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  • Subject Name : Social Work

Government Child and Protection Department

Part One: Initial Assessment

  1. Family description:

The family that this report is addressed to consists of four members; 29-years old Carla, her partner, 27-years old Tom and two young siblings Marnie and Hope aged 11 and 6 years respectively. The mother, Carla had been admitted in a hospital due to drug-use. Now released, the mother is receiving outpatient care and attending programs regularly. Meanwhile, the two daughters have been in temporary foster care under the care of Janine and Max, aged 52 and 53 years respectively. The mother meets her two children consistently under the supervision of the social worker.

  1. Conceptualization of the family’s situation:

Over the course of three months, the family’s situation has been properly assessed in order to understand the best approach that can be adopted for this particular family. The assessment has led to various insights into the family situation. Firstly, the mother is affectionate towards her children. At no point did the mother seem abusive nor did the children seem scared of her. A visible connection was witnessed in between the mother and the children. At the same time, the partner Tom is not very emotionally attached to the children. Secondly, it has been brought to notice that the mother continues to battle her addiction due to the drug-use of her partner Tom. As explained by the Social Learning theory, the mother’s observation of her partner indulging in addictive substances led to the development of her own addiction (Horvath et. al., 2020). Further, the mother worries that a relapse might take place. It has also been brought to notice that Tom is not receiving any treatment for his drug-use. Thirdly, the elder sibling Marnie has shown signs of withdrawal from her school, her peers and foster-parents. As stated by the Attachment Theory, a child-mother relationship is very essential and such separations can cause insecure attachments and other psychological issues for a child (Howard et. al., 2011). Marnie is visibly less-interactive with individuals other than her sister and is also seen having heavy emotional responses while meeting her mother. This can also be attributed to Separation Anxiety that Marnie is facing (SCH, 2020). It has also been witnessed that Marnie shows lower stress and anxiety levels when she is with her real mother (McWey et. al., 2010). At the same time, the younger sibling is not showing any signs of withdrawal and Separation Anxiety. This however, cannot be attributed as an absence of depression as different children have different ways of showing it (McWey et. al., 2010). Resilience (flexibility when moving in between caretakers (Keddell, 2016)) shown by Hope should not necessarily be interpreted as positive or negative without further assessment.

  • Stated and perceived needs:

From the three months observation period, it is obvious that Tom also needs to go through various programs and give-up the use of drugs entirely. The relations in between the children and Tom need to be better assessed and subsequently actions need to be taken. Carla’s hesitancy to speak up in front of Tom points at limited communication and understanding in between the two. Couples therapy or family therapy might be needed by Carla and Tom. The sibling Marnie and Hope might also need to undergo therapy in order to avoid any stress or psychological issues. The family bond needs to be improved along with nullifying any chances of relapse.

Part Two: Plan to Work with The Family

  1. Goals:

After careful assessment, the following goals have been set for the family:

  • Reduction of drug use by both adults by a 100%.
  • Improve the communication between the partners and resolve any issues that might be present.
  • Reunifying the family within the next 6 months if the partners show consistent significant improvement.
  • Strengthening the family ties (Build on the protective factors- strengths that get a family through tough times (CWIG, 2016))
  • Improve the mental health and emotional responses of the children.
  1. Plan of Action:

This plan of action will be followed for the next 6 months and that will be followed by a final assessment of the situations at that point in time. The plan of action is as follows:

  • The desired outcome of this Family Plan is the reunification of the family. The assessment of this family has shown a deep connection between the mother and children. It has been observed that the best call for the children will be their reunification with their mother, provided the mother has strictly shown no signs or evidence of drug use.
  • The male partner Tom will effectively have to give up any forms of drug-use. Tom is expected to also undergo various drug-rehabilitation programs that will be decided upon after a preliminary test. These programs may or may not coincide with the ones Carla is currently attending. A proper drug rehabilitation program will be set up for Tom depending on his current drug use.
  • Meanwhile, both the adults are expected to undergo a Parenting Intervention. Despite of a diminished drug-use, both parties are expected to undergo increasing psychological withdrawal symptoms including cravings and intolerance (Suchman et. al., 2006). The parenting program will follow the Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (STEP) Program in order to improve the couple’s parenting techniques and improve their understanding about child growth and development (Suchman et. al., 2006). The sessions of this intervention will be conducted once or twice a week depending on the requirements of the couple as assessed by the practitioners.
  • Since the mother Carla has shown no signs of emotional detachment or problems in emotional regulation related to her children, at the moment no Emotional Regulation Intervention is necessary, and thus the mother is not required to attend an Emotional Regulation Intervention. However, if at any point such clues of emotional distress are observed in the mother, the ERI will be initiated immediately and will have to be attended consistently by the mother.
  • The couple, along with the Parenting Intervention, will also have to attend a Couple Counseling sessions every week. This Couple Counseling will be initiated as an attempt to improve the communication in between Carla and Tom and ultimately help them be better parents. The Couple Counseling will be an effective medium for the couple to discuss their problems and communicate in a safe environment (Uhrlass, 2017). Couples therapy can help partners understand each other’s emotional needs and inner values that will ultimately help them be better parents and provide a safe environment to the children (Uhrlass, 2017).
  • Once a month, the entire family consisting of Carla, Tom, Marnie and Hope will be attending a family therapy session that will also be supervised by the social worker. The Experiential Family Therapy will be utilized for this particular family. The Experiential Family Therapy is essentially a Family-Professional collaborative model where the two parties collaborate in order to foster family empowerment (An & Palisano, 2013). In Experiential Family Therapy, the family members will get a chance to share their thoughts and thus develop insights into their family relationships (Trotter, 2013). The therapist will help the family to communicate better with the other members, analyze their feelings and develop a better self-esteem (Trotter, 3013). These sessions will be supervised by the social worker where he/she will be able to observe their behavior as a family and further assess the family’s situation and growth.
  • Choice of intervention and justification:

The method of Parenting Intervention, Couple counseling and family therapy session will be utilized for this particular family. After six months of these sessions, it is desired that the family can be reunited. These methods were chosen after careful analysis of the current situations of the children and the couple. It is also important to note that along with these sessions that parents are also required to attend their regular drug-rehabilitation programs and are also permitted to visit the children once a week under the supervision of the social worker.

The methods of Parenting Intervention and Couples Counseling were chosen in order to shape Carla and Tom into a better set of parents. This will help them understand each other as individuals and offer each other emotional support through this journey. This will also strengthen their parenting techniques and improve their knowledge about the various needs children have. These programs will especially improve Tom’s contributions to the family as a parent. Emotional Interventions were not included in this family plan as Carla has shown no signs of aggression or emotional instability. However, if their need is felt the Emotional Intervention will be immediately initiated for Carla.

Along with that, the Family Therapy session that will utilize the family-professional collaboration will also be scheduled once in a month. These sessions will be focused on improving the communication and understanding within the family members. Along with this, this will also help give insights into the emotional state of the children which will help the social worker further understand the situation. At the moment, no individual therapy is being prescribed to both the children and they only are required to attend the family therapy.

Part Three: Reflective Essay

When I was first assigned this case, I did not expect it to turn out this way. When a person usually gets assigned a case of drug-addicted parents, in most cases the parents fail to re-gain custody of their children. I’ve seen addiction get the better of people, and thankfully, that was not the case with this family.

Carla has two beautiful children who she cares about a lot. The children, too, love their mother and are always very happy to see her. I’ve never quiet seen a drug-addicted parent like Carla, so patient and soft, makes me almost forget that she’s going through an internal struggle. Tom, on the other hand seems distant to me. I haven’t seen Tom visit the kids as much and have barely had a chance to properly observe his behavior. In spite of that, on my first meeting with the family I knew that I will try my best to make their family work as a whole. I believe in second chances, and I knew from the start that Carla deserves a second chance at motherhood more than anyone else.

When I narrated the entire 6 months plan to Carla and Tom, they were both visibly happy and relieved that they hadn’t lost custody over the kids. Carla was almost in tears, and I understand that because of all the hard-work she has to put in to stay clean. Tom was happy too, but I got the sense that he was happier for Carla than he was about the possibility of getting the kids back. Once we got into the details of the plan, Carla and Tom became a little more tense. I think it was because they realized that it in an elaborate plan which will require endurance on their ends. Contrary to what I had expected, Tom was not unhappy about the drug rehabilitation sessions he’d have to attend. Tom looked comfortable with all the conditions, and said that he’d been looking for a way out of the drug world and that he believed this was his chance to be a better parent, and a better person. This reply has completely shocked me. From what Carla had told me Tom was the one who started the drug use and later got Carla involved in them; and I didn’t expect him to take the news so well. But again, it looked like he wanted to be a better person for Carla.

They spoke to me at length about how they have been battling addiction for a long time and just wanted to start over again. Tom regarded Carla’s hospitalization as his life changing moment. Tom also expressed that he had not stopped consuming them till date, and knew that that was wrong on his part. Carla was visibly touched by this revelation.

I think Carla and Tom can make this work; provided they support each other and their children through this tough phase. I, too, will try my best to be as supportive as possible for Hope’s and Marnie’s sake.

References for Marnie and Hope Case Study

An, M., & Palisano, R. J. (2013). Family–professional collaboration in pediatric rehabilitation: a practice model. Disability and Rehabilitation, 36(5), 434–440.

Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2016). Reunification: Bringing your children home from foster care. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau.

Hovrath, T., Mishra, K., Epner, A., & Cooper, G. M. (2020). SOCIAL LEARNING THEORY OF ADDICTION AND RECOVERY IMPLICATIONS. Retrieved from https://www.gulfbend.org/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=48347&cn=1408

Howard, K., Martin, A., Berlin, L. J., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2011). Early mother–child separation, parenting, and child well-being in Early Head Start families. Attachment & Human Development, 13(1), 5–26.

Keddell, E. (2016). Interpreting children’s best interests: Needs, attachment and decision-making. Journal of Social Work, 17(3), 324–342.

McWey, L. M., Acock, A., & Porter, B. E. (2010). The impact of continued contact with biological parents upon the mental health of children in foster care. Children and Youth Services Review, 32(10), 1338–1345.

SCH. (2020). Separation Anxiety Disorder in Children. Retrieved from https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=separation-anxiety-disorder-90-P02582

Suchman, N., Pajulo, M., DeCoste, C., & Mayes, L. (2006). Parenting Interventions for Drug-Dependent Mothers and Their Young Children: The Case for an Attachment-Based Approach*. Family Relations, 55(2), 211–226.

Trotter, C. (2013). Collaborative Family Work: A practical guide to working with families in the human services (1st ed.). Crows Nest, Australia: Allen & Unwin.

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