Social Services for Emotional/Behavioral Disorders
Cohen (1980) argues that services for families occur within a system of interrelated and interacting parts. The client and professional are in the foreground whenever service is provided. However, equally critical background components that impact on the provision of social services also exist. These components include (a) the technology underlying the service, (b) administrative and management personnel, (c) existing pattern of human services into which the new system is introduced, (d) political and economic conditions, and (e) the feedback among components within the system and the consequences of that feedback on system change. In addition, Cohen asserts that human services have an independent life cycle during which these five components change over time.
As a result of his analysis of the outcomes of early intervention practices, Bronfenbrenner (1975) coined the term "family-centered services" and recommended increased parent engagement in their children's early education. Dunst, Johanson, Trivette, and Hamby (1991) describe several different models for family-oriented programs:
- Professionally centered models, in which professionals are experts who determine child and family needs.
- Family-allied models, in which families are viewed as the agents of professionals and implement interventions that professionals design and determine.
- Family-focused models, in which families are seen as consumers of professional services.
- Family-centered models, in which professionals are instruments of families and professionals intervene in individualized, flexible, and responsive ways.
In their study of parents' assessment of the help-giving practices of professionals, Trivette, Dunst, Boyd, and Hamby (1995) reported that differences were found to be related to the program models and not parent or family characteristics. Parents' perceptions of the amount of control they felt they had over services were also related to the models and not to any parent or family characteristics.
In his discussion of families, Garbarino (1992) suggests that to be successful in raising healthy children families need at least seven things:
- Stable environment: when the environment is not stable children are likely to be neglected or abandoned.
- Security: when parents are threatened by violence, their capacity to nurture and protect children is weakened.
- Positive and involved time together.
- Active, caring community: isolation threatens the welfare of both parents and children.
- Justice: the greater the justice, the more likely it is that the fammily will receive the support it needs.
- Access to basic resources: the lack of food, housing, and health care places children in jeopardy.
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