The Sanchez Family

The Sanchez Family

The Sanchez family is a large extended family living in a largely Latinx community in the Midwest. You are their social worker, having just been hired at the local social service agency where Mrs. Sanchez sought assistance in her search for health care for her nephew. You begin your work building a relationship with Mrs. Sanchez, who is already known to some of your coworkers, at least vaguely, due to her membership in the Catholic Church and the family’s participation, at earlier points, in some of the recreation and community activities the organization facilitates. Now, your job is to provide a psychosocial assessment, develop a case plan, and then execute that plan. This is a complex case that will require you to apply everything you are learning in your social work program! To get started, begin where all social work begins—by learning more about those you’ll be serving.

Start this case

For Instructors

The Sanchez Family

This case illustrates the concept of systems theory and helps students approach the phases of the helping process with a particular family whose experiences are shaped by their cultural identities, community context, and policy landscape. Students exploring this case will gain a glimpse into the complexity of families and the ethics, values, and skills of anti-racist social work practice. While instructors should emphasize that all cases necessarily incorporate composite sketches of multidimensional individuals and their intersecting social identities, you can trust that this case was carefully drawn from deep practice experience in Latinx communities and among mixed-status Latinx households. Instructors have successfully used the Sanchez Family case in practice classes, to introduce social work as a broad and nimble profession, and in policy study, where students can consider reforms that would better meet the needs of the members of the Sanchez family. The elements layered into the case, including the photos of members of the Sanchez family, map of their community, ecomap (to which students are encouraged, at multiple points, to add additional resources), and family genogram, help students to immerse themselves in the case, thereby transcending a mere ‘scenario’, as a vehicle for transformative teaching.

To round out the materials provided in the case, you are encouraged to use the case to catalyze other discussions with your students as well. For example:

  1. How does the town map highlight the importance of geography to social work?
  2. How is the genogram helpful? How might different members of the Sanchez family view their family system differently?
  3. As they work the case, what are the ethical issues that arise?
  4. How would approaching the Sanchez family from an explicitly anti-racist perspective change the practice experience?
  5. How will/did they measure success?
  6. How might the social worker’s own identities affect the experience of working with the Sanchez family? What lessons can students pull from these insights to inform their work with other clients?
  7. How did working this case increase their understanding of the biopsychosocial/spiritual underpinnings of practice?

My Goals For This Case



Become acquainted with the individual members of the family and learn about the family's dynamics.



Learn how the larger social environment—culture, social policy, and social forces—affects their individual lives.



Develop your problem-solving skills through a four-phase interventive process: Engage, Assess, Intervene, and Evaluate.