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Governance for Black America part 2 – National Black Caucus

In a previous post I mentioned a need for representation of the Black community on the local and national political stages.

Establish a national Black Caucus. I know there is a congressional caucus that is looking at the representing the interests of the African American community however, I am proposing an expansion or a separate entity. The remit would be calling our prominent figures that are doing things that are counterproductive to change, prosperity and/or progression within the community. We would manage public relations of national community issues – sending representatives to rally locals and improve media portrayal of the community. We would prepare local political candidates to represent the community and create local caucuses to help them address the issues prevalent in their own communities. It would be a coming together of local and national leaders.

To be more specific I think the remit of the caucus could be:

* making “community call outs” on any prominent figures – local, nationally, or internationally – who are doing or saying things that are counterproductive to change, prosperity and progression.
* manage image of the Black community in the media
* manage community issues before they become national statistics and fodder for stereotyping
* sending consultants to communities to help in times of crisis (public relations, organizing, creating strategic actions plans for change led by local leaders)
* sending consultants to communities where leaders appeal to the caucus for assistance
* training of local community on change management, building community resources, and training local “champions” to manage local political processes
* aiding in ensuring there is equal political representation and policing in communities where Black people dominate the population (to start)
* re establishing town hall meetings as a means of addressing local issues and manage them independently
* building of funds to fund community interventions
– financial drives: possibly local drives to address their own issues
– National drives: appeals to organizations and representation for national crisis fund

As I’ve said, we have all the talent and ability to unite and do better. Having a national voice is part of it but listening to local voices is the bulk of it. Let’s build on what we have to increase what we have.

 

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Governance for Black America Part 1

In the wake of #ferguson we can all agree that something needs to be done. I think we can all agree that we need to stand in a way we haven’t for many years. We need to take responsibility for what is going on in our communities. We need to do better and there are ideas as to how to do this.

“Black America Needs Its Own President” I wholeheartedly disagree. For years we had something akin to this in the likes of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson but then we are still having the same conversations. We are still reactive and not largely proactive. We are still asking for the same things and making the same demands. We don’t need our own president what we need is to take responsibilities for ourselves and form a coalition to directly address behaviour, policies and practices that are detrimental to the way we are viewed globally and treated locally. They need to be able to directly and assertively lobby for changes that obliterate racial disparities. We need to develop a caucus that goes into our communities where there are issues and organize strategic action that doesn’t include violence or destroying our own communities. We are a people of immense and immeasureable talent and potential. We need representative voices that are not only saying something new but are about REAL action – strategic and targetted that would upilft and empower our communities.

Having one person we look to when things go wrong isn’t the answer. We are a diverse people living in diverse communities all over the country. If we had a caucus where individual leaders from Black communities could come together we can start having the conversations that lead to action plans. We need to address our economic needs and start to build community wealth so we are in a position to help each other instead of relying on others. This is not an impossibility. There is no reason our community shouldn’t be as prosperous as others. It isn’t about amassing wealth as much as it about being able to help our own through crisis. So many have been doing it for so long, meanwhile we are still waiting for our 40acres. I can’t stand people who continue to perpetuate a myth. We are the only people who rely on our oppressors for progress. Are we serious? This is why we have made progress but have not become leaders and drivers of changes in our communities.

I agree that there needs to be a Black presence to represent our interests but it does not need to come in the form of one person who is on the media stage. It would be more empowering to go into communities and help develop local leaders who can then come to the table to represent their communities. The problems individual communities face are problems our community faces on the whole. There are those who still see our problems as the problem of “Black Americans”, having amassed their own wealth through hard work and dedication and I believe this is what is needed. But we also need to realise that the resources to achieve this are not readily available to everyone and there are communities that are systematically disenfranchised and would benefit from assistance and motivaiton from their peers in order to see and experience success. We need to help each other out of the trenches and onto the the path of prosperity. There is no reason for us to rely on others to take us out of the shadows; we have everything we need within. It is about having the conversations (new one because quite frankly, there have been apologies for slavery, we need to stop expecting our oppressors to help us progress – i.e. move away from the fairytale of our 40acres and a mule, and we need to wholly understand the impact of racism ourselves) that will lead to strategic plans to impact the world around us so it will change in favor of us. A coalition of communities leaders could do this. Yes they will come with their own agendas and understandly so – they come from varied communities; however, it doesn’t change the fact that there are some issues that are pervasive and need to be addressed. We can balance the two, addressing issues of the Black community as a whole while helping individual communities develop.

 

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Twenty minute brain fart (writing assignment)

Okay, so somehow I managed to do the totally wrong assignment for the Writing 101 online course. Well, d’uh. Now you have the reason for the title of today’s post. Well here it is, all that’s on my mind in no particular order and probably not making too much sense.

So I’m in training today for a new software program that my organization has invested in. Last week a bunch of people went and complained about how difficult it was and how it didn’t make any sense. See, this is why I don’t listen to other people. I fell into the abyss of boredom at least twice with people asking questions that have been answered twice and not needing to have my hand held. I am over it. I probably could have figured out how to use this program in a day or so just left on my own to play with it. Ok, so now for the training gossip, cuz who doesn’t love a bit of the naughty stuff, eh? There is a senior manager in the group who was informed of the fact that something we are doing in the organization may not be totally legal or being done in a transparent way. His response was basically, “this is the way we’ve always done it.” He then went on to tell the trainer not to bring up that particular issue when he delivers this course to practitioners. I wanted to totally throw a nerfball at his head. It just sounded so outside of what I’d expect someone who is making close to £100K a year to say. Oh, and if that’s not bad enough, he dresses like he’s 14 and has never had a job before. It is so annoying. I know it is trivial and I know he has kids but I’m sorry, you can’t afford one pair of pants (trousers) that actually fit???? Uh, no! That is total crap especially if your partner works as well. Ok, I’m done. I will be good from now one.

Ok I lied. I refuse to be good. This is my brain fart so I am going to make it loud and truly stinky. LOL! I shouldn’t really, but m’eh. I am going to write badly and use horrible English. Dude, I am trying to write and they are screaming. Screaming! Dear gosh! Can I just say how much it interrupts the creative process when you have people who speak so loudly it is almost screaming????? Argh, can I just say – yeah I said it again – how much it annoys me to be around attention seeking adults. Why does everyone need to know you are in the room??? For goodness sakes! I think people think when I am smiling it is because I agree with what is going on or I think what is going on is amusing. WRONG! Usually they have died horrific cartoon-esque deaths in my head and I am amused by my own dark and malicious humor. Ha! Ha! Not very good for a Social Worker, huh? I have a surprisingly dark, politically incorrect and virtually offensive sense of humor. I would even go so far as to say, at times, it is down right perverse – and I love it! I love that no one can predict – including me – what is going on in my head. I love when random thoughts run through my brain, causing me to smile and it makes someone else smile. If it were a crime they would be complicit – an accessory after the fact. I love that turn people into character criminals. It’s amazing. I made them into offenders of social and political correctness. Ha! Now you’re no better than me even though you’re just smiling to be polite. Mwaaahhahhahaha! I am the kind of criminal that effects others but will never be caught because they don’t know that they are committing crimes. My world is so blissfully dark and amusing.

I got off topic somewhere. What was I talking about? Okay who cares. I think I might have heartburn. That’s what I get for having spicy food for lunch. I wasn’t even really hungry. I just ate because it was lunch time. Do you ever do that? Eat because it’s time, not because you actually want food? It can’t just be me. Well it might be; it’s completely irrelevant.

I am ready to go home. I am considering whether or not I should go to the gym tonight or if I should just ditch and do both workouts tomorrow morning. I am totally not paying attention to this trainer, which isn’t good because my manager is in the room. But, I find she doesn’t notice too much that isn’t glued to her eyelids. Is that mean? LOL! It made me smile. Hmm, I only have a minute of this left and I am afraid I have just scared you all into believing I should be put in a mental hospital. I probably should. I mean I am qualified to make that assessment. I would say I have some sort of personality disorder. I am definitely narcissistic. There might be some other things going on there as well. Too many head traumas? Yeah, that’s in there somewhere. Uh, that’s my time folks. Hope you enjoyed the horrors that spew from my brain when I am told not to use a filter. I shouldn’t be allowed in the company of good people. Peace out homies. ~ Daily Prompt

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2014 in writing assignment

 

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Extra, extra read all about it

nureaucracyEvery time I log into my blog reader or check my Facebook feed, I feel like someone is inputting information faster than I can categorise it. As an occupational hazard, my brain is automatically distressed at the site of over-sexualised children or children being abused. My inner social justice advocate wants to start petitions and lobby congress. My inner girlie girl wants to buy shoes and pretend like the rest of the world exists. The daddy’s girl wants to call home and have dad come pick me up so I can escape the malice and ill-intentions of the world. There is so much information you get lost in it all. You are liking pages and commenting on statuses while still locked in the emotion from the earlier post. It is difficult to remember where you started once you get going.

So much access to information. So much opportunity to share information one has to wonder if people actually think, “should I share this?” Every page I like I think, “will this offend”. Every article I read I think “what can I do”? Every picture, every status, every millisecond of every day images, opinions, facts, fiction, slander, malice, beauty, intrigue, retail escape, encouragement to spend money I don’t have bombard my senses and make me wonder how I can become someone else.

Everyday is a new adventure in figuring out who I want to be and how I intend to get there. Sometimes choice is overwhelming and information transports you into the multi-faceted worlds in the minds of too many others. ~ Daily Prompt 

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2014 in Social Work

 

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Getting it right to get it right

Assessment Prompts

Below is list of things to consider when discussing issues with families. This list is not exhaustive and you may come up with your own as you work with the family. Please remember your follow up questions to families will be based on the information provided to you and specific to that family. These are just starting points or ways to help facilitate the conversation. Always give the family a chance to tell you their story, then ask questions to get more depth.

Reason for undertaking the assessment

  • What is the referral requesting?
  • What would they like you to do?
  • Why did they refer to your service as opposed to another?

Relevant history or background:

  • Does the family have a history with your service? If so what is this? What was achieved? What wasn’t? What was the outcome?
  • Does the family have a history with other partner agencies (social care, TYSS, YOT, Community Safety, and Educational Welfare)? If so what information do they hold about the family? What insights can they offer?

Where a young person / parent has a disability or where they have specific communication needs, what actions have been taken to address this

  • Does the family need an interpreter? What language do they speak?
  • Are there mobility issues?
  • Are there learning difficulties in the family?
  • Have you made reasonable arrangements for any/ all of these?

Health

  • Are there any members of the family with a chronic illness?
  • Are there any historical illnesses in the family?
  • Is there a high prevalence for illness in the family? (Cancers, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.)
  • Is anyone on medication? What is it for? How often? Are they compliant? Who is monitoring?
  • Anyone formally diagnosed with a mental health disorder?
  • Anyone seeing a specialist? What is this for?
  • Any addictions in the family? Alcohol? Drugs? Prescription meds?
  • Anyone using substances (alcohol, drugs) regularly?
  • Anyone currently pregnant? Are they receiving pre-natal care?
  • Anyone ever have an extended period of illness? What is the status of this illness now? What was the illness?

Education

  • How many children are there in the home aged 5-19? If they have a disability up to 25?
  • Are they all registered in education? What school, college or university?
  • What is their attendance? Do they attend regularly? Are they punctual/on time?
  • Do any of the children have statements? If so, what kind of support are they receiving?
  • Have any of the children ever been excluded? If so, why and for how long?
  • Are any of the children in an alternative provision or PRU?
  • How well do parents think are they achieving? What is their attainment level?
  • Which education professionals are currently working with the family (EWO, SENCO, learning mentors, Educational psychologists, etc.)?
  • If they are year 2, 6, or year 11, what did they get on their SATs/GCSEs?
  • What were the children’s experiences in primary school?
  • What are the children’s favourite subjects?
  • What was secondary school like for each child?
  • How did children manage the transition from year 6 to year 7? What was that year like? Did you make any friends? What was their timetable? Did anything go wrong? Why/what happened?
  • If things went wrong, what would have helped? Would they have liked someone to talk to about things?
  • Are parents aware of the issues brought up by young people? If so, how did parents manage issues in school?
  • What was the parents’ experience of education? How far did they go? Were there any barriers to going further?
  • What is the parents’ view of education?

Family and Social Relationships

  • Who’s in the family home?
  • Who’s important to family function that doesn’t live in the family home?
  • Who do individuals in the family consider their support network? Are they inside or outside of the home?
  • What do individual family members think of each other?
  • What do individual family members think of the family as a whole?
  • Which members of the family have the closest relationships?
  • Which members of the family have strained relationships? Why is this? When did it begin? What precipitated it?
  • How do the parents interact with the children?
  • How do the children interact with each other?
  • How do children respond to parents?
  • What are the important non biological relationships that exist for the family? How are they involved?
  • How do the family view support from other members?
  • Do family members talk to each other?
  • Are family members able to say positive things about each other?
  • How often do the family spend time with each other?

Social presentation

  • Do the family know their neighbours?
  • Do they have relationships with their neighbours? Is this positive or negative? Why?
  • Do they use services in the neighbourhood? Which ones? How are their relationships with the providers of these services?
  • Do they like their neighbourhood? If not why? If so why?
  • Has anyone in the family committed an offense? If so what offense? What was the outcome?
  • Is anyone in the family involved in gang activity? If so which gang? What do they get from this? Why is this important for them?
  • Has anyone been engaging in anti-social behaviour? If so what happened? What was the outcome?
  • Has there been a lack of engagement with services in the past? What is the family’s explanation of this? What did they get out of the service? What did they want from the service that they didn’t get?
  • How does the family present to you? Closed? Open? Ambivalent? What is the family’s explanation of this?

Self-Care skills

  • How do the family present? Do they appear to be clean, groomed? What do you see, physically, when you look at them?
  • How is the family home? Is it neat? Is it tidy? What did you see when you went to the home?
  • How are the children in the home? How often do they bathe? How often are chores done? Who is responsible for which chores?
  • Was there a smell present in the house? Where was this coming from?
  • Were there things in the home that needed to be repaired? What were these? What have the family said they are doing about this?
  • Is there furniture in the home? How are these being cared for? What do they look like?

Parents’ / carers’ attributes

  • How do the parents feel about being parents? Were pregnancies planned? What were the circumstances of the children’s births? Was it a happy occasion or was there tension or strain in relationships (with family or partners) due to pregnancy?
  • What did parents know about babies and children when they got pregnant?
  • Did they want children?
  • What was it like being pregnant? Giving birth? Holding the baby for the first time?
  • Are the parents married?
  • Do they both live in the home? If not, which parent is the primary care?
  • Are parental duties shared? If so, how? If not, what are the feelings about this?
  • How are parents/carers managing the home? Are there boundaries in place? How are these enforced? Are the children responding to the boundaries? Are some responding and not others? Why is this?
  • Are there issues affecting the parents’ ability to completely engage as head of the household? (physical illness; mental illness; physical disability; learning disability; sensory impairment; period in care; period in care during childhood; experience of being abused; experience of being abused as a child; known history of abuse; known history of abuse of children; substance/alcohol misuse; domestic violence; known history of violence) How long have they been issues? What has been tried to help manage the issue? What’s helped in the past? What hasn’t helped?
  • How old were parents when the children were born? Was this during a period of developmental transition? What developmental activities did they miss out on due to pregnancy/parenting? How does this impact their parenting?
  • If there are multiple children in the home, how was each pregnancy different? What did they do differently with each child? What did they learn as they continued to parent?
  • How much do the parents know about their children and their children’s activities?
  • What are the rules in the home? How well are these adhered to? Why?
  • What kind of discipline is used in the home? Who is the primary disciplinarian?
  • How involved are the parents with their children’s education? Do they know their children’s timetable or what time they start? Helping with homework? Going to parents’ evenings? What is their relationship like with their children’s teachers?
  • Do parents know their children’s friends? How do they feel about their children’s friends? Has there ever been a need for parents to intervene to end friendships due to negative influences? How was this handled? How was it received?
  • Do parents know their children’s friends parents? What is their relationship like?
  • What is the parents’ view of their children? Positive? Negative? Why?
  • What do the parents think is the potential of each of their children? What do they see as their role in helping their children reach this potential?
  • What do parents see as their role in the lives of their children overall?
  • Are there relationship difficulties between parents and children? When did this start? How do parents and children explain this?
  • Are there historical difficulties in parent/child relationships? What helped improve these?
  • What do they enjoy about being parents?
  • What do they find particularly challenging about being parents?
  • How do parents rate their own parenting ability? Why?
  • How do the children rate their parents parenting ability? Why?
  • What would help make these ratings higher for each?
  • What kind of parent would they like to be? What would help them achieve this, realistically?

Identity

  • How do the family see themselves as a whole? Good? Needing improvement? Why?
  • How do individual family members see themselves?
  • What ethnicity is the family? How do they identify themselves?
  • What traditions do they have?
  • What do they feel is important about their culture?
  • Are they religious? What is their religion? How often do they attend services? Are they active in their religious institution? What religious traditions do they have?
  • What is the family’s immigration status? Does everyone in the family have status? What is being done about this if not?
  • How do the family think they are seen by members of their local community? Their religious community? Their broader family? Their friends?

Family history

  • What has led the family to being referred to the service?
  • What do they see as the significant events in their lives? How have these events impacted them as a family and individual members of the family?
  • What do the family think they can do better? Why?
  • What kind of family would they like to be? Why?
  • What would they change about their past if they could? Why?
  • How are they different now than they were 2 years ago? 5 years ago?
  • What issues have they had in the past that they have successfully managed? What helped?
  • What issues have they had in the past that continue to be issues? What have they tried? What would they be willing to try?

Family and environmental factors

  • Where do the family live? What kind of accommodation? Rented or owned? Private, council or housing association? Are there rent arrears? How much? How long has it been going on? What is being done about it? Are they going to be evicted?
  • Who in the home is employed? What do they do? How much do they make? Would they like to work toward a promotion? Would they like to be doing something else? Have they looked into changing careers? For those not working, what would they like to do? What have they done to forward this goal? What would help them take steps toward work?
  • How much money is coming into the family home? Are they on benefits? If so how much do they get and how often? Is there still a need after they receive their benefits? Is anyone in the home unemployed and looking for work? What kind of work? Do they need extra training?
  • Is the family engaged with any other services? Which services? What are they helping with? Does the family think the services are making an impact? What could be better? What is working?

Views of the family

  • What would the family like to change?
  • What do the family see as the major issues within the family?
  • What do the family feel are their strengths?
  • What would they like to start changing first?
  • What are they able to do for themselves?
  • What areas will they need support in addressing?
  • What do they want from you?
  • Do they believe you can have an impact on their situation? How and why?
  • In a perfect world, what would their family look like?
  • Based on their previous ratings as parents, from the parents perspective how can that rating be improved?
  • From the children’s perspective, how could their parents improve?
  • What would the children like to be different in the family? Why? How do they see this happening?

Views of the professionals

  • How long have they worked with the family?
  • What service did/do they provide?
  • How would they describe their relationship with the family?
  • What were their impressions of the family as a whole? Individual members?
  • Who did they see as influential members of the family?
  • Were there any members that appeared to be divisive? How so? What did they do? What didn’t they do?
  • Did they encounter any resistance? Why was this? Was it challenged? How?
  • If they are no longer working with the family, why did service come to an end? What were the outcomes of their interventions? Were there any recommendations for further work?
  • Did they make any referrals on behalf of the family? (If they did and the family did not engage this should be discussed with the family to find out why not)

Analysis

  • What long term impact would the current situation have if it were allowed to continue (= risks)?
  • What are the mitigating factors, i.e. – those things that make the risks less worrying (= strengths)?
  • Are there any gaps? What risks remain once the strengths/mitigating factors have been identified?
  • This information will lead you to the services that might be able to assist the client and mitigate the remaining risks. Having this information will inform your plan.
 

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Social Work and Family systems

667I am going to start this off by saying, if you are a social worker, none of this should be new or revolutionary. I think we need to start seeing people as part of larger systems that are interconnected because very rarely are our clients existing in isolation. Having said that SCIE (Social Care Institute for Excellence) says:

The Think Family agenda recognises and promotes the importance of a whole-family approach which is built on the principles of ‘Reaching out: think family’ (18):

  • No wrong door – contact with any service offers an open door into a system of joined-up support. This is based on more coordination between adult and children’s services.
  • Looking at the whole family – services working with both adults and children take into account family circumstances and responsibilities. For example, an alcohol treatment service combines treatment with parenting classes while supervised childcare is provided for the children.
  • Providing support tailored to need – working with families to agree a package of support best suited to their particular situation.
  • Building on family strengths – practitioners work in partnerships with families recognising and promoting resilience and helping them to build their capabilities. For example, family group conferencing is used to empower a family to negotiate their own solution to a problem.

There are many things we need to consider when we are looking at assessing children who are exhibiting a need. I purposely didn’t say children in need as this refers to a specific population and I believe the following could be applied when conducting an assessment with any child and family. As I have said in other posts, understanding the context in which a child lives is critically to effecting lasting change.

This is what I refer to as Familial Interdependence (my term, if you use it quote me): By including the needs of the adults and other children in the home in our assessments and interventions, we are recognising the interdependence and inter-relatedness of the family and its circumstances.

No member of a family operates in isolation. The behaviour or circumstances of an individual member is going to have an impact on other members. This is the foundation of a family working.

We recognize and acknowledge the impact of unemployment on parents’ ability to be completely mentally and emotionally available to their children and each other. We recognise the impact of youth offending on the other children in the home and parents’ ability to continue to parent effectively while managing the behaviour of the offender. We recognise how all of these or other social issues may be impacting on parents’ ability to ensure their child(ren) are attending school regularly and on time to be counted.

Working with the entire family does not represent a shift in how we view children or how we work with them. It represents a shift in how we view the impact of the entire family’s circumstances on the child (ren), their ability to function and their ability to develop in their current environment.

In the current economic climate we are seeing a change in the way social care workers are expected to work. One view is a return to a time where social care staff were undertaking generic working. Social Workers, support workers, family workers – all worked with children and adults. In an age of cost saving, we are all looking to do more for less. All current work and work that is to be undertaken in the near future has to be sustainable and able to meet the needs of families. It needs to have built in processes to ensure that it can withstand proposed cuts so as not to disrupt service delivery and the positive outcomes stability can yield.

Services overall need to understand and appreciate these facts early on and build their system of working with the family around the current staff instead of creating new structures. Social Workers need to be taught the skills to be a sustainable workforce that would also provide a continuity of service and familiarity to clients from the outset which is why we need to ensure that reforms to social work education should be robust and responsive to the needs on the ground.

 

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Finding my voice

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I sometimes find it difficult to keep up with everything happening in the world that effects or should be effected by social work and social workers. In spite of my desire to make a difference and have a substantial impact, it is almost impossible to follow all media outlets, to comment on everything and to know it all.

Rationally I know social work isn’t about doing it all. Logically I know it is impossible but I feel like I should be doing more. I feel like I should know more and be able to effect greater change in the world around me. Children and families have always been my area of expertise. I  want to do more. I  have this blog and hope that it has been of use to those who follow it. There is so much to do in both micro and macro practice. It can result in caring overload.

As a professional I regularly tell others to seek help when they are at a loss as to what to do. It is time to take my own advice from the experts. Thank you for following along and watch this space as I continue to share my knowledge, experiences and ideas.

 

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