Ethical considerations in child and family social work practices: case of Lithuania
Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuania
This presentation is about the context of Lithuania and the daily work of family social workers’ practices with children and their parents by focusing on their home visits and commentary about professional experiences. Child and family social work is a prevalent public discourse, but family social workers’ voices are minimally heard in Lithuania. In order to explore this topic, twenty-five family social workers were invited from the three largest cities Vilnius, Kaunas and Klaipėda to construct everyday child and family social work practices together. The research question: “What kind of ethical questions must family social workers consider when providing social services in the client’s homes?” Research findings open the gaps between micro-social work practices and social policy in Lithuania. Family social workers are facing difficulties due to structural problems within society and are burdened to act with ethical considerations while lacking external resources. Family social workers construct their everyday work experiences while working with the child and parent at the individual level to understand the meanings of what is going on in the practice field. Family social work daily work practices were recognised in the framework of the neoliberal model, where individualism performs the primary role, and social services efficiency is highlighted. Family social workers thus feel pressured to be as efficient as possible without any consideration of how this could be achieved, especially when a society is lacking resources. During interviews, family social workers were easily able to disclose how they act in the field when asked, but it became more complicated when talking about specific methods applied to their practice. Data revealed that family social workers’ creativity and personal resources sometimes become a way to help a child and their parents. Families’ right to live dignified lives in contemporary society should not be questionable and the discourse regarding the efficiency of social services or universal services development for families in the context of Lithuania should be highlighted.
Ethical Dilemmas of Child Protection Workers during the Pandemic –Contribution to Discussion about Future Challenges of Social Work
University of Lodz, Faculty of Educational Sciences, Department of Social Pedagogy, Poland
The speech is oriented towards two objectives. Firstly, the aim is to present practical examples from the child protection social work referring to specific ethical dilemmas that child protection workers deal with during the pandemic. The dilemmas are connected with:
- Formal regulations introduced by decision-makers in aid institutions on various management levels
- Practitioners’ individual perception of their professional role
- Relations inside the institutions that have impact on the quality of provided aid.
The presented experiences were collected during free-form interviews conducted online with assistants who agreed to talk to the researcher about their reflections, dilemmas, and hardships connected with the period of pandemic. The researcher contacted the assistants through workshops organised during an e-conference related to child protection work, which were devoted to reflection on one’s own professional practice. The researcher also used publications that are part of the ongoing discourse devoted to social work practice in the times of the pandemic in Poland.
Secondly, the aim of the paper is to initiate a discussion concerning the challenges that child protection social work practitioners face in the pandemic and post-pandemic time. It is worth discussing the presented problematic professional situations in a wider context of challenges confronted in the present and future social work practice. The paper will relate to local (Polish) context of struggle with the pandemic, as well as supralocal (European)context,from the point of view of challenges that social work faces in the 21st century. It is worth considering the conclusions that can be drawn from the times of the pandemic for further development of social work practice. This presentation aims to trigger such reflections. This is the intention of the speaker who will try to find links between local and individual experience, and wider context of supralocal and group experience in the pandemic.
Social participation on life’s edge. The Movement of Children’s Palliative Care as an impulse generator for participatory and inclusive Social Work
University of Applied Sciences Augsburg, Germany
Palliative Care is a core part of the social work profession and discipline, but is hardly recog-nised as such by the social workers themselves. The death of a relative presents one of the biggest challenges a family is forced to cope with. This challenge becomes even greater if it is the parents, who must bury their child. The natural generational order of life and death is put into reverse, confusion and uncertainty disrupt daily life. This uncertainty even extends to friends and society, distancing themselves from the affected families.
To cope with this situation, a network of psychological, spiritual, and pedagogical support is needed.
In the early 90s, as a civil society movement against putting death under taboo, it was the affected parents, who established the first organisational structures for Children’s Palliative Care. Critically ill and dying children and their adult attendants shape this difficult phase in life together. Through dedication, the German hospice movement revolutionised society and politics. It drew attention towards a new pedagogical domain and created innovative approaches for participation and inclusion.
One 20th century pedagogical thinker develops an innovative pedagogy, that includes death as inherently natural part of life: Janusz Korczak. In his Children’s Right Charter, death is addressed in the first fundamental right. It is the child’s rights to his or her own death, to live in the present and to be him- or herself, that define his education. With increasing legal demands for inclusion, social work is prompted to meet both chances and challenges, that arise from the encounter with children at the end of their life.
How do we want to shape our life together with children, that embraces death as a funda-mental part of it? How do we provide children with education and participation on life’s edge?
Children Palliative Care provides an answer. It allows for valuable experiential space for both adults and children. This in itself is highly innovative compared to the well-established (social-)pedagogical practice.
The nexus of human needs and children's rights in social work interventions
University of Applied Sciences Vorarlberg, Austria
This presentation provides insights for social work education to locate and explain the underlying causes of social problems and develop science-based action guidelines for professional practice (Geiser, 2015). For this purpose, a problem and resource framework, the w-questions, is introduced and discussed.
The w-questions framework facilitates the development of theory driven social work interventions, i.e., to develop action guidelines in response to social problems in a series of theoretical steps comprising of the following: 1) concrete facts that describe the problem, 2) hypothesis and explanation/s of the problem and its causalities, 3) value questions to forecast the problem trajectory without social work intervention, 4) formulating the objectives for problem reduction, and 5) developing interventions. The steps are illustrated using a case study that features an accompanied child asylum seeker residing in Austria, referred to as Amira, obstructed from achieving the equal right to education due to socio-cultural and economic barriers. This in turn exacerbated Amira's social marginalisation by depriving her of membership in the different social levels of school. Social marginalisation further thwarted her biopsychosocial and socio-cultural need realisation and resulted in her feeling friendless and alienated at school.
When children such as Amira are hindered from relieving their biological and psychological need tensions, they are unable to restore their bio-values (Obrecht, 2009, p. 27). This leads to social problems, which indicates a possible violation of children's rights as enshrined in the UN Convention (CRC) (United Nations, 1989). The CRC is a human rights framework in the context of multi-level governance child protection policies with implications for social work theory, ethics and practice (du Plessis-Schneider, 2020). Social workers have a triple mandate that focuses on the linkage between human need realisation and the CRC entitlements (Staub-Bernasconi, 2018). The framework of the w-questions translates to social workers being equipped with analytical and advocacy skills that foster critical thinking and creativity in the juxtaposition between child self-determination, autonomy and protection. The tentative conclusion is that knowledge and practice models that link human needs and children’s rights equip social workers with the expertise to strengthen children’s self-determination, autonomy and protection.
Well-being of children left behind
1Riga Stradins University, Latvia; 2University of Latvia, Latvia
Authors examine the phenomenon of well-being and hurt of children left behind and their carers in Latvia. The phenomenon has been reported in literature since 2005 when EU labour market became opened to economic migrants from Eastern Europe. Part of economic migrants left their children behind, promising them to unite soon.
In Latvia, many teachers realised that some good pupils suddenly changed their behaviour, becoming deviant or depressive, showing less interest into school subjects, missing school, etc. Discussions with a social worker showed that those children have been left behind by their parents to older siblings, grandparents, neighbours or by themselves.
The research deals with the social, economic and psychological well-being of children left behind. The research is based on qualitative methodology – analyses of documentaries on divided families, case study on children left behind and interviews with social workers, school teachers and substitute family members. The authors have researched the well-being of children and the substitute families from economic, psychological and social perspective. The theoretical basis of the research – E.Allardt’s theoretical approach on well-being (having, loving, being) and Puroila A.M. perspective on well-being of children.
The research results do not demonstrate high level of having dimension (material, economic and financial) well-being of children and their substitute families, indicating different perspectives of economic well-being to children and their parents. In some cases, even very limited material resources are reported by grandparent substitute families who are taking care of left behind children.
The data analyses on loving dimension demonstrate poor psychological well-being of children and substitute grandparent families, based on fragmented (or missing) verbal communication between children and parents, and fragile attachment among family members. The interview analyses showed that life uncertainty and fragmented reality is a risk factor of psychological well-being of children.
The data on the being dimension of well-being of children do not support the idea of positive social well-being of children. In many cases, social distrust to parents and society has been developed to children left behind.
The findings have implications for school teachers and social workers to help reduce hurt of children left behind and increase well-being.
Online sexual harassment among youth in Albania
University of Tirana, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work and Social Policy
The increased use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the past decade has led to the rise of a new form of Gender-Based Violence (GBV). For most young people the internet plays an essential role in their friendships and relationships, providing positive opportunities for communication, connection and self-expression. Sometimes, online sexual harassment is embedded in their digital lives, being something expected or even normalized. However, due to the escalating use of technology and the internet, girls and women are more vulnerable than ever to abuse and violence. Women face multiple forms of technology-related violence including non-consensual intimate images (NCII), doxing, blackmail, bullying, stalking, and sexual harassment.
The aim of this research is to provide a comprehensive exploration and understanding of the incidence of online sexual harassment among youth in Albania, through a gender perspective. Findings presented for this paper are part of a larger study on Intimate Partner Violence among youth in Albania. Quantitative research methods were employed for data collection and a questionnaire was designed, adapted and piloted to the Albanian context. A national survey was conducted in Albania, based on a proportional to size sampling. The total number of survey participants were N = 1063 participants of 20 to 24 years old.
To date, data collection is conducted and data entry is in process. Data analysis will be conducted in SPSS and it will include descriptive statistics (frequencies, percentages) and relational statistics such as cross - tabulations and correlations. Recommendations will include the need for social work education and practice to take into consideration these new forms of GBV, to have a better response to emerging needs, particularly in the era of Covid – 19.