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Social services

A controversial issue is whether or not social workers need to be of the same color and race to be effective in
working with clients and their problems. Numerous differing opinions and positions exist. Some claim it is
essential for blacks to work with blacks; others disagree and propose that individual problems and
competencies, not race, are the important factors.
Harper and Lantz view cross-cultural social work as both potentially damaging and useful. Those critical of
such practice voice concern that efforts by a majority person social worker, serving minorities, may be
directed towards, helping them to adjust to the status quo and keeping them satisfied with their impoverished
living condition.
Crities have pointed to a number of variables that become barriers to the helping relationship. These
variables include language differences, class-bound value differences between social worker and client.
While barriers to cross-culture practices exist, it is possible for social workers to accept and respect human
differences and similarities. Only by respecting the sameness of our common human needs and the
uniqueness of our different cultural methods of meeting those needs can a person begin to become a
competent cross-cultural social work practation.
Kadushin reports various studies indicating that social workers can cross color boundaries effectively
in some situations, although in others racial similarity is definitely advantage ous. He concludes:
although nonwhite workers may be necessary for nonwhite clients in some instances and
therapeutically desirable in others, white workers can work and have worked effectively with nonwhite
clients. They seem to say that although race is important, the nature of the interpersonal relationship
established between two people is more important than skin color and that although there are disadvantages
to racially mixed worker-client contacts, there are special advantages. Conversely, there are special
advantages to racial similarity and there are countervailing disadvantages. In other words, the problem is not
as clear-cut as might be supposed.
In providing services for and with persons of a different ethnicity, two factors seen to be particularly
important. One is the need for the workers to understand the difference, culturally and otherwise, that exist
and be accepting of these. The other is to be selective in regard to who does what; in other words, in working
with some individuals and problems it would be essential for the worker to be of the same race; in other
situation it might make no difference or could even be advantageous to have a worker of a different ethnic
group.

Social work services with minority populations.


Illustrative of cultural differences that need to be kept in mind are those listed by Locklear regarding the
American Indian:
1. Generosity is still the paramount virtue among most Indians .
2. Many Indians continue to hold the old concepts of time. For them , time is circular rather than
horizontal. Past, present, and future are all one .
3. For most Indians, work must be more than a steady job.
4. Family and interpersonal relationships have priority over all else.
5. The extended family system continues to operate in many tribes, thus providing an enlarged sphere
of family relationships as well as family responsibilities.
6. Many Indians are basically noncompetitive in their relationships to non- lndians.
Because of language barriers and cultural differences, it is maintained by many that Chicanos, for example,
should work with Chicanos. Others suggest that non-Chicanos may be just as effective if they understand the
cultural differences and have language skills. Mizio agrees that oftentimes a person of the same ethnic
origin may be most effective; then adds, but it is also true that some white workers can establish viable
working relationships with minority clients, some minority workers do not work well with minority clients,
and the majority of social workers are white.
Van Soest has suggested several seminal guidelines for social work practitioners who work in our
multicultural society. The guidelines are:

Honor each persons value, dignity and right to self-determination


Use effective communication, listening, empathy and negotiating skills.

Services with Minorities

Avoid attacking others and their views as a way of validating ones own position.
Recognize the pervasiveness of oppression in society and encourage examination of the residues of
racism, sexism and homophobia on both individual and organization levels
Maintain the interests and welfare of clients as the priority

In recent years, professionals have begun debating whether or not there are counseling principles and
techniques that are common to all cultures or principles and techniques that are unique to differing cultures
and need to be implemented. Fischer, John and Atkinson concluded that there needs to be a combination of
the two perspectives. Social workers and other helpers need to apply principles based on an understanding of
the individuals families or groups culture but that general principles also apply across all cultures. The four
common principles identified by these authors are:

Client-counselor relationship. Characteristics of warmth, genuineness and empathy as well as the


ability to put client as ease are essential to the success of any relationship
Shared world view. Refers to the beliefs about values and the reality which are held in common by
people of a particular group or culture. The helper needs to understand the clients world view and
treat it with respect
Expectation of positive outcome. This principle is concerned with the clients expectation about a
positive outcome from the helping relationship. The shared world view, the strength of the
relationship and the credibility of the helper contribute to raising the expectations of the client
Interventions. Cultures differ in the types of interventions which they will tolerate. Helpers need to
be sensitive and flexible to the differences and adapt accordingly. The intervention may not be as the
belief that it will be helpful.

Best Practices and Accepted Standarts in the Field


In spite of h wide dversity of early childhood programs, there is a well-documented consensus in the field as
to accepted standarts of quality and indicators of best practices. Here is short summary of these criteria,
which are based on the child development principles just listed.Best practices include the following:

Developmentally appropriate practices that are based on what is known about child development and
learning; what is known about the strengths, interest, and needs of each child; and what is known
about the socal and cultural context in which children live
Ample time for childrens choise making and hands-on learning iin appropriate settings in which
children actively explore, interact and experiment as they construct their own knowledge (new
knowledge is added to the base of knowledge which teachers, families, peers and other adults impart
to children)
Methods that support all areas of growth and development, including selfesteem, compentence,
healthy physical development, positive social emotional development, self-discipline, critical
thinking and reasoning , and other psychomotor nd cognitive skills
Respect and support of chldrens parents and families an a commitment to work in partnership with
parents, building positive relationships, and including parents in decision making about their
childrens caree and education