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An Ecological-Developmental Framework for Practice in Children and Family Services


• Webb, N. B. (2019). Social work practice with children (4th ed.). New York, NY: The Guilford Press. 

o Chapter 1, “The Challenge of Meeting Children’s Needs in the Context of Difficult Family and Community Environments” 

o Chapter 2, “Challenges for Practitioners in Helping Children: Understanding the Multifaceted Role of the Social Worker” 

  • Working With Children and Families: The Case of Hamza      (PDF) 

1 Working With Children and Families: The Case of Hamza Hamza came to my office after his teacher said he “did not fit” in her classroom. Hamza is the 12-year-old son of an Southeast Asian family who recently moved to a small Midwestern town to join other family members. I was the school social worker, and Hamza arrived in my office on the fourth day of the new school year with a note from the teacher that said, “He doesn’t get along with the other kids in the classroom.” As part of my assessment, I asked the teacher, teacher’s assistant, and Hamza’s parents to complete a child behavior inventory. No specific information came back on the inventories to suggest a problem. At that time, I asked Hamza’s parents and his teacher to attend a case conference. During the conference, Hamza’s parents disclosed their recent immigration and their lack of documentation to remain in the United States. At that point, Hamza’s teacher exclaimed, “I knew it; he should not be here [in the U.S.], and he definitely should not be in my class!” As the school social worker, I felt uncertain how to respond. Hamza’s teacher apparently held animosity toward Hamza and his immigration status. At the same time, Hamza’s educational, emotional, and social well-being was my concern. I was responsible for ensuring a that strengths perspective was embraced and surrounded each of our students. In the following weeks, I worked with the teachers and parents to place Hamza’s needs as priority. © 2019 Laureate Education, Inc. 2 During the next six weeks, I worked with Hamza’s parents and teachers to acknowledge without compromise the barriers that would exist for Hamza in the education system. The third six weeks brought change. Hamza was encouraged to excel at school, his parents accepted my efforts as the school social worker and the efforts of the teachers, and the district authorities embraced a unified social/emotional educational plan for Hamza, along with other undocumented students.

  • Working With Children and Families: The Case of the      Patterson Family (PDF) 

1 Working With Children and Families: Case of the Patterson Family Samuel had just turned 6 and was in kindergarten when he was referred for school-based outpatient services. Samuel is a white male who was living in multiple locations, but primarily with his mother and younger brother in a downtown housing project. Samuel was intelligent and attended head start programs before kindergarten. However, since he had started kindergarten, his behavior in the classroom was out of control. Samuel had 3 to 4 major tantrums a week and multiple smaller tantrums every day. These tantrums included screaming, crying, throwing things, hitting others, and running away. Samuel was always either sad or angry, and he rarely ever appeared to be happy. Otherwise, Samuel was a healthy and active boy. Samuel’s parents were divorced a year before he started kindergarten, and since then, Samuel’s father’s involvement with him and his brother has been intermittent. Before his parents were divorced, there was frequent instances of domestic violence. Samuel was a witness to much of this violence, but neither Samuel nor his brother was ever harmed physically. Samuel was confused about his relationship with his dad because he wanted to spend time with him, but did not like the way his father treated his mother. Samuel was very attached to his mother and also had a difficult time when his brother was born. Samuel was almost 4 years old at the time. These two events occurred around the same time and immediately preceded the increase in number as well as severity of Samuel’s tantrums. Samuel’s mother is legally blind, and therefore, since she and her husband got divorced, Samuel and his brother spend a lot of time at many different places. Samuel’s © 2019 Laureate Education, Inc. 2 mother is reliant on her family to help with raising her sons and with many other daily tasks such as transportation and shopping. This inconsistency in caregiving added to Samuel’s emotional instability. Samuel was unable to verbalize his feelings or express them in positive ways. Samuel would become upset quickly, and that would lead to whining, shutting down, defiance, and tantrums. Samuel also quickly went from sad to angry and could be verbally and physically aggressive at those times. I began to work with the client in the school setting which is where the most severe tantrums seemed to occur, but it was evident that there needed to be more consistency within the home as well. Samuel was brilliant, interested in school, creative, and had a desire to “be good.” Samuel’s goals were to increase his ability to regulate his emotions and process his emotions related to witnessing domestic violence and the subsequent divorce of his parents. My first focus was on establishing positive therapeutic rapport with Samuel. Samuel did not trust many people at the school, and it was important to build that trust through consistent follow-through and positive engagement. Samuel responded well to the one-on-one attention and began to open up about his feelings of sadness and anger. Samuel also began to process the events of his past and his current living situation. It was also important to incorporate classroom interventions to help assimilate what Samuel was practicing during therapy sessions. I collaborated with Samuel’s classroom teacher to create some systems within the classroom. We created a behavior chart that rewarded Samuel for positive behavior within the classroom such as raising his hand, staying in his seat, and walking from one place to another with the class. We also created a calm-down corner in the room that included a bean bag chair, squishy © 2019 Laureate Education, Inc. 3 balls, Mandala coloring sheets, and a mind jar for meditation. The calm-down corner became an area that any child in the classroom could use and benefited the entire class. I also collaborated with the school counselor to create an emotional regulation group for the school that utilized the Zones of Regulation curriculum. Samuel was a part of the kindergarten and first-grade group. The Zones curriculum provided a common language to use when discussing emotions and responses in situations as well as during modeling situation. This common language was provided for all the school staff that interacted with the group members as well as all parents and caregivers. The Zones of Regulation provides a system for sorting emotions, identifying appropriate situations for all emotions, coping skills, appropriate responses to problems, and connecting how individual behaviors affect others. Samuel struggled to be able to maintain his emotions during the group, but even with the behavioral difficulties and outbursts, he was able to process a lot of the information. Samuel responded well to the interventions put in place in the school setting. Since starting the first grade, he has had one major tantrum, but was able to calm himself and rejoin the class. Samuel reports that he is happy more days than he is sad. He still gets angry and can be mean to his peers when this occurs. Samuel’s goals going forward are to improve his negative attitude and continue to process his emotions surrounding the domestic violence and separation of his parents. In going forward, there also needs to be an increased focus on consistency in the home setting in providing appropriate behavior plans and communication. Samuel’s biggest hurdle at this time is the negative environment he encounters from living in the projects and the attitude that © 2019 Laureate Education, Inc. 4 he needs to fight to be a part of it. Samuel is intelligent, and if he can continue to work toward his goals, he can continue to see success. 

Reflection Questions 1. What specific intervention strategies (skills, knowledge, etc.) did you use to address this client situation? I used behavior modification when creating charts and goals and reward systems with the teacher in the classroom. I used meditation, specifically using what we called a mind jar, to teach settling our thoughts, minds, and behaviors. We practiced many forms of deep breathing such as belly breathing and lazy eight breathing. The most important skill I feel I used in this case as in many cases was building therapeuticrapport. 2. Which theory or theories did you use to guide yourpractice? The primary theory that I used to guide my practice in the case was cognitive-behavioral therapy. At times, I focused more on the behavioral theories, but mostly we focused on learning how thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are connected. I also use AIM Forward to guide my practice, which is focusing on being trauma-informed in all the work that you do, including the space where you provide services. 3. What were the identified strengths of the client(s)? The client was smart and wanted to do well in school. Mom was supportive of services. The client was resilient and energetic. The client was engaged in services and well. He was also creative and artistic. © 2019 Laureate Education, Inc. 5 4. What were the identified challenges faced by the client(s)? There were multiple challenges. The classroom room was not set up well to address his needs. The client’s mother was legally blind. The client was living in multiple places due to the additional help his mother needed. The client did not know how to express his feelings in a positive manner. The client’s father was not involved. The client was living in the projects in an unsafe neighborhood. 5. What were the agreed-upon goals to be met to address the concern? The agreed-upon goals were for the client to learn to express and manage his emotions. This was a goal that all parties agreed upon, including the client. An additional goal was for the client to process growing up in an abusive home and what he witnessed this was an important goal for the client’s mom. 6. Did you have to address any issues around cultural competence? Did you have to learn about this population/group before beginning your work with this client system? If so, what type of research did you do to prepare? I have many clients that live in his neighborhood. I have learned from the clients themselves about the culture in which they live. They live in poverty and the neighborhoods can be violent. 7. What local, state, or federal policies could (or did) affect thissituation? The school that I serve is a Title 1 school, which means that they receive extra money from the state to have additional supports academically. The family receives assistance through the state for Medicaid and housing. © 2019 Laureate Education, Inc. 6 8. How would you advocate for social change to positively affect this case? Housing, I believe is where the most positive social change can occur. These families that live in poverty are forced to live in “projects,” which promotes the circle of poverty and creates unsafe living environments. 9. Were there any legal/ethical issues present in the case? If so, what were they and how were they addressed? There are always ethical issues that should be taken into consideration when working within a school. There are many levels of confidentiality that need to be maintained, and it can be difficult at times to know the appropriate level of information to disclose even with releases of information. It was important to give the teacher and the counselor some information to be able to appropriately assist in change, but even though the client was 5 years old, it was important for him to be aware of what would be shared and what wouldn’t. 10. How can evidence-based practice be integrated into this situation? The utilization of cognitive-behavioral therapy was an evidence-based practice. The curriculum for the Zones of Regulation is based on evidence-based practices of cognitive-behavioral therapy and social thinking. 11. Is there any additional information that is important to the case? The client is continuing to improve, but also being able to incorporate the family piece with the school is going to be critical going forward. 12. Describe any additional personal reflections about this case. © 2019 Laureate Education, Inc. 7 What I have learned most from this case and others is the importance of building a good therapeutic relationship. It was the turning point for the client knowing there was someone whom he could go to in order to help calm down when he wasn’t able to do so himself. Also, change is a gradual process and takes time.

An Ecological-Developmental Practice Perspective
Note: For this Discussion, you will choose one of the two case 

studies found in the Learning Resources. 

· Two important aspects of the ecological-developmental framework for services with children and families, explaining the framework’s relevance to social work practice. 

Then, identify two roles the social worker may perform at each of the three levels of social work practice (e.g., micro, mezzo, and macro). 

• Finally, explain one multi-level intervention strategy you would use with your chosen case at each of the three levels and why you chose this strategy. 

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