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It is acknowledged that the family is the basic unit of the society. With this, many efforts have been extended in order to protect families, especially the children. However, despite the evident efforts and measures practiced, it has been assumed that in some areas, many families and children are still vulnerable and with this comes the practice and influence of critical social work practice in order to identify and execute the solutions which are deemed to be effective and necessary.
All children within the context of the family are vulnerable by definition primarily because their rights are mediated by others and because of their relatively young age, their voices are often not heard and their opinions are disregarded in the society. The vulnerability of children also depends on a number of different factors such as the general condition of the family and community and the economic situation of the nation. In line with the vulnerabilities of these children, various groups, aside from the immediate family, are geared towards the protection of the rights of the children and assurance that they are functional parts of the entire community. Some of these groups include schools, businesses, governments, and groups of concerned individuals who advocate for children’s rights to be practiced and protected as well. Some of the risk factors which were identified making children more vulnerable include: poverty, substance abuse, mental and physical illness, homelessness, physical and emotional abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, and unequal access to education and other basic services which are essential for the growth of a child (Stratton et al, 2006).
FIELD OF PRACTICE AND THEORIES
To be able to generate a set of sustainable solutions to protect vulnerable families and children, different practices were identified in the field of critical social work. One of the areas in which attention is given towards showing acre for the vulnerable families is through social protection. This includes all the basic services extended to help improve the living condition of the vulnerable families. In this paper, the focus of the study will be the social protection which was extended in the community to help alleviate the effect of the discussed vulnerabilities.
In the aspect of the practice of social protection, the essential services which are extended include education, healthcare, and the availability of social workers. Perhaps, the most important in this sense is education. There is a need to extend the necessary and adequate knowledge, including the essential information, to the members of the community and reiterate to them what are the causes and effects of vulnerability. With this, a more informed community will emerge and there will be a greater realization of the problem which will potentially lead into having better solutions for such (O’Flaherty, 2007).
Social workers must be able to properly educate the general public about vulnerabilities which exist within the family. First and foremost, the need for informing the community about why such vulnerabilities exist and how it can be laid the proper solutions is essential in approaching the issue. There should initially be an understanding on what the issue is generally all about before further critical practices could manifest its effects. With this, it is assumed that school intervention is necessary in social work practice to address the issue. Children spend most of their time in schools that is why the role of these educational institutions will be indispensable and essential.
In the school intervention, social workers address the problem associated with vulnerabilities in an ecological approach, which means that focus is waived towards both the person and the environment. Practices in order to address the problem could focus on changing the person, the environment, or both if necessary. It is also important to note that school-based intervention is essential in the issue because it enables an interdisciplinary team approach. This theory is especially helpful but it will require good communication skills from the participants in order to understand the existing vulnerabilities within the family and as experienced by children. The authors also emphasized that these kinds of social services should not be viewed as an isolated case but should be considered as a vital part of the general education process (Maluccio et al, 2002).
One important theory in school-based intervention as a mechanism for social protection is that educating the parents of the children will be helpful in the problem. There is a need for social workers to educate the parents and make them aware of certain circumstances which might possibly make their families vulnerable. This practice will be able to help parents have an idea on how they are supposed to cope with stressful situations and how they can understand better the needs of their children (Maluccio et al, 2002)
Aside from has been mentioned, another significant point which is significant in understanding the vulnerabilities of families and children is the need for family resilience. The family resilience framework assumes that this is a significant characteristic which should be present in all families as it will give them the abilities to withstand and rebound from adversity. Especially to families were cases of vulnerability are very evident, it is important for them to be resilient at tough times in order to overcome the occurrence of various challenges that they might face. According to Walsh, (2006), a social work practice geared towards shifting the family from being vulnerable to being resilient must not give up especially when the family is at troubled times, bring out the best in the whole family and not just focus on a single element or an individual, help families to cope and adapt, must be focused on the solutions and should have the necessary strength needed, and should stop putting an emphasis on how the family has been a failure, rather it should focus on how the family will succeed. The approach to establishing a resilient family should allow everyone to not view families as being damaged but rather a group of individuals which can be repaired despite the vulnerabilities and can have the opportunity to grow.
The framework for family resilience shows a great potential to solve the crisis associated with vulnerable families and children. Through resilience, it is assumed that there is a great potential and possibility of veering away from veracity. Furthermore, it should also be noted that the establishment of a resilient family takes more than just having the capacity to manage and control stressful situations, shouldering a burden, or surviving. A resilient family framework involves a stronger relationship within the very basic unit of the society and having a shared effort. In the discussion of the framework for family resilience, it is also important to consider that the theory assumes that no single model fits all families. The framework and practices to be executed will depend largely on the living condition of the family at case and will vary differently depending on how vulnerable the family is. The best ways in order to establish a resilient family would be having team work, shared leadership, and mutual understanding when facing the problems and other predicaments which are confronting the family.
The field of practice which was identified, social protection through education, can be assumed as an effective one. It is effective primarily because it involves not only critical social work but also school intervention. This aspect is very important since most of a child’s time is spent at school. A good academic framework must be able to incorporate discussions regarding how to take an active part in establishing a sound and dynamic family which is improbable from the risks of vulnerabilities. However, for such framework and practices to take effect, there is a need for the proper tools and instruments which will be necessary such as an efficient social work with an effective framework on how such goals will be achieved. In the context of approaching the issue on the vulnerabilities of families and children, it is essential for the social worker to note the fact that there is a great and significant need to understand the problem and put put himself in the context of the family concerned in the situation. An effective social worker must be able to properly reflect on their own families and understand such because it is essential to be more effective when understanding the situation and the needs of other families in the community.
As a recommendation to better address the issue of vulnerabilities of children and families, there is a need to approach the problem on each level. The first level would most probably be the individual. Education again is primary to this approach. The individual himself must be able to understand what vulnerability is all about and what the risks which are associated with such are. The next level is the family. The role of the family as a whole, especially the guidance of the parents is essential to be bale to veer away from the risks of vulnerability. A bigger group, after the family, is the entire community. This is a great concern for social workers. The community must also be properly educated regarding the social protection for vulnerable families so that its members will be aware on what practices are necessary to be executed and what measures are necessary to be observed.
One more recommendation to address the issue more effectively to make everyone acknowledge the existence of the issue and do not deny its presence. An acceptance of the fact that there are vulnerabilities within families will be a first step to trigger further initiatives. It is also recommended that social workers who work in this practice should first examine and understand their own families so that they could understand better others.
Although many studies and researches have already been completed regarding this issue, it is evident that being vulnerable is still one of the greatest threats confronting the global family and community nowadays. For such to be effective, the role of critical social work is very significant as well as the efforts which were anticipated to be carried out by social workers. For such measures to prove themselves effective, there is a need for proper execution of the practice and should be grounded on a strong framework based on socially acceptable theories on families. With the right plan and action, the problem with vulnerabilities on family and children can be alleviated at least.
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