Ethic case analysis

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  • 1. CASE ANALYSIS: Grace Lubwama DPPD Candidate University of Southern California Youth Engagement & Public Ethics
  • 2. Background of Organization Context • Organization has been greatly criticized for its operations and internal policies • DCFS had a backlog of at least 3,200 investigations into initial complaints of abuse or neglect that had been open more than the maximum 30 days. • From 2008-2010 found that in only 31 percent of the cases social workers did the appropriate assessments of a home before placing a child there. • High turnover in its management- The department has had four directors in one year and also saw a high turnover in key management positions. • A general instability in management has hampered the department's ability to address its long- standing problems such as completing timely investigations and placement assessments. • The turnover has impeded the department's ability to develop and implement a strategic plan that would have provided cohesiveness to its various initiatives and communicated a clear vision to department staff. • Source; LA Times, dailybreeze.com 2012
  • 3. Case Summary •Organization: Los Angeles Department of Children and Family- District B. •Case -Tina is one of the youth that is transitioning from the foster care system in District B and her case was handled by Public Administrator Ms Brown who is a social worker. •Tina as an 8 year old was placed into the foster care because her mother was physically abusive. The years spent in foster care, she moved a total of 34 times to various group and foster homes. At age 18 she is ready to aged out of the system even though she is still in high school and not prepared to survive on her own. With no resources and no one to count on because parents are dead.
  • 4. Ethical Dilemma Ms. Brown as a Social worker (public administrator) is faces with an Ethical Dilemma of Terminating Tina as required by eligibility of the Department in compliance of the federal policy related to supporting the youth in the system after age 18 yrs. Ms. Brown is faced with a burden of conflicting values and divergent responsibilities as it pertains to the termination of knowing the what lies head of Tina. (Distinguishing abandonment from termination can be central to understanding what constitutes ethically responsible client care in difficult cases.) Competing Ethical Principles: •Autonomy •Accountability, •Justice •Beneficence •Public Interest. •Stability- For foster youth Ethical Concerns- Balancing: VALUE/MORAL(What is right for client ) + ORG/ Policy = CONFLICT
  • 5. Alternatives Alternative 1: •Not to terminate Tina from the LA County Department of Children and Family Service system; allow her to continue receiving support from the department until there is stability in her situation. Positives consequences: •Ms Brown will provide her client time to stabilize in her situation while still receiving services from the agency Negative consequences: •Ms. Brown as a public administrator will not be abiding with the federal requirements of terminating- violation of law •Loss of Job •Client will loss services eventually.
  • 6. Alternative Alternative 2: Terminate Tina from system but request to receive foster care benefits after age 18 under the AB 12 legislation ( extension of service request) And the participation conditions include that a youth must be: •Complete high school •Enrolled in college •Participate in a program designed to remove barriers to employment •Employed at least 80hrs a month •Unable to do one of the above requirements due to medical conditions. Positives consequences: •Ms Brown provides a resource for a client Negative consequences: •Client may not meet the requirements of AB12 – e.g not complete high school •There is an assumption that AB 12 fits all foster youth transitioning
  • 7. AB 12 State Policy • The federal Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 made extensive policy and program changes to improve the well being and‐ outcomes for children in foster care system including changes related to the extension of federal funding for foster care services for non- minors from ages 18 21‐ • if they meet certain participation criteria. Participation by counties is optional. And each county defines what the waiver negotiations mandate the funds be used for a specific purpose – “preventative services”.
  • 8. Alternative Alternative 3 Terminate Tina from the system but as a Social Worker (Public Administrator) assist with supporting her in the transition with her as virtual partner in the decision process. Positives consequences: •Ms. Brown meeting and abiding with program alignment with federal requirements by terminating Tina because of eligibility as it relates to transitional youth. •Enhanced and supportive system for Tina. She is able to receive multiple resources that support and meet her unique and individual circumstances. •Youth empowerment - Tina being a vital partner in the decision process is empowering •Increased positive links to the community for client and the organization as well. •Long term possible social and economic benefits for the community; i.e. reduced juvenile crime, homeless, substance abuse Negative consequences: •Over whelmed, under resources Public Administrators with the pressure to deal with a large case load may not have time to deal with situation and provide the support resources.
  • 9. Alternative Alternative 4 •Terminate Tina - because she is no longer eligible for services. Positives consequences: •Relieve federal funds to the next child that needs support •Ms. Brown meeting and abiding with program alignment with federal requirements as it relates to transitional youth. •Keeps her job Negative consequences: •Tina’s termination may cause further harm to her situation which may include mental health issues, substance abuse, homeless, unemployment, teen pregnancy, public assistance, not completion of high school (poor education achievement) and other expensive outcomes for young adults who are forced out of foster care at the age of 18. •Moral Confrontation for Ms Brown- Challenging the morality of policy
  • 10. Ethical Principles supporting Alternative Choose Alternative 3 Autonomy - Ms Brown have an obligation to deliberate and decide free from improper influence- She has the freedom to decided what to do that is best for her client and freedom to act on that decision. Beneficence- Ms Brown is required to act for the good or interest of another- acting on the benefit of citizenry broadly rather than personal or private interest. Justice- What is justice for this child? Looking at all the things she has gone through? All youth deserve to be treated fairly. Tina deserves the same opportunities and access like the rest of the young people despite her status.
  • 11. Ethical Principles supporting Alternative Public Interest – Ms Brown has to act to preserve and enhance the larger interests of the public- Looking at the long-term issues surrounding transitional youth. Accountability- Will Ms Brown be able to publically justify this decision with consequences? Ms Brown is accountable to client and organization. Stability-The conflict of children in foster care’s best interest and stability is not at heart a legal one but an ethical one. The best Alternative is one that chooses the best stable situation for the youth.
  • 12. Ethical Principles Value: Service Social workers’ primary goal is to help people in need and to address their social problems. Value: Social Justice Social workers pursue social change, particularly with and on behalf of vulnerable and oppressed individuals Value: Importance of Human Relationships Social workers recognize the central importance of human relationships. Value: Dignity and Worth of the Person Social workers respect the inherent dignity and worth of the person.
  • 13. Social Worker’s Ethical Responsibilities • Primary responsibility is to promote the well-being of clients. In general, clients’ interests are primary. • Respect & promote the right of clients to self-determination. • Assist clients in their efforts to identify & clarify their goals. ( may limit clients’ right to self­ determination when, in the social workers’ professional judgment, clients’ actions or potential actions pose a serious, foreseeable, and imminent risk to themselves or others.) • Terminate services to clients and professional relationships with them when such services and relationships are no longer required or no longer serve the clients’ needs or interests.
  • 14. “As the Ethical Climate of the Organization becomes stronger, the Organizational performance values will be strongly supported” (Menzel & Carson 1999)
  • 15. Organization Characteristics Encourage There is a clear outlined objective of the organisation which is to support and protect the safety of children. Ms Brown has the support of the organisation to make an ethical decision based on her role. County has a Structured Decision Making processes : • To provide SW with simple, objective, and reliable tools with which to make the best possible decisions for individual cases. • To provide managers with information for improved planning and resource allocation. The organisation will also support any collaborative arrangements with public, private and community partners to provide quality child welfare services. (e.g partnering with the faith community)
  • 16. Organization Characteristics Impeding Leadership turnover has impeded the department's ability to develop and implement a strategic plan that would have provided cohesiveness to its various initiatives and communicated a clear vision to department staff. Organization Structure-  Bureaucratic norms: follow orders Emphasis on efficient means instead of ends.
  • 17. Management Strategy for Change  Adopt practices in their agencies that help employees at all levels engage in ethical decision making.  Encourage an ethical work environment.  Provide continues formal of ethics training.  Encourage participatory decision making and trust building between the clients/youth and social worker, and also trust between the social workers and their managers/org.  Emphasize within the management strategy on the idea that public administrators are professional citizens or citizen administrators; they are fiduciaries who are employed by the citizenry to work on their behalf – citizen’s interests should be primary.