Divergence between social work and the law is the shift in the perspective or priority of social work that occurred during the 1930s. Previously social work played an important role in legal processes or in the justice system by supporting investigations and providing vital testimonies in court cases. However, during the 1930s at the onset of the great depression, social work underwent a change in priority so that the direction of efforts was towards humanistic issues and mental health issues so that social workers engaged more in these areas and less in legal aspects.
It was only during the early 1990s that an area of social work renewed links with law. This was spurred by the recognition of social workers of the need to succumb to the legal regulation of the profession to make social workers recognized as service providers. (Barker & Branson, 2000; Neighbors, 2000) In another sense, divergence between social work and the law also pertains to the conflict or friction between the values of social work and laws such as self-determination highly valued by social work relative to the constraints or control imposed by laws.
In mental health care, respect for the person forms part of social work practice but mental health laws allow forms of restraint in certain situations and subject to regulatory standards. (Preston-Shoot, Roberts & Vernon, 2001) As social work again renewed its relationship with law, social workers need to know a number of things about law. First is the manner that laws are made and passed since social workers are also advocates of any change or improvements needed in areas of law they are involved in.
Second is the manner that legal provisions and jurisprudence are interpreted to be able to apply or use laws in various areas of service delivery. Third is the manner that legal provisions are enforced such as procedures in the courtroom, legal documents, roles of members of the legal profession, and other workings of the legal profession since social workers also take part in these procedures. (Barker & Branson, 2000; Neighbors, 2000) 2. Summarize in your own words what forensic social workers do, motivations for forensic social workers, and what are the steps toward forensics becoming a specialty.
Forensic social workers apply social work to issues pertaining to the law or legal systems (Brammer, 2006). Specifically, forensic social workers fulfill three primary functions. First is the provision of consultation, education and training to members of the legal profession, law enforcement authorities, correctional system personnel, and the public over areas of social work integrated with the law. Second is rendering diagnosis and recommendations and providing treatment to populations within the correctional system, crime victims, witnesses, and criminal justice staff.
Third is engaging in administrative and advocacy functions such as policy development, mediation or arbitration, education and training, and research. These are general functions since social workers engage in these functions in terms of their fields of competence or expertise. (Johns, 2007) The greatest and encompassing motivation for forensic social workers is the personal rewards achieved from altruistic actions. The pay of forensic social workers varies according to specialization and expertise. The work is not necessarily appreciated in the criminal justice system or the public.
(Barker & Branson, 2000) There are three steps in becoming a forensic social worker. First is to acquire exceptional knowledge on the selected area of expertise. Second is to effectively communicate acquired knowledge and translate this into practice to enhance expertise. Third is to become known as an expert in the field through networking or referrals. (Barker & Branson, 2000) 3. After reading these two chapters, would forensic social work be a profession you would be interested in pursuing, why or why not? Yes.
Forensic social work is a challenging field that develops the potential of social workers to develop knowledge and skills in a multidimensional field of practice that benefits a wide-range of people, especially those with limited knowledge of the law and legal system. Reference List Barker, R. L. & Branson, D. M. (2000). Forensic social work: Legal aspects of professional practice (2nd edn. ). New York: The Haworth Press. Brammer, A. (2006). Social work law (2nd edn). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Longman. Johns, R. (2007). Using the law in social work (3rd edn.
). Devon: Learning Matters Ltd Neighbors, I. A. (2000). Forensic social work: The interface between social work and the law. In K. Van Wormer & A. R. Roberts (Eds. ), Teaching forensic social work: Course outlines on criminal and juvenile justice and victimology (pp. 113-117). Alexandria, VA: Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), Inc. Preston-Shoot, M. , Roberts, G. & Vernon, S. (2001). Values in social work law: Strained relations or sustaining relationships?. Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, 23(1), 1–22.
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