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Home > Arhiva > 2019 > Numar: 4 > Editorial: The Challenges of Social Work Practice

 Editorial: The Challenges of Social Work Practice

    by:
  • Nicoleta Neamţu („Babeş-Bolyai” University Cluj-Napoca, Sociology and Social Work Faculty, B-dul 21 Decembrie 1989, No.128, 400604 Cluj-Napoca, Romania, Tel: + 40-264-424674, E-mail: ncneamtu10@yahoo.com or ncneamtu@socasis.ubbcluj.ro)
  • Mădălina Hideg (Babeş-Bolyai University, Faculty of Sociologyand Social Work, 128 ‘21 Decembrie 1989’ Blvd., Cluj-Napoca, Romania. E-mail: madalina.hideg@gmail.com)


Social work practice is known as professionally guided intervention designed to bring planned change in: persons, families, groups, organizations/ institutions, communities and social public policies and to promote social justice. The contributions included in this issue analyze and evaluate different aspects of macro or indirect practice and direct practice in the social work field.

In their paper, “The Grand Challenges as a Macro Practice Approach for Social Workers to Address Societal Problems”, Elisabeth Lightfoot and Jessica Toft deeply understood a very sensitive aspect of the activity performed by social workers: their work is not enough valued and acknowledged at the level of the macro practice, mainly because there are not so many professionals working in the field. The professionals are overloaded with lots of work at the micro and mezzo level social interventions, but they are less implied at the macro level. The educational system could be partially blamed for this situation, but the public awareness on this issue can be easily raised by adopting the grand challenges approach, at the public institutional level. Professionals, civil society and public institutions should set together a list of priorities in the social work field, so that attention and efforts could be drawn to solving mainly these societal issues, and thus the society overall becomes more aware of the importance of the social workers’ intervention at the macro level of practice. This approach was successfully implemented in other domains such as technically science, but the approach is new in the field of social work. By now, the United States succeeded in doing this, and their model is transferable to other states too, depending only on the public will of establishing a short list of core macro social problems.

Codrina Csesznek and Marinela Șimon conducted an exploratory study about the main challenges encountered by the social services workers-qualified social workers and civil servants - as employees of local public administration /councils from the Brasov county, such as: stress, bureaucracy, insufficient recognition of their work, confined spaces, low salaries, heavy caseload and workload and the difficult relationship with a certain category of clients. The authors found out that the social services workers were mainly women, without specific studies in the field, with an emotional and relational type of professional satisfaction, that are talking about job satisfaction in terms of meeting basic needs, such as an adequate workplace, enough means of transportation for fieldwork and enough employees in the field to cover the heavy caseload. The social services workers don’t report their cases through an informatic system, but they definitely need a specialized informatic programme for this. The results of their research show some issues of the managerial practice in social work, mainly the need for human and financial resource development, and combined efforts at the institutional and individual level of action, for better outcomes.

Some aspects of the social problems analysis and social work macro practice at social public policy level of intervention are highlighted by Gheorghița Nistor. The author stated that an empirical research was starting point for defining a list of proposals for diminishing the effects of alcohol consumption, both at the legislative level and at the medical and social level as well. The problem of alcohol addiction generates negative effects both at the individual and at the society itself. This is why a clear assessment of the needs of the community, measures aimed at the legislative proposals, action at medical and social level, educational training or awareness of medium and long term risks, all of them represent adequate response to fight against and prevent this addiction. The innovation comes from the ability of finding the best options.

The effectiveness of macro and direct social work practice in the child protection system is the focused of the study elaborated by Anca Ionela Mureşan. More specific, her paper addresses through a qualitative research design, the success indicators regarding the socio-professional integration for a group of young people who have left the child protection system from Romania during 1976-2018. The outcomes of the evaluation mention both successes and failures among the young people who were included in the research sample (25 subjects); some of them are still dependent on the services and social benefits provided by the state. However, the results of the research prove an extraordinary resilience among the young people who spent their childhood and adolescence in residential child protection units in Romania, despite traumas and abuses that they went through. The article emphasizes through a variety of examples the power of "children stuck in care" to transform the risk factors they were subjected to, in future success indicators. The author recommends a systematic preparation, using a child-centered approach, to plan for the medium and long-term goals is the preparation of the young person's transition from the institutional care system to the independent life.

Related with child protection issues, bullying amongst learners in the school setting needs social work intervention at different levels of practice, in order to be effective. Taking into account its multifactorial etiology, the paper of Alecsandra Irimie-Ana, Poliana Ștefănescu and Luminița Mihai try to respond to the question “About bullying – should we focus on the family or school?”. The authors recognize that bullying is a complex phenomenon, which is not enough explored in the Romanian society, although we are fighting with its effects. Designing an exploratory study with people that were on high school between 1987 and 1993, the authors researched the relationship between bullying on the one side, and family and the sibship structure, on the other side. The verbal aggression was the most common form of bullying experienced by these people. On this case, contrary to the literature review, the authors couldn’t establish a causal relation between bullying and sibship/ family, but the subject is still opened to further research.

Including social workers in the educational teams from schools is an innovative approach to education, already implemented in 50 countries that are members of the International Network for School Social Work. Practice models, roles and professional standards of school social work are described and analyzed by Ramona Pura, in the global and actual European context. The author gives relevant examples from contrasting educational systems (Finland, England, Hungary, Romania). Pupils could experience discrimination and marginalization because of the poverty, disability or of other personal or social problems, and this could affect their behavioral patterns as groups. Romania should implement such a model, as well, as our inclusive educational system can create exclusive behaviors.

The results of the phenomenon of migration on parents and children could also benefit from the intervention of school social workers. Using a qualitative research design, Remus Runcan and Nicoleta Grămadă presents, in a narrative report, the most important aspects shared by the participants of their study regarding the effects of migration from Eastern Europe to Western Europe. Daughters left behind by mothers that went to work abroad have serious scars on their soul, that transfer to their behaviour. They may experience school dropout, bad companions, rejection of their parents, depression or even suicide. On the other hand, mothers feel guilty about leaving them behind, although they left home for offering a better life to their daughters. This study gives us a perspective on the effects of the migration phenomenon at a micro level.

Children’s outlook on violence and help is documented by Corina Voicu in her social investigation. The main aim of the author’s research was to reveal children’s vision on violence, both from the perspective of help request and of the profile of the person offering help. Children claim the adults mainly to listen to them, to take them seriously, to trust their judgment in taking action if anything happens to them. They must completely trust the adults and not to be afraid of them in order to require for help if they experience any violence. When deciding not to testify against their aggressor, children also fear that the situation could get worse and that the aggressor might find out about the testimony. These were the main findings of a study conducted on children aged 9 to 18, together with a profile of the one they expect to help them. The innovative perspective on violence on children is that first of all, one must consider children’s perspective in order to have an eagle’s eye point of view on this issue.

In the actual international politic, economic, demographic and technical context, there is an increasing need for innovation in social services, in order that desiderata like social justice and inclusion to become a way of being. The interdisciplinary collaboration between social workers and other professionals is one of the solutions to improve the quality of services and the quality of life for the clients/ users.

Guest Editors,
Nicoleta Neamţu
Mădălina Hideg