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Jimmy is 5 y/o, Abigail is nearly 2 y/o and Jai is 6 months old. They live with their parents, Glenda and Adam, in small rural l community in NSW. Glenda experienced difficulties when Jimmy was a baby so the family moved to this town from Sydney when Glenda was pregnant with Abigail. Adam had extended family in the area and he thought that close proximity to them would provide Glenda and the children with some extra support. Not long after arriving, Adam was offered a job at the local abattoir, but lost it when it closed down a year ago.
Jai came along and Glenda spent about a week in the hospital after the birth. Because of losing his job, Adam had been drinking a lot and smoking weed; he smoked about ten joints a day and Glenda was an occasional user. Due to this, Adam and Glenda became estranged from Adam's extended family.
Soon after Jai's birth, the maternity staff noticed that he was not gaining any weight and that Glenda did not seem to understand why this was a concern. Glenda had also explained to the nurse that Adam had become 'angry' since losing his job and that she found it difficult to deal with this. A report was made to FACS, who conducted an assessment. The matter was deemed low risk because Glenda had agreed to engage with the local early intervention services. The case was closed.
Things were very difficult financially for Adam and Glenda. They often had no money and this stress seemed to increase the tension between them. At times the family missed meals, Abigail and Jimmy were badly behaved and Jai, who was not fed sometimes, would cry a lot. Glenda had reached out to the local services for help and had contacted FACS a few times seeking assistance. She had been given food vouchers from the local Salvos shop, supermarket vouchers and assistance with some bills. Occasionally, Adam and Glenda would attend the FACS office together and would be seen verbally abusing one another. Further to this, several mandatory reports had been made to the FACS Helpline about the children from the community health nurses in relation to concerns about Abigail and Jai's health and hygiene.
One night in late July 2016, Adam and Glenda had a big argument. Both had been drinking alcohol and smoking cannabis. During the argument, Adam began to throw plates and other kitchen equipment in the kitchen/dining room. Jai was in the room in his baby capsule and a splinter of glass hit his face and caused a cut and a bruise. The noise woke Jimmy and Abigail up and they screamed. A neighbour, hearing this, called the police.
The police arrived about 30 minutes later because they were on another call when the neighbour called. As they arrived at the house, they found Jimmy standing at the front door not able to get in because the door was shut. It was a very cold night in the New England with temperatures reaching minus 3 degrees, but Jimmy only had a T-shirt on and nothing on his feet. The police entered the house. It was very messy and there was no heating inside. Abigail was sitting on the kitchen floor playing with some broken pieces of kitchenware and Jai was in his cot screaming. His nappy had not been changed for some time and the room smelt of stale urine.
Glenda and the children were taken to the local hospital. The children were admitted and examined by a medical practitioner. A call was made to the Family and Community Services Helpline, caseworkers assessed the situation and established that the children were in need of care and protection. Adam's extended family had said that they were not able to provide care for the children. The Department of FACS assumed responsibility for the children in the hospital under s. 44 of the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998.
Under s. 69 of the same Act, The Department of FACS will be seeking an Interim Care order and your team leader has asked you to prepare the care application.
Identify and critically analyse the organisational, ethical and practical issues you might encounter in the process of writing the report?
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The most vulnerable group that needs high care and security is that of a child. Since ages child abuse and neglect has been a case of concern and it’s ever-growing. The case studied here relates to child abuse and domestic violence and involves a sensitive decision to separate parents from their children which brings out the need for a thorough knowledge of the law, thorough knowledge of professional standards and expectations for social workers as well as empathy and a long term approach on the part of the social worker assigned to this case. This case is an excellent example for bringing out different aspects of the empowerment approach to social justice (Rand, 2006) that seeks to define social justice in a practical way, which has been a demand of social workers who find that their practice requires not just well-meaning theories, but also sound practical ways to ensure social justice in society at the personal as well as institutional level.
The essay considers certain aspects, as mentioned in the form of a question in the case, in detail.
The basic issue that would need to be covered in this report is that of Child abuse. Child abuse can be stated and defined as neglect and abuse which can be physical, psychological and sexual of a child by parents or caregivers (NRC;IOM; CLJ; BOC; YAF;COCMR;PfND Phase II, 2014). One of the key aspects in social work is to look at the development of the children concerned and ensure that they are not being abused by those who are supposed to be taking care of them and ensuring that they develop into happy, well-rounded adults (Zifcak, 2014). Law is often used by social workers to address the violations that occur and get legal remedies. The laws across the world are stringent when it comes to child abuse. Most of the times social wrongs that are committed by people such as domestic violence also have consequential legal effects as they are not only wrongs done against the society but also against individuals (Rubin, et al 2016).
The second issue is that of domestic violence. The third issue would be of drug and alcohol abuse. According to an ALRC report on family violence (ALRC Report 114, 2010) the two issues of domestic violence and drug and alcohol abuse are closely related to each other. Abigail and Jimmy were found with scars after a fight which shows that the parents weren’t careful in dealing with the kids. The children are shown to have behavioural problems which at their age can only arise out of neglect. A case had earlier been registered, and help was taken by Glenda, which shows that there were definite problems that were occurring in that household.