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Child neglect situations : a comparative case analysis of two neglect cases, from Vancouver agencies, 1955 Matison, Sonja Constance

Abstract

Casework with neglectful parents has particular problems, influenced by the special responsibility and function of the protection agency. All casework is concerned with bringing the client's personality into adjustment with his environment; in the neglect situation the agency has the added responsibility of making the decision regarding a child's removal from his home. Superficially, these two responsibilities may seem incompatible: on one hand, the worker uses acceptance and understanding to treat the client; on the other hand he may have to use authority to render the necessary services. Workers have difficulty in fusing the two responsibilities into a meaningful casework process. Two cases were used in this study; one is an example of emotional rejection, the other an illustration of both emotional and physical neglect. The cases were presented to emphasise the worker's use of diagnostic information in giving casework help to the clients. The work done was compared with some concepts of social work that are usually considered essential for productive casework. The elements of social work philosophy and practice generally recognized as indispensible to effective casework were often absent in both cases. There was little practical use of the concepts that each individual has worth, potential and ability to change. Moreover, the use of relationship as a helping tool was hindered because of the misuse of authority; it was either over-used or under-used, and in either case was not helpful to the client. Vitally important to any casework progress, but seldom apparent in either case, was a sound treatment plan. Many of the casework difficulties were centred in the fact that the workers were not sure of their function, of the use of authority, and perhaps of their ability to help. It would appear that if the worker has a genuine belief in the basic principles of casework (which must be carried out in relationship with the client), a sound knowledge of human behaviour, and a belief in his own ability to help, many of the foregoing casework difficulties could be remedied.

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