You are a social worker who has been working for the Brickville Community Development Corporation (CDC) for three years. You facilitate a youth leadership development group, provide assessment and referrals for job training and employment, provide case management services, and convene a community safety committee.
The situation in Brickville, like much of social work practice, requires engagement, assessment, and intervention on multiple levels. It also presents some potential ethical dilemmas, both in terms of your personal positioning as someone with longstanding connection to some of the key stakeholders involved, as well as divergence between the interests of your employing organization and the competing demands and preferences of different client groups. Even within your youth leadership group, there are multiple perspectives on Brickville today and on the community’s proposed redevelopment. As you proceed with your involvement, you will need to use your practice skills, analytical understanding, and policy knowledge to work effectively across lines of difference, navigate conflict, and pursue solutions that advance social, racial, economic, and environmental justice.
You grew up in the greater Brickville area, attended high school in the suburbs, and left the region for college, where you studied social work. In addition to your professional role, you have a personal connection to the community situation because you went to high school with the children of the real estate developer. You personally feel torn about the redevelopment plan and are unclear about what is truly in the best interests of the community. However, you believe that the residents need to more fully realize their power to affect change in their community, and you recognize your professional obligation to center your clients in your consideration of the issues and to uphold your responsibility to the CDC where you work.
The youth leadership group you facilitate wants to engage in the debates over the redevelopment proposal. The youth leaders ask for your support to help them better understand the issues at stake, their implications for young people in the community, and the best ways to engage. While you have some concerns about how this project could generate conflicts with the CDC leadership—which is firmly in support of the redevelopment plan—your commitment to fostering the autonomy of the youth with whom you work leads you to move forward with them.
You are employed at the Brickville CDC, a 35-year-old multi-service nonprofit providing a comprehensive network of educational, vocational, and community development programs for residents of Brickville. The agency serves approximately 4,000 children, teens and adults through more than 40 programs. On-site and neighborhood-based social, educational, and career services include: Head Start; after-school and summer programs; literacy, ESL, GED, and college preparatory classes; work readiness services; an entrepreneurship incubator; homebuyer education classes and credit counseling; and family support programs. These services are funded by government grants and contributions from foundations, corporations, and individuals.
The mission of the Brickville CDC is to help individuals and families access academic, economic, and civic opportunities that enhance their ability to strengthen their neighborhoods, succeed at school and work, raise healthy families, and engage in their communities.
These core questions, specific to each client, will help you better understand and assess your client. Refer back to your answers throughout your assessment.
Review the community sociogram for Brickville to see sources of conflict and support