Generalist Practice BP11: THE FINAL BLOG

GP2 Final Blog Post

 

What are three things you LEARNED from this course and what is one thing you will DO as follow up?

 

I have learned a lot from Generalist Practice that I will use in my social work career. One thing that I have learned are ice breaker activities. I’ve already started using these in small groups. Although small, these things have been integral in building relationships between the girls and me as well as within the girls’ friendships themselves.

I’ve learned about census tracts and how to read census data to learn about the population I am serving. It would never have occurred to me to use this tool until I learned about it in class. It gives me a better idea of who I am serving, what their assets and unique needs are, and how to formulate an effective intervention.

I’ve learned about the framework of a smart community, and how some communities use their resources and human capital to better themselves in the face of “wicked problems”. I’ve reflected on my own community and the other places I have lived. I’ve also considered my place in my community and what I do to build up the community I live in.

One thing I will do as follow-up is keep in touch with my cohorts who have similar interventions within their communities. I found it interesting that, during census tract presentations, many interventions that were formulated were school based. Those interventions were all unique and can be used to benefit lots of communities. I will use all of these interventions to inform my practice going forward, should I choose to stay in a school setting.

 

BP11: Child welfare, or “Making your kid clean his room doesn’t violate child labor laws, does it?”

Explain 2 historical policies pertaining to child welfare and 2 current (or recent) aspects of child welfare not relating to out-of-home placement (aka “child welfare” as a part of DHS). 

I don’t know about you, but I’m stuffed with food and love from Easter festivities. We do it up right at my house. Ham, mashed potatoes, asparagus, deviled eggs, homemade bread, and pavlova for dessert.

Here’s that recipe if you’re interested:

http://www.marthastewart.com/332803/pavlova

Oy, child welfare is dicey. My practicum placement is in a public school, and I get to see the good, the bad, and the ugly of child welfare, including the icky DHS stuff. But, here we go…

I LOVE that the history of child welfare in this country begins with a dude named Charles Loring Brace who moved poor and orphaned street kids from crappy urban settings into farm families in the Midwest. While this tactic split up families, it got kids who were in terrible conditions into better ones, hanging out with cows and corn in Wisconsin and such. I’m a bit of a country mouse anyway.

Let’s talk about Etta Wheeler for a minute. When she found out about the abuse that was being exacted upon a 9-year old indentured child (read: slave), she went to the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to find out what could be done. You read that right. Animals. There was nothing to protect children yet. Because of her work to right this wrong, the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children was created. Now, a lot of folks think that, during her work, she was advocating for this child as if she were an animal, but that is not the case. She was acting as an advocate of an abused child.

Another historical issue that came up was the issue of child labor. There were a lot of destitute families at the turn of the 20th Century and going into the Great Depression. Families did what they thought was best and put their kids to work to make ends meet. Kids worked in coal mines, which isn’t good for ANYONE, but there were zero protections for them or for women. In 1916 the Child Labor Act was put in place to prohibit the interstate transportation of goods that were made by children. In 1918, the Child Labor Act was ruled unconstitutional (uh oh) and most other attempts to protect women and children were thwarted until 1935 with the Social Security Act. This is crazy to me. My grandfather was born in 1915 (he passed away almost 9 years ago), and was the youngest of 9 children. Any of them could have worked as children without any sort of protections in place. Scary.

There are many federal grants that are helping parents with child care these days. The primary programs are the federal dependent care tax credit, the child care tax credit, the Child Care and Development Block Grant, and Title XX. These programs were designed to assist low-income families with childcare so they can work. As a working mom, I can attest to the fact that childcare is EXPENSIVE. Unfortunately, I always made too much money to qualify for these services.

Currently, my biggest concern is for children’s education. I consider this a child welfare issue because every child has the right to a good education. Our public school system is being threatened as well as all the things that fall under the umbrella of public school. Free and reduced lunch programs for children are being rethought. I work in a place where 92% of children are on free or reduced lunch. 92%! If those protections were to change, what would that mean for those kids? Our Secretary of Education does not believe that all schools who receive federal funding, whether public, charter, or private, should be equally accountable to the US government (read: school voucher program). In layperson’s terms: if a parent doesn’t want to send their kid to public school, they can go to private school and get vouchers from the government to subsidize some of the cost. But, those schools receiving those funds would NOT be held to the same standards at the public schools.

…so, how many more days do we have til summer? Because I’m craving a margarita and a pool deck, STAT.

Generalist Practice Blog Post 10: A job for teens with developmental disabilities

Explain the importance of evaluation as a concept.

In the Krajewski et al., please summarize the findings of the program as reflected in the program evaluation.

Good Tuesday Morning! This topic is one that is near and dear to my heart, as I worked with adults with developmental disabilities in a day program and supported employment program in Longmont, Colorado. Even though these individuals were younger than the people with whom I worked, it is apparent (and something that I knew long before reading the article) that, had the caregivers of the people with whom I’d worked received training at a young age to enter the workforce, many more of them would have been equipped to take a job. And the job could have been potentially more challenging and rewarding than the jobs that many of them had.

Evaluation as a concept is important because it give insight into the usefulness and effectiveness of programs, resources, surveys, etc. Without evaluation, we would never know if a program like the one described in the article as well as the program in which I worked was beneficial or simply a waste of time. Evaluation saves organizations money in the long-term. An organization can determine if a program is working and pull out if it is not. Evaluation finds strengths and weaknesses in a program. A smart organization or community knows how to capitalize on those strengths and tap into the appropriate resources to shore up the weaknesses.

I love that this program was based in the performing arts, my other life path. I’ve had the privilege of directing a group of adults with developmental disabilities in a music and theatre performance in Boulder, Colorado. We worked on it for weeks, and the pride that they took in the finished product literally brought tears to my eyes. A study like the topic of this post shows how something like that production could help increase job and life skills for these people.

According to the study, 75% of the students who participated in the program exceeded expectations (pp. 172) of the program. Some points of intervention that were discovered were areas like ‘staying in assigned areas’. The results also determined that the program is too short (6 weeks) to make big structural adjustments, so in the future the program designers can extend the length of the program to increase those benefits. There were six students who could not handle the program and were dismissed because of poor behavior choices.

There were challenges to the program, primarily the sheer volume of tasks to be completed. Overall, this program appeared to be highly effective. It gave an outlet to those who tend to be marginalized. These kids were not only developmentally disabled but were also from low-income families. The program proved to be empowering for these youth as they were able to see this project through to the end.

Imagine if you were in the same situation? How proud do we feel when we take on what seems to be a monumental task, and then we are able to see its success? It feels pretty good.

Krajewski, E. R., Wiencek, P., Brady, S., Trapp, E., Rice Jr., P. (2010). Teaching employable skills to special education youth: An empowerment approach. International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, 5(1), 167-176.