Phase 2


As in all social work practice, assessments play a critical role in determining what activities are planned in a psychosocial response to a disaster. Before planning can begin, it is necessary to find out what has happened and how people have been affected. Then, assessments inform evaluation activities. The kind of data that is collected in assessments depends on the context and the nature of the crisis that is being responded to. It also depends on when in the response the assessment is taking place. Information needed in the initiation phases of a response differs from information needed later or at the end of the response.

Dual assessments help social workers to look simultaneously at the needs of the individuals/groups/communities being served and the policies that are either hindering or facilitating people’s pursuit of their goals. As you consider your clients’ experiences and outcomes, perform a dual assessment to examine policies that might drive any disparate impacts you observe—for your clients or other groups of clients. You are looking for patterns indicating that current policies and programs are failing. As you assess the immediate needs in the aftermath of the disaster, also keep an eye on how the community can work to reduce vulnerability in future.

In social work, assessment includes not only examination of needs and the forces shaping them, but also recognition of strengths present, on which later intervention can build. For example, in Hudson City, are there natural community leaders in the population receiving and giving help? How could these assets be leveraged to aid the community’s recovery? How might these entities engage in advocacy to equitably prepare for future outcomes?

An assessment is a multidimensional examination of the client system. Different problems and theoretical perspectives call for different assessment strategies. However, generally, during the assessment phase a social worker should:

1. Assess the strengths that a system possesses as well as the problems.

It is the strengths that are ultimately called into play to remove barriers to achieving the goal.

2. Assess the environmental context.

Understanding the relationships and resources of the system within its environment, including those that need to be developed, is necessary for developing an intervention plan. Assessment is an on-going and continually developing process. What sources of information will be most important for your assessment of the dynamic environment of Hudson City, in this post-disaster period?

3. Strive for transparency.

Assessment is a shared process. Both the client system and the worker should be clear and in agreement on assessment methods, the system short-term and long-term goals, and the means of attaining those goals.

4. Develop a plan for changing that which requires changing.

The assessment should set the stage for intervention planning, including both short-and long-term goals.

Mapping A Social Problem

Review and take notes on the phases of disasters and their effects on communities

Go to diagram

My Assess Tasks

Task 1

Consider the processes by which you could assess conditions in Hudson City, to inform your intervention. What questions do you have about the community’s current status and how individuals are affected? With whom would you want to talk? What methods would serve you well in your assessment?

Task 2

Use the sociogram to better understand the entities in the community and their interactions and the BioPsychoSocial Perspectives Overview to prompt your thinking about the Hudson City case from different angles.

Task 3

Review the NASW Code of Ethics. Pay particular attention to the guidance on dual relationships and your commitment to clients. What is important for you to consider as you navigate your roles as a resident and social worker in Hudson City? What conflicts do you anticipate, and how could you prepare to manage them?