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Contemporary to Social Work sample essay

Taking into consideration all the material received regarding the Benjamin family, I have chosen to make use of the think child, think parent and think family approach in analysing the material. This method identifies what changes are required to improve service planning, delivery and practice and this will assist to improve the wellbeing and life chances of families affected by parental health. This essay will examine all the material provided focusing particularly on Daniel and Emma Watson. However, an examination of the Benjamin’s family will be performed in view of developing a modality on how to provide support to them. This essay is aimed at making preparation for assessment, taking into account individual needs, culture, diversity, and available resources that will enable me to provide support for everyone especially Daniel. Firstly, the essay will look at the Law that governs adoption processes, Daniels wishes and what needs to transpire to improve his quality of life.

Secondly, I will also look at the Benjamin family and their proposal to adopt Daniel. In addition to this, I will examine Emma Watson and try to find out how I can facilitate her need to get her son back and what can be done to overcome barriers she may encounter, and finally I will offer a summary of the essay. In order for me to begin to think about the assessment process, my main duty would be to find out what the law declares. As put forward by Brammer (2003), Adoption Order may not be made unless the parent’s consents to the Adoption Order under Children Act 1989 S.20, or their consent should be dispensed and the child has been placed for adoption by an adoption agency with the prospective adopters in whose favour the order is proposed to be made. A parent is the mother or married father or father with parental responsibility, and not the unmarried father without parental responsibility. Steps are made to contact the unmarried father of a child and counsel him and seek his views on adoption even though he does not have to give his consent.

The court or adoption agency must have regard to the following matters (the list is not intended to be exhaustive nor in any order of priority) Children Act 1989 S. 1(4) a) The child’s ascertainable wishes and feelings regarding the decision (considered in the light of the child’s age and understanding). The guidance to this Act reinforces this aspect of the checklist stating; “it is essential that an adoption agency, in so far as reasonably practicable , involves and consults the child at all stages of the adoption process, ascertaining and taking into account his views in a way which is sensitive to, and consistent with his age and understanding” (para.13). b) The child’s particular needs; This factor includes the child’s physical, emotional and educational need as expressed in the checklist and is likely to extend to other needs including social psychological and health. c) The likely effect on the child (throughout his life) of having ceased to be a member of the original family and to become an adopted person, in addition to this statement The United Nation Convention on the Rights if the Child states that it is the fundamental right of every child to belong to a family and Article. 8 of the ECHR the right to respect family life. As with the welfare principle, the court must consider the effects on the child throughout his life.

d) The child’s age, sex, background and any of the Child’s characteristics which the court or agency considers relevant. e) Any harm (within the means of Children Act 1989) that the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering. This refers to any harm and not just significant harm The relationship which the child has with relative and with any other person in relation to whom the court or agency considers the relationship to be relevant, including (i) the likelihood of any such relationship continuing and the value to the child of doing so, (ii) the ability and willingness of any of the child’s relatives, or of any such person to provide the child with a secure environment in which the child can develop, and otherwise to meet the child’s needs, (iii) the wishes and feelings of any of the child’s relatives, or of any such person regarding the child.

This factor is one of the provisions in the Act that calls on the courts to consider contact. (S.1 (8) (a) allows the views of other important people in the child’s life to be taken into account such as foster and it also includes the child’s birth parents. Moreover, the delay principle is drawn from the Children Act. Section 1 (3) the court or adoption agency must at all times bear in mind that, in general, any delay in coming to the decision is likely to prejudice the child’s welfare. The court draws up a timetable for the avoidance of delay. The Public Outline also has an impact on the overall timescale for a child between care proceedings and final placement. In addition to this Section 1(5) states that in placing the child for adoption the agency must give due consideration to the child’s religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background. The guidance in a circular “Adoption – Achieving the right balance” recognised the importance of a child’s ethnic origin, culture and religion as significant factors to be accounted for; noting that placement with a family of similar ethnic origin is most likely to meet the child’s needs as fully as possible”.

Adoptions takes a while to process and this allows the Multi-disciplinary agencies time to prepare the family and especially give Emma the support she requires if she is still interested in having Daniel back or not. Studies indicate that when the child is placed for adoption birth parents face bereavement as they face losing their child for good even if it is the child’s best interest. On-going contact help alleviate some of their anguish and bringing them benefits such as reassurance that the child is alright, making the loss of their child easier to accept, helping them to feel more positively about the adoptive parents and seeing a positive role for themselves in their child’s future. Coulshed and Orme (2006) define assessment as “an on-going process in which the service user participates, the purpose of which is to understand people in relation to their environment; it is the basis for planning what needs to be done to maintain, improve and bring about change”.

The five stages of assessment process involve Preparation, data collection, examining the data, data analysis and acting on outcomes of the data analysis. Bell et al (2007) and White (2009) state that a good assessment ensures that the child remains at the heart of the assessment, contains full, brief, significant and precise data, makes good use of information from a range of sources, includes a family and social history and includes a clear analysis. Here I am now examining the data. In the correspondence, it appears that the Benjamin family want to adopt Daniel, whilst both Mr and Mrs Benjamin may be a little old to adopt Daniel; they might be an exception as Daniel is already in their care and he appears to fit in well with the family. One of the Benjamin’s roles in Daniels life is to help him maintain attachment with his mother. They must also help the child to develop healthy and strong new attachments with themselves and then transfer those attachments to the permanent caretakers of Daniel who may be either Emma or adoptive parents.

Barbara has good support network in the family, which includes Naseem who has worked as a Social Work assistant and has had good background of meeting the needs of ethnic minority children. Barbara is already an expert in caring for Daniel in the documentation I received it appears she responds to his behaviour and deals with his need on a daily basis. However, I have to carry out an assessment on attachment to determine whether it is advisable that they have such strong bonds as suggested by document A1 received 09.01.12. When assessing attachment between Daniel and the Benjamin family, I would look at Daniel and his environment. I would observe his developmental functions and take note of the behaviour he displays in the home and how he responds to the family. As I observe, I need to look at the interactions with the adults and observe whether Daniel appears relaxed or not. Observing the Benjamin family includes how they react to the Daniels advances; the interactions that they initiate with him, disciplinary techniques used in the home and the family’s awareness of Daniel as a separate individual who has needs of his own and not relating all of his behaviour to their needs.

Furthermore, I would observe whether Daniel engages in age appropriate activities and is able to express frustration or not. I would be interested in knowing whether Daniel responds appropriately to being apart from Barbra and how he responds upon her return. In addition to this, I would need to know if the environment provides adequate stimulation and safety measures appropriate to Daniel’s age and stage of development. If the case is that Daniel is not receiving support he will become disconcerted, insecure and without self-esteem. Fahlberg (1988), suggested that toddlers aged two should be able to use words like “me” and “mine”, point consistently to body parts, combine two to three words, name pictures of common object and follow simple direction. However, Daniel suffers from cytomegalovirus and because of this, his developing is slow and he will need extra care and time for caregivers to meet his needs.

It is important that Emma is educated on what it is and what kind of responsibilities is attached to caring for Daniel for a lifetime. According to The National Health Service UK, Cytomegalovirus also known as CMV is part of the herpes virus. CMV is part of the human to human transmissible through close bodily contact. Coughs and sneezes are also possible routes of transmission. There is no current cure for CMV infection however medication can help people with weak immune system; in Daniels case, he was born with what could be medically termed as congenital CMV, children born with it show no signs or symptoms although some eventually develop hearing loss like Daniel. Some of the symptoms these children have are treatable but the children may develop hearing loss and one or more disabilities during the course of their lives. These symptoms may include seizures, problems with physical co-ordination, deafness cognitive difficulties and many more.

Fahlberg (1988) propose that Caregivers who understand developmental issues are less likely to be as upset by normal behaviour and more likely to support the child as he struggles with the basic tasks at each stage. They are more readily able to perceive what a child needs to help him grow. Emma Watson made a phone call to Social Services recently. In the conversation, she stated that she wanted her son Daniel, back. Daniel has been in a foster placement with the Benjamin Family. The Benjamin’s would like to adopt him and it appears that Daniel has settled well with the family. According to Rutter, (1989) and Black, (2000), research shows that children end up doing badly when an attachment bonds are disturbed. They suggested that children are to be moved when it is inevitable, in situations such as, when parents die or when they are being placed away from an abusive home they continue and state that it is unjustifiable to move a child from a safe foster home.

Bowbly (1951) advised that a child should receive the continuous care of a single most important attachment figure for approximately the first two years of his life. He claimed that mothering is almost useless if delayed until after two and a half to three years and if the attachment figure is broken, during the critical two year period the child will suffer irreversible long term consequences of this loss of the care giver as well as failure to develop an attachment. For Daniel this means that if his bond with the Benjamin’s is disrupted, he will almost fail to thrive in his new environment as he had already formed his attachment with the family.

In relation to the phone call made by Emma, I would like to explore further and find out whether Emma has any knowledge on parenting and what she thinks a family entails, I would like to know what Emma knows about Daniels disability and needs. I would investigate on what she knows about Cytomegalovirus and if it results that she is unaware, I would help her expand her learning – build and share library resources, encourage her to be involved with parents groups to access support and community resources and if she wishes, I would look at finding her additional support such as an advocate. An advocate will help to increase resilience and self-efficacy. In addition to this, I would investigate on why she has come to the decision of wanting him back. I would be interested in knowing whether there is any communication between Emma and Daniels father, including people in Emma’s life.

I would find out whether they are aware of Daniel and that, he is of the Asian race and I would explore on whether the people in Emma’s life would be able to appreciate Daniels uniqueness, and discretely examine on whether they are aware of his learning disability. I will also be interested in Emma’s living condition, environment, financial situation and lifestyle up to date, if these are not up to standard, attempt to help her have a secure base. Turney et al., (2007), states that an assessment needs careful consideration of the inter-relationship concerning the good and the bad influences in a child’s life i.e. the risk factors that are possible to impact on the child’s health and growth as well as the protective factors. Both Macdonald and Williamson (2002) and Preston-Shoot (2003), suggest that the Assessment Framework for Children in Need and their families demands that each child needs are assessed as well as the aptitude of the parents and the impact of family and environmental influences on each child’s growth and on the parents capacity to meet the child’s needs.

Bell et al., (2007) and Mitchell and Sloper, (2008) advises that assessments of disabled children may involve tailoring of the recording templates to reveal their individual strength, capability and needs and to capture their involvement to the assessment process through their preferred method of communication, this implies that a person is an expert in their own experience. Holland (2010) and Thomas and Holland (2010) put forward that the knowledge of child development is important for good assessment outcomes. Selwyn et al, (2006) and Ward et al., (2010) identified problems while carrying out an assessment on attachment, they claimed that clingy behaviour was misinterpreted as evidence of strong attachment moreover some assessments were based on observation of a few circumstances to be consistent. Jones (2009) and Reder et al., (2003) state that assessment of parents includes capacity to meet the child’s needs and the importance of understanding the basic requirements of parenting and taking into consideration the parent’s ability to change.

Moreover Farmer et al., (2008) and Harwin et al., (2003), recommend that psychological assessments are valuable when assessing parenting capacity. It was also their suggestion that one way of testing parental capacity to change parenting behaviour and to give them managed opportunities to change. This is achieved by giving the parents clear objectives of what needs to change and informing them on how this will be assessed, monitored and the time scale required completing the task. Forrester and Harwin, (2008) and Harwin (2009), also propose that motivational interviewing techniques are useful in addressing readiness to change in situations of alcohol or drug misuse. This shifts the decision to change to Emma allowing her to discover her own strength and hidden motivation.

According to Farmer et al., (2008) and Harwin and Forrester (2002) the role of fathers and men in the household needs to be examined and Social Workers need to ensure that information about fathers is available whenever possible, as fathers may exert a considerable influence even when they are to living with the child. In addition to this, Social Workers need to take account of the impact of factors related to family functioning and family history. Assessing family functioning provides a basis for a strength-based approach that’s accepts that all adults and children possess the power that can be comprehensive to improve the quality of their lives. Mental Capacity Act S. 1(3) states that, an adult does not lack capacity to make any specific decision unless all practicable steps have been taken to aid him or her to make the decision.

Laird, (2010) advises that a vulnerable adult may require advocacy support or communication communicated in other form to be able to participate in decision-making. This relates to the GSCC Code 3.1 “promoting the independence of service-users and assisting them to understand and exercise their rights. Therefore, Assessment of parental capacity depends on communication. Improving the assessment requires different approach when collecting information; these approaches may include observation, assessing changes in parenting practises, use of validated tools and consideration of previous reports regarding the child and family. Assessment involves gathering of all sort of documented information and records from a range of sources this include medical history, social and developmental history. Consent is sort and confidentiality adhered too.

To conduct my assessment successfully, as well as working with Daniel, Emma Watson and the Benjamin family I will be looking at liaising with a multi-disciplinary team, which would involve Social Services, general Doctor and the one who is trained in cytomegalovirus, Occupational therapist, Speech therapist and a mental health worker. These people will assist me to add data to my assessment and contribute to making informed decisions about Daniels future needs. In summary, I would give Emma a chance to prove that she can be a good parent. I will offer her support, information and guidance to what needs to take place, and set targets. I believe that she might not realise the impact of uprooting her son until she is made fully aware of Daniel’s disability needs. In my assessment, I have to prioritise Daniel’s best interest and now, it appears this lies with the Benjamin family who give the impression that they are a dedicated family. Prior to this, Daniel has thrived in their care.


1. Brammer, A., (2010) Social Work Law, 3rd Ed, Harlow: Pearson Education. 2. Bell, M., Shaw. I., Sinclair. I., Sloper. P., and Rafferty, J., (2007) An Evaluation of the Practice, Process and Consequences of the ICS in Councils with Social Services Responsibilities. Report to Department for Education and Skills Welsh Assembly Government. 3. Coulshed, V & Orme, J., (2006) – Social Work Practice, 4th edition, Hampshire, Palgrave Macmillan 4. Department for Health (2005) The Mental Capacity Act. London HMSO 5. Farmer, E., Sturgess, W. and O’Neill, T., (2008) The reunification of Looked After Children With Their Parents: Patterns interventions and outcomes. Report to the Department for Children, Schools and Policy Studies, University of Bristol 6. Fahlberg, V., (1988) Fitting the pieces together. London: British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering. 7. Forrester, D. and Harwin, J., (2008) Parental substance misuse and child welfare: outcomes for children two years after referral. British Journal of Social Work, 38: 1518-1535 8. General Social Care Council (2002) Code of practice for social care workers and code of practice for employers. London: General Social Care Council 9. Harwin, J., Owen, M., Locke, R. and Forrester, D., (2003) Making Care Orders Work: A Study of Care Plans and their implementation. London: The Stationery Office. 10. Holland, S.,
(2010) Child and Family Assessment in Social Work Practice, 2nd Ed. London: Sage Publications. 11. (assessed on 17.04.2012) 12. (assessed on 02.05.2012) 13. (assessed on 17.04.2012) 14. Jones, DPH., (2009) Assessment of parenting. In Jan Horwath (ed.), The Child’s World: The comprehensive guide to assessing children in need. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. 2nd Edition. 15. Llaird, S.D., (2010) Practical Social Work Law: Analysing Court Cases and Inquiries, Harlow: Pearson Education 16. Macdonald, G. and Williamson, E., (2002) Against the Odds: An Evaluation of Child and Family Support Services. London: National Children’s Bureau/ Joseph Rowntree Foundation. 17. Mitchell, W and Sloper, P., (2008) The Integrated Children’s System and disabled children. Child and Family Social Worker, 13 (3): 274-285 18. Preston- Shoot, M. (2003) A matter of records? Practice, 15(3): 31-50 19. Reder, P., Duncan, S. and Lucey, C., (2003) Studies in the Assessment of Parenting. London: Routledge. 20. Selwyn. J., Quinton, D., Sturgess, W and Baxter, C., (2006) Costs and Outcomes of Non- infant Adoptions. London: BAAF.

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