paper on human service professionals
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Karen is a 30 year old woman who is a single mom of three children. Her children are Frank (12 years
old) Kristine (10) and Tara (8). Her husband left her 7 years ago. She has no idea where he is and he has
not supplied any child support since he left. She struggled financially all this time while she worked two
jobs to support her kids.
Two years ago Karen met Charlie and they fell in love. He treated her children as if they were his own
and the kids seem to really like Charlie. He asked her to move in with him and she did. She was able to
quit her jobs because Charlie supports them. It has been a dream come true for Karen.
Last week Charlie came home after meeting 2 friends for a few beers after work. They stayed out late
and Charlie was quite inebriated. He became angry because his dinner wasn’t hot and Karen was already
in bed. He started shouting and called her a lazy, freeloading slut. He dragged her out of bed by her hair
and started kicking and punching her. He was quite loud and the fighting woke up the children. The 8
year old Tara was crying and the 12 year old Frank tried to stop Charlie from hurting Karen any further.
When Frank stepped in Charlie hit him by mistake and gave him a black eye. Charlie immediately
stopped fighting, started crying and apologizing for being so drunk and mean and vowed never to do it
Karen kept Frank home from school the next few days, but sent the two girls. When Frank’s teacher
(Mrs Cook) noticed Kristine in the hallway she asked if Frank was ok because he had missed several days
of classes. Kristine told the teacher what had happened.
Mrs Cook was a mandated reporter and called the Department of Children and Families (DCF) who
started an investigation. Both of the girls were interviewed at school and an investigator was sent to the
house to talk with Frank and Karen. By the end of the day the three children were taken from the home
and placed in foster care, Charlie was arrested for child abuse and Karen was charged with failure to
protect her children.
Today Karen has now come to your nonprofit agency, where you work as an advocate. She is seeking
assistance and is crying. She has been told that by law the State does not need to hold a hearing to take
away her children and it may be 60 days before they have to prove they have reasonable evidence.
Your agency is funded by the State and the grant stipulates that you cannot help anyone who has been
charged with a family violence crime. Karen is being investigated for failure to protect and therefore
cannot receive assistance, even though she has been a victim as well. After consulting with your boss,
the boss says that your agency must follow the regulations of the grant funding.
Karen is torn because she believes Charlie will never do this again, but she wants her children back
desperately. She does not know what to do. She no longer has any of her own money for an attorney or
a new place to live. She does not understand any of the legal ramifications, has no money and nowhere
to turn. If she leaves Charlie she and the kids will be homeless. If she stays she will lose her kids.
Answer all these questions:
Summarize the case.
Identify the problem.
What do you see as the ethical dilemma in this case?
As a human service worker, how is Karen’s case an ethical dilemma for you?
Who or what is creating the problem, you, the client, the legal system or the funding
Apply the Ethical Standards for Human Service Professionals.
Which Ethical Standards apply to this case?
What course(s) of action are indicated by the Ethical Standards and may help lead to a
resolution of the problem?
Determine the nature and dimensions of the dilemma.
Consider the moral principles of autonomy, non-maleficence, beneficence,
justice, and fidelity and veracity.
Which principles apply to this situation?
Which principle(s) takes priority for you in this case?
What course(s) of action might you take?
What might be the consequences of your actions?
What are the implications of this action for Karen?
What are the implications of this action for you?
What are the implications of this action for your agency?
What are the implications of this action for the legal system and/or funding source?
Evaluate your selected course of action.
Is it fair to all concerned?
Would others approve of your actions?
Would recommend the same course of action to another human service worker
in the same situation?
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