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Title:It's No Bed of Roses: Working in Child Welfare
Author(s):McMahon, Anthony Patrick
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Gullerud, Ernest N.
Department / Program:Social Work
Discipline:Social Work
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Social Work
Sociology, Individual and Family Studies
Sociology, Public and Social Welfare
Abstract:This study explored the working lives of public agency child welfare workers in an inner city office in Chicago, Illinois. Eight workers at "City Office" gave access to their understanding of child welfare and to their practice to answer the question, "How do child welfare workers understand and live the experience of doing child welfare work?" Those workers with Native American clients in their case loads were chosen for this study. Over a period of 16 months, the study utilized ethnographic research methods such as participant observation, interviewing, and document analysis to understand and interpret the lived experience of the child welfare workers.
This research found that the workers placed themselves within current child welfare practice with its emphasis on the rescue and protection of neglected and abused children. Yet, their neat identification with child welfare history and ideology unravelled when they spoke about the counter productive effects of their practice on many of the children they were protecting. Furthermore, they worked in stressful conditions which frustrated and circumvented their child protection mission. Among the stressful working conditions were large and ever increasing case loads, the bureaucratic homogenization of individual clients into the generic "client," antagonistic courts, and dangerous neighborhoods. In this type of child welfare practice where all clients went through the same bureaucratic checklists, Native American clients were made invisible. The often counterproductive effect of child protection on children and families and the stress associated with their work made working in child welfare, they said, "no bed of roses."
This research argues that child welfare practice must address the misdirected focus of current services. New foci would include alleviating the bureaucratic stress of child welfare practice, creating work contexts that value the development of helping relationships between workers and clients, and developing practice that values the strengths of clients' class, ethnic, and racial backgrounds.
Issue Date:1993
Description:291 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1993.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI9314915
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-17
Date Deposited:1993

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