Developmental social work and developmental social welfare are concepts that have featured prominently on the global scene. Developmental social work is an approach that emphasizes on the roles of professional practice and social investment. It is these social investments that fulfill the material needs of the clients of social work. Additionally, the social investments facilitate the integration of social workers in to the economic and social life of the community. Theorists believe that developmental social workers perceive the strengths and capabilities of their clients to be amplified by the public services and resources (Midgley & Conley, 2010).
In their view, it is the only way that those who are beneficiaries of the developmental social work profession can lead fulfilling and productive lives. It is the view of many scholars that contrary to popular opinion, developmental social work is not a preserve for micro-practice interventions and community organization. As a matter of fact, developmental ideas of social work can be implemented in different conventional forums of social work practice up to and including mental health, child welfare, social assistance, aging and correctional social work. On the other hand, developmental social welfare denotes the myriad of organized activities that aim at alleviating, preventing and contributing to the solutions of perceived and recognized societal problems (Timms & Timms, 2013).
Developmental social welfare aims to capacity build groups, families, individuals and communities so that they are able to cope with the changing conditions that are brought about by social problems. Although the tow concepts are distinct in their own way, they are often thought about in the same breadth. This paper will conceptualize developmental social work and developmental social welfare as guided by literature and perspectives from different scholars. This paper will, using a media article, illustrate principles and values of social work as exemplified in the understanding gained from a review of literature and perspectives by scholars.
Developmental Social Work and Developmental Social Welfare
As espoused earlier, professional social workers deal with social problems in different dimensions. Of particular concern to them is the cause of these social problems, protracted solutions to address the social problems and the human impact that the social problems have on the society. Social workers do not work amongst themselves or in a vacuum. On the contrary, they work groups of people, families, organizations, individuals and even communities (Zastrow, 2010).
This is in their capacity as members of a profession that is among other things committed to the attainment and safeguarding of human rights and social justice. It has been argued that social workers cannot define what entails social justice. This is true to the extent that they work under the confines and governance of other prevailing laws, for instance the laws of the land as enshrined in a constitution. However, social workers work to ensure that the provisions of different constitutional dispensations are not only implemented, but also safeguarded. They protect the vulnerable in the community from exploitation and oppression by the powerful. A good example of this is through the application child rights (Midgley & Conley, 2010).
Most constitutions provide certain rights to the children. Some of these rights include the right to education, freedom from forced labor and freedom from child abuse. Social workers ensure that children are not denied these rights, either by their parents or members of the community. However, it is not to be misconstrued that the scope of their work is in the same breadth as that of law enforcement. While social workers can recommend criminal investigations on a matter of concern, it is to be understood that core of their work involves proactive measures as opposed to reactive measure. More precisely, a social worker would be more concerned with ensuring that social problems are prevented instead of endeavoring to arrest them after the fact (Zastrow, 2010).
In this regard, social workers approach their work by considering the whole individual. In so doing, they not only pay attention to the person, but also their spiritual subsystems, psychological health, cultural backgrounds, sociological environment and familial ties as they deal with a situation. This is very important to the approach of social work. The behavior of an individual is influenced by many factors. Some of these factors are within the individual while others are without and can be found in the surrounding environment (Midgley & Conley, 2010). In this instance, environment is used wholly to encompass both the physical and spiritual environment. It is through such a consideration that social workers are able to unearth and deal with the underlying issues to a certain social problem. For instance, in a case where there is abject alcoholism in a certain community, law enforcement officers would swoop in, seize the entire illicit brew, arrest the perpetrators and prosecute them.
A social work would consider this a temporary solution to a recurring problem. In her approach, a social worker would be concerned with the reasons why the community members engage in drinking illicit brew. Additionally, a social worker would consider the impact that this vice has had on the community members. Her approach would be inclusive in that she would seek the input of the community members. This would help figure out the underlying issues causing the proliferation of the illicit brews. A social worker would also consider rehabilitative measure to mitigate the impact of illicit brew on the community members. In considering potential outcomes, her means would most likely bear sustainable results compared to that of the law enforcement agencies. This is not a scathing attack on any law enforcement agency or a factual presentation of their approach to social problems.
Professionals in social work have a commitment towards improvement of the quality of life that people lead, social justice and capacity building in order to achieve self actualization for individuals, families, groups and the community at large. As a principle of social work, professionals are required to ensure the installation of equal social structures. This is to imply that their work in the community or other forums is to ensure the building of equity and equality in their engagements. The main tasks of social workers include case management counseling, medical social work, and analysis of social policies, advocacy, and management of human services, teaching and research in social science (Zastrow, 2010).
The collaboration between social workers and other professionals in different fields is very apparent. Social works work in cooperation with mental health specialists, psychotherapists, psychiatrists, medical professionals, counselors and psychologists. This is a healthy cooperation where their skills and expertise are integrated through referrals and follow ups. The effect of social works transcends different levels in the society. While the discussion above has shown social work at the community level, it is not to be misconstrued that this is the only level at which social workers operate (Zastrow, 2010).
Social workers can also be found at the highest levels of government influencing policy formulation process. Their work at his level is highly dependent on the input of social scientists who engage in academic research. The findings of such projects help influence the policy formulation process by reporting on the situation on the ground. The emphasis here is that social works transcends all levels of the society and that its effect is felt both at the national and individual level.
Discussion of a media article
The article was published in the Chicago Tribune on the 30th of May, 2013. It details the efforts of a social worker in fighting crime in cooperation with the Chicago Police Department.
The targeted group in this media article is rather general. The article shares the success of social work with a general audience in a bid to enlighten the readers of the possibilities and the scope of social work. While the social work does not attribute all the success to her work, her sentiments touch on the importance of social work in finding solutions to social problems. Crime is a social problem in many societies. The collaboration between the police department and the social worker shows the interdependence of various societal institutions in the achievement of common goals.
Levels in Intervention
The social worker exemplifies different levels of intervention during her work and her stay in the apartment complex. The most apparent level of intervention is counseling. She intimates that her neighbors have come to her on different occasions with different problems. In her own words, she claims that self awareness achieved through counseling has helped to develop working solutions. Additionally, capacity building is very apparent as a level of intervention in the article. Crime is as a result of different factors in the environment. The social worker adds that through capacity building, disenfranchised youth in the neighborhood were able to find meaningful livelihoods and shun the life of crime, probably a contributing factor in the decreased crime rates.
Principles and values of social work
Social work is governed by a set of principles and values. The said principles and values offer a framework through which the decisions and practice of professional social workers is evaluated. The following are the principle and values that govern social work.
- The client reserves the right to self determination: as has been discussed above, social worker help in the capacity building and problems resolution at the community level in addition to other forums. In doing so, it is important for the social worker to understand that while she can only guide a client, it is their right to determine how they implement solutions. This implies that a social worker cannot force her ideals on a client irrespective of her conviction. They have to allow the client to exercise their right of self-determination (Department of Social Development, n. d)
- Persons and environment context: this is in recognition of the fact that social problems do not occur in a vacuum. In acknowledging this, the social worker is required to consider environmental influences on not only the social problem, but also the solutions to the said problem. During case management, the social worker cannot purport to alter the environment for the client. He can only enlighten the client and go as far as suggesting possible interventions in order to create an enabling environment (Zastrow, 2010).
- Empowerment: This principle is in line with the development of sustainability in the social work. The principle recognizes the fact that in order to sustain social development, workers have to build the capacity of the community members. This is achieved chiefly by ensuring that the communities are involved in social work, right from inception as opposed to having solutions to social problems tailor made for them (Department of Welfare, 1997)
- Social justice/social change: this principle reiterates the need for achievement of results through social work. Social workers are seen a change agents in the community. It is expected that their efforts should result in a change in the trends in the community. This is through the achievement of social justice. It is through such achievements that social work is strengthened in the society.
- Social control: this principle effective adds the role of control into the scope of social work. As espoused earlier, social workers protect those who are vulnerable in the community from exploitation by safeguarding their rights. This means that social work involves the protection of social institutions and the rights that they guarantee (Zastrow, 2010).
Developmental social work and developmental social welfare are two principals that are coined to ensure the well being of a society in a holistic manner. Social work is a watchdog of the welfare and general wellbeing of people in a community. If managed well, it can contribute to meaningful development in the community and at the national level. This is through enabling individuals to maximize their potential through support, advocacy and capacity building. Social work takes many dimensions. However, its principles are similar across the board and through its application; the society is a better place to live. Community members are more empowered to pursue their abilities, and the society has an institution from which to draw synchrony. The potential for social work is not entirely harnessed in all communities as evidenced by recurring social problems. It is incumbent for governmental agencies to strengthen these systems within the community, in recognition of the general good that they inspire. Citizens are also tasked with the duty of ensuring that social systems installed for the general good are maintained and utilized. In addition to this, it is important for us as citizens to apply that which we learn through empowerment for the sound development of the community in order to spur sustainable development as is enshrined in the ideals of developmental social work and developmental social welfare.
Midgley, J., & Conley, A. (2010). Social work and social development: Theories and skills for developmental social work. New York: Oxford University Press.
Timms, N. & Timms, R. (2013). Dictionary of Social Welfare. New York. Routledge.
Zastrow, C. (2010). Introduction to social work and social welfare: Empowering people. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.