Practice example: The Hayden Family
Family history of Hayden family re: Child Protection Concerns
(see Healy, K, (2005) Social Work Theories in Context, pp. 181-182, Palgrave McMillan.)
Kathleen (subject child) – 12 months
Max (subject child) – 4 years
Delia – 16 years
Jonathan – 18 years
Julia is a woman of Anglo-Saxon background whose own childhood was characterized by instability, loss and abuse. Julia’s mum and dad split up when she was nine years old. Initially Julia lived with her mum, but when her mother’s new partner moved in Julia was sent to live with her dad. Her father proceeded to sexually and physically abuse her – until Julia turned 14 and ran away to a refuge.
Julia experienced bouts of homelessness and, though a good student, found it hard to maintain her schooling.
She became pregnant at 16 to her boyfriend at the time, and gave birth to her first child at 17. Later she married the father of her two daughters but the relationship was characterized by violence and drug abuse, and she has been struggling with a drug habit ever since. Her oldest three children were placed in care because the violence and drug abuse affected her parenting; she had irregular contact with them for several years. Three years ago the children re-established contact with Julia and the two girls returned to her care six months later.
Julia has had a number of male partners, but most of these relationships have been characterized by domestic violence and criminal activity. The family has been residing in public housing ever since the birth of her four – year- old.
Despite her history of severe abuse, Julia has a clear picture of the sort of parent she would like to be and is able to articulate the steps she needs to take to get there. Concerns focus on her capacity to reach her goals.
Julia has a supportive drug and alcohol worker who is a very effective advocate – however, there have been concerns that this worker, and the drug and alcohol service generally, minimize the impact of the drug abuse on Julia’s ability to parent. In this case there has been a history of conflict and poor communication between the services involved with the family.
Reasons for referral to the child and family welfare service
Julia is experiencing difficulties in her ability to adequately parent her two youngest children in particular. The statutory child protection officer tells you that there have been a number of reports on the two younger children related to neglect –
in particular, emotional neglect of the children and whether or not Julia has the capacity to be a good enough parent. At one stage, she left her two young children with her mother and disappeared for two weeks on a ‘drug binge’. After this incident, the youngest child was placed in the grandmother’s care and has recently returned to Julia.
The concerns of the statutory child protection agency include: Julia’s long history of drug use; her criminal activity in relation to this; her history of being involved in violent relationships;
her ability to understand the impact of drug use on her youngest child.
She struggles to respond to her children’s needs and also has a tendency to rely on her older children to provide the parenting of the younger children. For example, her 16 year old daughter, Delia, failed to attend college because she had to stay home to look after the youngest child.
OBJECTIVE: Based on the practice example and your State or Territory Child Protection legislation and online resources develop a social work response to the situation. Demonstrate, throughout, your understanding of, and ability to enact a Crisis Intervention, AND either a response influenced by Brief Solution Focussed/Strengths OR by Narrative therapy.
As this is a child protection case you will need to show knowledge of developmental milestones and attachment theory relevant to two of the children. To do so, you will need to review your developmental psychology studies.
a). Describe the features of an agency within which you are (fictionally) working and your role within it.
b). Consider and describe, with reference to academically sound (i.e. recent -after 2005- peer reviewed journal articles and academically reputable books) the developmental stages and needs of two of the children in the Hayden family.
Describe any attachment issues to which they may be susceptible, in their situation.
c). Describe the reporting procedures in your home state or territory and the relevant departmental websites and legislation.
a). Describe how to respond to a child protection concern for the Hayden family using a Crisis Intervention approach.
b). Describe and discuss how to respond to a child protection concern for the Hayden family using either a Brief-Solution/Strengths approach OR a Narrative approach.
Include discussion of the underpinning assumptions, typical questions and approach to intervention that is involved.
c). Discuss the relative merits and shortcomings of the two approaches, and which approach is most suited to which aspects of the practice example scenario.
Based on the practice example and your State or Territory Child Protection legislation and online resources you will develop a social work response to the situation.
You will develop your understanding of, and ability to enact a Crisis Intervention, AND either a response influenced by Brief Solution Focussed/Strengths OR by Narrative therapy.
You will extend your knowledge of developmental milestones and attachment theory relevant to children, and child protection intervention.
Successful completion of Assessment Item 1 will meet the following learning Outcomes for this subject:
-be able to demonstrate an ability to intervene and deal with a range of difficult issues in group work, including working with involuntary groups, co-leadership issues, dealing with conflict, individual roles.
-be able to demonstrate consistent critical reflection on their own social work practice, incorporating new knowledge and skills into their practice.