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Title:An exploration of family-centered, strengths-based social work practice in early intervention programs
Author(s):Allen, Robin W.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Cowger, Charles D.
Department / Program:Social Work
Discipline:Social Work
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Social Work
Education, Special
Abstract:This interpretive interactionism study explored the practice of twelve social workers employed in early intervention programs for the families of children with special needs. In particular, this study examined the nature of social work practice given the mandate from Part H of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1991 (IDEA) that the role of families in early intervention programs is to be strengthened. Using in-depth interviews and content analysis, the researcher collected descriptions of the process of working with families. Both social workers and their directors/administrators were interviewed to develop an understanding of how social workers make meaning of their practice with families, and to explore the environmental context in which the social workers practice. In addition, the educational and training background of the social workers and their directors was examined.
The programs that were included in the study reported that a family-centered philosophy guides their service delivery model. This study examined how each of these programs defines and implements their version of family-centered practice. Strengthening the role of families in early intervention programs through the implementation of a family-centered philosophy is described as a process where programs are at different stages. The implementation of Part H of IDEA has caused many changes in the programs such as increased staff size, introduction of new disciplines and a team-based service delivery model, and increased bureaucracy. Programs also reported chronic problems of staff shortages and lack of resources. Next, the specific roles and responsibilities of the social workers are described as well as descriptive accounts provided of how they help families. The social workers reported the way that they help families the most is by empathic listening.
The study points to a number of practice and policy implications: First, the importance of adequate supervision and emotional support for social workers; Second, the need for a clearer understanding of what family-centered, strengths-based practice means; and, the importance of preparing early intervention professionals in proactive approaches to cost containment strategies that are dramatically changing the way in which social welfare services are being delivered.
Issue Date:1996
Rights Information:Copyright 1996 Allen, Robin W.
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9712189
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9712189

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