You are on page 1of 6

Social Work

Ethical and Legal Issues


Meagan Snively

This is my midterm paper for Law and Ethics of Working with Children in which I
will discuss social work as a career as well as the ethical and funding issues within
the profession.

Ethical and Funding Issues in Social Work

Currently I am trying to turn volunteering into a career and figuring out how to get there.
So, for this paper I am going to focus on social work for my chosen profession. Social work is as
defined by Merriam dictionary as the work done by someone who works for a government or
private organization that helps people who have financial or family problems. Most people
work in Child Protective Services but they can also work in health clinics, in schools or social
services, which is what I want to do.
Even though social work is a low paying job, I believe that the internal rewards are worth
it. Back in 9th grade I was at a church camp and I really wanted to be able to see what is wrong
in the world and to help make a change. Ill never forget that day because later that night I
learned about sex trafficking and it struck a deep compassion in me. I then spent my high school
years advocating for an organization called Not For Sale. At the end of my freshman year here at
Eastern, a new passion was instilled in me which was childhood cancer. Im not going to lie, I
havent done as much advocating for Childhood Cancer as I did for sex trafficking but that
doesnt change my passion level. A theme between these two is my love for children, one thing
that both have in common is the fact because of these two problems, children lose their
childhood. This strikes deep in my heart because every single child deserves to have a childhood
no matter who they are or where they come from. My goal in life is to shine that light so even if
they are going through something rough.
Thinking about the future and where I want to be, I know that I want to spend some time
in New York, more specifically in Kings County. The New York State Community Action
Association (2015) says the average poverty rate for children under the age of 18 in New York
State is 22.7%, while Kings County is 33.9% which is the second highest county in the state next
to Bronx County. The reason I bring up this number is because when a child is in poverty it

Ethical and Funding Issues in Social Work

affects the childs access to food, clothing or shelter and if that isnt enough, these children may
become bullied or go to school hungry during the day. Since they are dependent on others, they
have no way to change this for themselves and Brooks (1997) says that 15% of children stay in
poverty for 10 years or more. Children should not be living a life like this. So what does New
York have to do with my paper? I am going to discover the requirements to be a social worker in
New York State as well as some issues within the profession.
To be in the social work profession in New York, there are a few different guidelines but
generally to be a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), you first off need to have good
morals which are determined by the department. When I first read that I thought that was really
cool but the more I thought about it, I began to question: what is their definition of having a
moral character? This is definitely a weakness because are so many different opinions on this so
I tried to do more research on this by looking at Article 154 in the Education Law but that didnt
explain it anymore. Also, a person looking to become a LMSW will need masters in social work
with at least 12 hours of clinical courses. However, if a person got their degree in social work but
didnt do the core curriculum or they got an equivalent degree, there is the opportunity to take
other graduate level coursework. I think this is awesome because it gives people who have the
passion another opportunity to be in the profession. Another key requirement they have is to have
experience for three full years outside of graduation. This seems like a lot but when you think
about it that is super important to have that experience under your belt to be prepared for
different situations a person may come across. To many people, these requirements seem extreme
but like I said before, I believe that these are set in place for a reason because there are some
situations that people may need to be very experienced in social work to handle these.

Ethical and Funding Issues in Social Work

Ethical issues within social work are very prevalent. Reamer (2005) says that there are a
lot of different ethical issues but the bottom line is the matters of right and wrong as well as the
duties they are required of. Most social workers believe in the core values of the profession but
some social workers argue about the way these values are applied. Sometimes they bend the
rules for better care, it is stated that often times the legal standards conflict with the ethical
beliefs of some professions. Some professionals might bend the rules to protect a client. An
example stated in the article was if a social worker met with a teen mom and noticed the baby
has lost some weight. The social worker would ask what was going on, to find out the mother has
relapsed but has begged the social worker not to report her since she was just going through a
hard time in her recovery. From here the social worker has the decision, notice the mothers plea
to not be reported as a starting point for her recovery or to report the mother which is required by
law to do. Just within this example there are so many ethical issues that could be brought up. If
the social worker didnt tell someone, from my stand point I then think of the child. Is it ethically
right to look past a mothers problem and continue letting the child live in an environment where
they could possibly not be fed? Even though the mother did beg and seem like she wanted to
change, how would they really know if she did? I would hope that if someone did let this pass,
they would also set guidelines and a plan to help this mother success in her goals to be free of
whatever was holding her back. Just with this one example, we can see how much ethics are
involved in social work.
Funding is another huge issues within social work and we can see affect in the amount of
social services having to make cuts. I found an article that discusses the Federal Spending
Budget in 2012 and the spending plan that the Republican-Led House Appropriations Committee
proposed. Nonprofits rely on federal funding and with this spending plan; $100-billion dollars

Ethical and Funding Issues in Social Work

would be cut. They said that if it went through, the AmeriCore program would be gone as well as
programs like HeadStart and other like services for low income families would have drastic cuts.
Luckily Obama vetoed the plan but at the same time it doesnt mean that funding are in the green
now. Even though Obama did want to actually add money for social services by a lot, it didnt
necessarily work that way. There are more than one thousand community antipoverty agencies
that receive money from the Community Service Block Grant, not only was Obama proposing to
cut the grant in half but only planned to give money to the highest performing groups, instead of
where the need is at most. I can understand from a business perspective that you would want to
give money to the organizations that are successful. But in my mind, what if they are successful
because they do have the correct amount of funding. Those who may be struggling might benefit
a lot from an increase in federal funding. The last cut that was discussed has an effect on the
AmeriCore program and enabling its growth. It was proposed to only give $126-billion dollars;
AmeriCore positions are set in place to help strengthen communities and organizations because
of this cut, the program would not be diminished like the other spending plan but they wouldnt
be able to grow either (Perry, 2011). Even though these budget plans may or may not have gone
through, its the fact that there was a plan put to make major cuts. Social service will always have
problems with funding because not a hundred percent of funding comes from one source.
From this research and reflection on these different issues I have learned that social work
has a lot of adversity. There is always going to be problems within the profession, whether
bending the rules to protect someone or not having enough money to fund programs. In the
perfect society this would change but that isnt where we are today or where we will ever be. But
what I can do as a social worker is try my hardest to personally smooth out those rough edges as
much as I have the resources to do.

Ethical and Funding Issues in Social Work

References
Brooks-Gunn, J & Duncan, G. (1997). The effects of poverty on children. The Future
of Children, 7 (2). Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1602387?
seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
New York State Community Action Association. (2015). New York State Poverty
Report. Retrieved from http://nyscommunityaction.org/wpcontent/uploads/2014/03/2015-Poverty-Report-w-50th-logos-for-online.pdf
New York State Education Department. Education law. Article 154, Social Work
section 7704. Retrieved from http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/sw/article154.htm
Perry, S. (2011). Nonprofits Gird for Battle on Federal Spending. Chronicle Of
Philanthropy, 23(7). Retrieved from
http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.library.ewu.edu/ehost/detail/detail?
sid=fea1f628-c551-46c1-9e6577770153cdc7%40sessionmgr112&vid=0&hid=101&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc
3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#AN=59152520&db=a9h
Reamer, F. (2005). Ethical and legal standards in social work: consistency and
conflict. Families in Society. Retrieved from
http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.ewu.edu/pqcentral/docview/23017
8463/8B9472219A5947DDPQ/4?accountid=7305
The National Association of Social Workers. Choose the profession. Retrieved from
http://careers.socialworkers.org/explore/choose.asp