physician and that I would provide a referral to the local community mental health clinic for further assessment. In the meantime, the truancies continued to accrue and the case was automatically referred to a hearing before the local family court judge later that same month.
I prepared a recommendation to the court that both the parents and teen be assessed at the local community mental health center and that Susana be directed to return to school as soon as possible. Both Susana and her parents said that they concurred with these recommendations at the hearing before the judge. The judge said that he would make a decision and issue a ruling the following week.
When the judge’s finding and order were received the following week, the social worker was surprised that instead of directing community-based intervention, the judge said that Susana should be immediately removed from her parents’ custody and placed in an institutional setting (a Catholic girls’ school for delinquents) located about 100 miles away. I requested a conference with the judge, which was granted the following day.
I explained to the judge that institutionalization was not seen as warranted in this case, and that the teen was quiet and withdrawn and would likely react poorly to a crowded setting populated with delinquent teens. Further, I added that Susana seemed very attached to her parents, and I was concerned how she might react if removed from the home. I advocated for her to remain in the home, explaining that state and federal courts had ruled since the 1970s that truancy is a dependent rather than a delinquent act, and that dependent and delinquent youths cannot be housed together.
The judge responded angrily and said that he made his final decision. I went to my supervisor to see if there was any alternative course of action but was told that there was no option but to follow the judge’s order and to prepare a placement summary. I replied that I could not follow through with these directives as I did not feel it was in the best interest of the child. I was removed from the case, and it was assigned to another worker to immediately carry out the order.
I was suspended for 5 days on a charge of insubordination. Susana’s family quickly filed an appeal with a higher court, which found the judge’s ruling unlawful. Susana was not removed from her parents’ custody. I was still suspended without pay.
Publishing, Laureate. Social Work Case Studies: Concentration Year . Laureate Publishing. Kindle Edition.
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