Initial assessment The initial assessment will begin with the two children and thus proceed with an assessment of their parents. Other considerations will be included such as other adults living with in the household namely Michael and Edith with consideration of their environment.
Darren at risk of receiving an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO); however O’Dell (2011) suggests youths are often misunderstood by society and implies ASBO’s contribute to this by adding to fears of crime rather than a true reflection of actual offences.
Furthermore Crawford (2010) suggests adolescence is a time of turmoil in terms of transcending from childhood to adult and implies cultural influences play an important role in finding ones identity.
Although Darren has expressed he enjoys school when it is football and art Darren behaviour, missing school and attracting the attention of the police is a cause of concern to his father Graham Bennett, this is reflected in Graham’s attempts to ground Darren and the unfortunate pushing incident that lead to Darren having a cut above his ear.
In addition Darren’s school question the validity of Darren’s explanation of his head injury and have concerns over his poor attendance at school, which has led to this referral.
Jessica Jessica’s school have made this referral over concerns of her behaviour, delayed learning and delayed speech, however aside from any possible medical implications pertaining to Jessica’s delayed speech, in regard to Jessica’s behaviour the family dynamics which will be highlighted later in this assessment, may suggest difficulties in Jessica’s attachment (Ainsworth 1978 cited in Howe 2009 p45), suggests, when a child has unmet attachment needs they may become confused and frustrated.
Maclean (2009) echoes this by stating Children “express attachment anxiety in their behaviour”. Graham Graham is clearly concerned over his anxiety issues; Lishman (2007) suggests anxiety can affect an individual’s ability to function normally. Graham has attempted to address this with visits to his doctor who has prescribed anti-depressants, nevertheless Graham feels increasingly isolated from other family members and as developed alcohol dependency that maybe due to unemployment or a perceived lack of purpose with in his family unit.
Furthermore Rantakeisu (1999) implies the long term unemployed experience high levels of anxiety and reduced levels of self-esteem. In addition (Goffman 1990 cited in Thompson 2010) refers to a “spoilt identity”, referring to social stigma and how cultural influences can be damaging to an individual’s identity. Karen Karen has expressed her wish to improve her employment prospects by returning to education however Karen is working two jobs at present, due to this Karen spends a lot of time out of the family home.
Karen as expressed feelings of being overwhelmed and feels Graham should do more to help with the children while he is unemployed. In addition there appears to be an over reliance on Michael Karen’s eldest son from a previous relationship. Adding to Karen’s family commitment strains Karen as experienced the loss of her mother two years ago, (Kubler-Ross cited in Lishman 2007p202) suggests those whom are grieving go through a transitional phase that may include denial.
Correlating to this is Currer (2009) suggests individual experiences of loss effect behaviour. This may explain Karen’s reluctance to engage with Jessica’s school and may wish to avoid any further anxiety this may cause. In addition Currer (2009) implies a broad view of loss would enable the Social worker to be truly anti oppressive. Michael Rogers Michael is Karen’s eldest son from a previous relationship and lives in the family home, at present he is sharing a bedroom with Darren and Jessica.
He supports his mother with Jessica by taking and collecting her from school. However Michael is concealing personal issues from his mother in fear it may add to her already stressful life. Nevertheless Adams (2005) suggests Social work is diverse and aspects of sexuality should be considered in order to improve Social work knowledge and enable the Social worker to be non-judgemental. nevertheless Michael as expressed his desire to move out although he worries this may also add to Karen’s stress levels.
Edith has her own local authority run home however she has moved in to the Bennett family home to aid her recovery from illness. Edith appears to be able to keep Jessica calm and enjoys looking after her. However Edith loss her daughter two years ago (Karen’s mother) and may be experiencing similar feelings as Karen. Nevertheless Edith appears reluctant to return to her own home, Currer (2009). However (Erikson 1982 cited in Crawford 2010 p142) suggests there is a challenge between success and despair in the elderly with each instance being subjective. Environment
Although the Bennett family live in an area of deprivation there are signs of improvement, a school, health centre and sure start centre are new to the area. However there are still a number of social problems such as burglaries, gangs, truancy and a drug culture. Nevertheless the family is overcrowded in their current situation and high levels of stress are evident in Karen and Graham Bennett, where ineffective communication appears to be. There is nothing to suggest the Bennett’s are in receipt of benefits, although they are clearly entitled to a number of benefits due to Karen the mother working.
Nash (2005) implies viewing environmental elements to families and individual lives enables Social Workers to gain a deeper insight to how individuals behave; furthermore (Payne 1997 cited in Nash 2005 p 32) states this may aid the “recognition of the influence of systems in the life of people”. It could be argued the home environment or family dynamics relate to this on the premise that Jessica sees little of her parents whom through no fault of their own have their own difficulties. Planning
National occupational standards require Social Workers to adhere to many key roles according to (Walker 2008 p58) “key role 1: Prepare for, and work with, individuals, families, carers, groups and communities to assess their needs and circumstances. ” Correlating to this (Sutton 1999 cited in Parker 2007 p8) suggests this is aided by a Social Work process known as the Aspire model, an acronym that describes a Social Work cycle as assessment, planning, intervention, review and evaluate.
As the initial Social Worker acting on a referral from two schools it is important to recognise legislation when visiting the Bennett family. (Brammer 2010 p183), states “safeguarding children is paramount in accordance with the Children’s Act 2004”. In addition Milner (2009) suggests the Children’s Act 2004 also acknowledges the importance of parental involvement in providing wellbeing for children, which stipulates local authorities to liaise with other services in order to achieve greater parental involvement.
During my Introductions I would explain this to the Bennetts and give the reason of my visit and inform them of what they may expect from me as a Social Worker while advising them of my duties regarding safeguarding children as highlighted previously. To aid the assessment and to involve the Bennetts fully, an explanation of the assessment process will be given and inquires will be made in to how the Bennetts would prefer theirs to be done, either on an individual basis or as whole family together, however a number of family members may wish a one to one assessment.
Butler (2004) suggests this is a valuable process to the Social Worker and service users, in this instance the Bennett family. Furthermore (Dalrymple and Burke, 1995 cited in Dominelli p32, 2002) suggests this approach is service user focused and empowering. Additionally Wilson (2008) implies service user involvement in the planning process is crucial to effective interventions that should involve the service user from the onset. After the initial assessment the Bennetts will be informed of the findings and advised of the possible approaches that may be used to ease their struggles.
Thus phase two of the Aspire model will begin and planning will commence (Parker 2007). A number of issues come to light with the assessment of the Bennett family as (Beckett 2005 cited in O’loughlin p1 2008) states “Values and ethics do not exist on the fringes of Social Work, but are at the heart of Social Work practice”. Relating to this, Doel (2005) implies personal values influence practice, in addition Oko (2008) suggests Social Workers must be critical of their own values and how they influence practice.
With this in mind, my own work ethic and views on child rearing would be clear influences on my own practice, because of these factors a non-judgemental approach of the Bennetts has been attempted by taking in to account social, cultural and environmental aspects this approach as also included human growth and development theories along with medical aspects in regard to Jessica’s delayed speech and learning. As suggested earlier family dynamics may be a contributing factor to Jessica’s delays, high level of stress evident in Karen and Graham Bennett combined ith a lack of effective communication between a number of family members may be compounding factors. Nevertheless a further analysis of the assessment, several difficulties arise as Social Work literature suggests there is a broad scope of theoretical perspectives and approaches aimed at helping the Social Worker gain insight to those experiencing difficulties in their everyday lives. However with full involvement of the Bennetts it is proposed direct work with Graham and collaboration with health and education regarding Jessica would be the most advantageous in resolving their experienced difficulties.
A task centred approach appears the most appropriate intervention to work in collaboration with Graham Bennett; this can be justified on a number of levels. Maclean (2009) suggests this model is appropriate for those experiencing frustration, experiencing difficulty in role performance and functioning, the unemployed and personal conflict. An analysis of Graham’s circumstances highlights several parallels to this model. Graham feels isolated, is unemployed, alcohol dependant as little or no influence with his children and is unable appears unable to communicate effectively with his wife Karen.
A further justification Marsh (2005) suggests task centred work is service user lead and thus empowering, key values for Social work practice. Gscc (2002) Marsh (2005) suggests the implementation of a task centred approach should be ‘SMART’ an acronym standing for Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. Trevithick (2005) suggests this is achieved by the service user identifying three problems, prioritising identified problems and formulating objectives setting goals.
Furthermore Maclean (2009) suggests once goals have been set and prioritised an agreement is entered in to by the service user and Social Worker, this is to aid focus of the service user and to define the Social workers role in aiding the service user achieve their goals. However has it has been highlighted that task centred approach is empowering and focused, Maclean (2009) suggests task centred approach does not address complex issues and rises questions over service users entering agreements implying contracts remove choice and thus removing empowerment.
It is suggested a time limit of twelve weeks would be an appropriate time scale for Graham to achieve his goals Lindsay (2009) these goals may include a reduction of his alcohol intake or spending more time with his children, a starting point may include watching a football game with Darren or putting Jessica to bed a number of nights a week and reading to her. However it is for Graham to set his own goals and for the Social Worker to encourage him in his attempt to achieve them Marsh (2005).
Working to the ‘Smart’ model would in its self be a small step in achieving desired goals thus giving the service users encouragement and a sense of purpose Marsh (2005). In regard to Jessica HM Government (2010) state collaboration is essential for effective intervention success, with this in mind collaboration from Jessica’s school and local health centre will be sought. This will be to ascertain Jessica’s levels of delay and to determine if there are any underlying causes to her delayed speech, such as hearing impairments.
Trevithick (2005) suggests this approach is an ideal opportunity to empower and gain the trust of service users as they may feel they are still in control of their own parenting. However Lindsay (2009) implies although legislation requires agencies to work in collaboration with others there is often confusion of job roles and any benefits gained are often lost. Review and evaluate The final two stages of the aspire model as described earlier is an opportunity for all those involved to reflect on their contribution to the work carried out from assessment through to interventions Parker (2007).
Furthermore Dominelli (2002) suggests this is an opportunity to examine if as a Social Worker they have worked anti oppressively. Nevertheless as part of the evaluation it is deemed empowerment is the only course of action available to Michael advice will be given in regard to Michaels valid approach to his own issues Trevithick (2005) suggests aside from the fact he would not come under the scope of any legislation and he is not a vulnerable adult and is sound in his capacities, enablement is the only possible course of action.
However it is believed the greatest improvement will be gained if Graham is empowered to get through his struggle. The decision to work directly with Graham did not come easy given the breadth of approaches and theories. An example of one such theory, loss and grief, this theory has been explored in regard to Karen and Edith thus suggesting grief counselling would be the most appropriate approach. However Lindsey (2009) suggests that loss and grief may be considered a time of crisis thus calling for crisis intervention approach.
In addition Thomson (2000) suggests Karen’s experiences of being overwhelmed may indeed constitute a time of crisis. Correlating to this is (Chaplin 1965 cited Maclean 2009 p225) list of three stages of crises, impact, recoil, and adjustment and adaptations stages. In essence the three stages attempt to describe what an individual may experience and how coping mechanisms used as an individual’s coping strategy may become overwhelmed in a crisis.
In addition Trevithick (2006) suggests crisis intervention strengths include empowering the service users as successful interventions often elicit higher coping levels, however Payne (1997) implies crisis intervention is often used by those experiencing continuous crises and suggests there are time limits when this intervention approach is effective, furthermore Trevithick (2006) suggests specific training is often require for practitioners to use this intervention. Because of these factors considering the elapsed time since Karen and Edith experienced their loss it is felt crisis intervention would not be an appropriate intervention.