Welcome to our first “Cases from the Field” discussion! “Cases from the Field” is your opportunity to share a case from your fieldwork that relates to and reflects the topics of each module.
For this module, follow the instructions and prompts and use the case of Mary S. that is provided.
In future modules, you will provide a case from your own fieldwork experiences, following the instructions in each subsequent module.
The Case of Mary S. and her Client
Mary S. is a social worker who has been employed by Child Protective Services agency for six months. She underwent extensive training, was first accompanied on site visits by her supervisor, and satisfied all background checks before she was allowed to make site visits on her own. She demonstrated awareness regarding the importance of conducting professional assessments as well as cultural sensitivity to each of the clients she visited. Mary is a single mother who has two children of her own, both of whom are school age. She had her children in daycare for the first four years of each of their lives and much of her sensitivity to the issues of possible child neglect and abuse is related to the issues she observed in families whose children were in the daycare with her own children. While she was not a mandated reporter at the time, she did make the supervisors at the daycare center aware of some of the possible issues that came to her attention. Mary is a committed and dedicated social worker who wants the best for her clients. She is a moral and ethical person in her own life and brings her values to her professional conduct.
One of Mary S’s clients, Mr. and Mrs. R. had been referred to the agency by their daughter’s school due to suspicion of possible child neglect and/or abuse. Their daughter, B., aged 10, had an unusual amount of absences and was observed to wear only turtleneck tops and long sleeves to school. This was the second observation of this kind and the school was required by law to investigate this as a potential case for CPS.
Mary S. arranged for a home visit where she planned to conduct a full assessment of the couple, the home, and the potential issue of child neglect and/or abuse. When she arrived, the home was neat and clean and Mary was satisfied with the physical surroundings. She began the interview by trying to get to know the couple and putting them at ease. She discovered that Mr. and Mrs. R. were immigrants from the same Caribbean country as Mary S. and grew up in the neighboring community. They had had difficulty obtaining green cards and did not want anything to jeopardize their legal status. They exchanged pleasantries and some memories of their shared past; they immediately developed a rapport and the R’s felt safe and comfortable with Mary S. She was now ready to administer the assessment.
Mary S. inquired about their daughter’s absences and they informed her that since they were new to the country, they were unaware of the laws that required them to send their child to school regularly, which was seemed like a reasonable explanation to Mary. They felt that their daughter was having some trouble acclimating to the new environment and that she needed some time at home to feel nurtured and supported. This was good enough for Mary S. She informed them of the laws that governed their child’s education and of her role at CPS and asked them if they would like a social worker to visit them again. They replied that it was not necessary; they understood all that she had told them.
When she returned to her office and reported on her findings, her supervisor was angry with her for not exploring the situation more fully and for not completing the entire assessment form. Had she read the file completely, she would have known that the couple had emigrated two years ago and that this was not the first time the school was aware of some irregularities with Mr. and Mrs. R. Mary S. felt diminished and tried to explain that, due to their cultural similarities, she understood the family and believed they were sincere. She believed she was demonstrating cultural competence and sensitivity to their immigration status.
1. Using the case of Mary S., identify and describe the value conflict between Mary S. and her supervisor, in one to three paragraphs.
2. Using the NASW Code of Ethics, identify Mary S.’s values and the values of her supervisor. Identify any personal values that may also be present. You do not have to describe how you would resolve this conflict.
3. Your final short paragraph will be to highlight any misjudgments that Mary S. may have encountered where she mistook values for knowledge or knowledge for values.