chapter  7
40 Pages

Social Work Practice with Families: Intervention, Termination, and Evaluation

Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz, in We Speak in Code: Poems & Other Writings , 1980

(1) What competencies do I need to intervene with families? (EPAS 2.1.10(c)) (2) What are the social work practice behaviors that enable me to effectively inter-

vene with families? (EPAS 2.1.10(c)) (3) How can I engage in research-informed practice and practice-informed research

to guide the processes of intervention, termination, and evaluation with fam ilies? (EPAS 1.2.6)

(4) What potential ethical dilemmas might I expect to occur in intervening with families? (EPAS 2.1.2)

S OCIAL WORKERS HAVE A LONGSTANDING HISTORY OF intervening in family situations and crises. Dating to the era of Mary Richmond and the Charity Organization Society, and Jane Addams and the Settlement House movements, social workers have focused on intervening with families (Logan et al., 2008). Just as social work practitioners respond to societal changes, social workers have also adapted their practice behaviors, including knowledge, skills, and values, to the developmental

stages of families or changing structure of families. While families are generally selfsuffi cient in meeting their ongoing fi nancial, emotional, and caregiving needs, when they seek help outside the family, they require a response that is developed for that family’s needs (Briar-Lawson & Naccarato, 2008). Family social work interventions require competencies to address the complexities of the contemporary family, which may include culture, racial and ethnic diversity, fi nancial and legal challenges, and intergenerational relationships and dynamics. Different from family therapy, family social work is an approach based on generalist social work skills for intervening with families who are at-risk. Family social work assumes the intervention is familycentered, and support can be provided in the family’s home or in the social worker’s offi ce and in times of crisis (Collins, Jordan, & Coleman, 2013). Family social work practice interventions may be focused on: (1) reinforcing family strengths to prepare families for long-term change, such as a member arriving, leaving, needing care, or dying; (2) creating concrete changes in family functioning to sustain effective and satisfying daily routines independent of formal helpers; (3) providing additional support to family therapy so families will maintain effective family functioning; and/or (4) addressing crises in a timely way to enable the family to focus on longerterm concerns (Collins et al., 2013, p. 3).