I have been working in the UK for over 5 years now and the one thing I notice is this clear line of delineation between Adult Social Work and Children’s Social Work which was not true of Social Work in NY. I feel like there is more recognition of the transferable skills of Social Workers. I think because we are trained from a Generalist perspective as undergraduates and go on to hold positions such as Caseworker, Case Manager, Case Planner and are not “Social Workers” until we have done the specialist training that a Masters Degree provides.
I have to mention though that there are many holding positions such as Caseworker, Case Planner and Case Manager that do not hold degrees in Social Work. For those particular positions, specifically in NY all that is needed is a Bachelors Degree.
Despite the above I believe that anyone calling themselves a Social Worker should possess a core set of transferable skills that should allow a Social Worker to work in either adults or children’s social work and these should be recognized by employers for those looking to make the move from children’s to adults of visa versa. What I believe distinguishes one from another is the knowledge base. This can be supplemented by agency based offered by the specific organization or population based training offered in the community by the experts in that population. The knowledge base would include legislation; service specific policy and procedures; service specific IT systems; and information regarding community based and organizational services.
The skills I feel are imperative for all Social Workers are:
Being able to ask the right questions
Being comfortable probing and digging beneath the answers given
Listening to the stories of clients
Explaining the concerns of the local authority
Explaining their service specific role and the extent to that particular involvement
Meeting people where they are
Not using jargon/Social Work speak with clients
Compromise: this means balancing:
Meeting some of the needs identified by the client/addressing some of their concerns and,
Meeting our statutory duties or the duties outlined by the organization
Working with the client not against them
Gathering the facts
Reporting/recording the facts as given to you
Corroboration: medical, education, psychiatry, psychology, probation, police, housing, substance abuse, support services, probation/parole, youth services, youth offending
Analysis: (based on facts gathered during assessment)
What are the presenting needs or risks
What are the strengths
Do the strengths mitigate the risks and why this is your view
If not, what effect will not meeting these needs/addressing the risks have on the client system
Referral to appropriate services
Based on analysis
Answering the question: how will identified needs be addressed
Valuing multi-agency expertise and contributions
Regular meetings (case conferences/coordination) as a matter of course
Incorporating all professionals in the planning
Based on the assessment
Actions to address identified needs
Reviewed regularly and updated
Statements as to why unmet actions not addressed
Situation and client specific
Do not write the way you speak! Unless you speak perfect English
Details of contact: exactly what happened, with whom and any follow up measures
Prioritizing: what’s the most immediate
Person specific (based on your own practice)
Tools: diary, to do lists, planning, diarising deadlines
Self care/self awareness
– Can you tell when it’s all becoming too much and what do you do
– Responsibility for your own professional development
– Using supervision
– Come ready with an agenda that is equally case management and equally
– Have a career plan that informs your professional development
In my opinion these are skills all Social Workers need and essentially those I have noticed that the “good” Social Workers possess. I think there is also a need for good interpersonal skills in Social Work to facilitate the work we do. I talk more about these in another post.
Social Work is one of those fields that operates at both a generalist/organic and a specialist level. Meaning, there are transferrable skills we should all possess that allow us to work with clients across the age gap as well as possess some specialist knowledge regarding the specific problems of those we serve. We need to be negotiators and politicians. We need to empower not enable. We need to assess the facts not judge based on personal feelings and biases. Most of all Social Workers need to keep their clients at the focus of their work. Keeping this in mind at all times will help you ask the questions that will get you the answers you will need to plan and get your clients access to the services they will need to thrive.
We are both Children’s and Adults Social Workers. We are after all Social Workers.
101 Greatest Websites for Social Workers (socialworkhelper.com)