Social Work Ethics

Social Work
copyright 2012 Monica
Social worker and lawyers
professional licensing rules
 Consequences
for ethical violations
Suspension of license
Disbarment or revocation of license
Conditions placed on license
 Attend
chemical dependency counseling
 Practice under supervision of another
Social Workers Code of Ethics
 Minnesota
Rules 8740 et. Seq.
 How do the code of ethics in the
Minnesota Rules differ from the NASW
Code of Ethics?
Ethics Analysis
question in the
ethics analysis is
is your client?
 Mary,
your client has Lou Gehrig’s Disease
(ALS). Mary is thirty-five years old and lives
at home with her boyfriend, Frank. Frank
is verbally abusive to her and is verbally
abusive to Mary’s personal care
attendants. Mary wants to stay home.
Many times she has gone without
personal care attendants because of
Frank’s verbal abuse. Mary says Frank
takes care of her. You have noticed that
Frank is not taking very good care of
What are the social worker’s ethical issues?
What are Mary’s lawyers ethical issues?
Minn. Rule 8730.0310, subpart 1
 “A
social worker’s primary professional
responsibility is to the client. A social
workers shall always act to protect or
preserve the client’s interests. Including
the interest in self-determination, when
making decisions that affect a client.”
Mary’s Lawyers Ethical
 Minnesota
Rules of Professional
Responsibility 1.2
 “A lawyer shall abide by the client’s
decisions concerning the objectives of
 The lawyer is not a mandated reporter.
 The lawyer must provide Mary legal
counseling regarding her options.
 Beth
is eleven-years old. She has been in
foster care for eight months. Beth’s
mother is an alcoholic with bipolar
disorder. For years, Beth endured chaotic
and dangerous times while living at home.
About eight months ago, Beth told her
school social worker what was happening
at home. Child protection intervened
and filed a CHIPS petition. Beth’s mother,
Mary has finished her inpatient chemical
treatment program. She is also taking her
medication for her bipolar disorder.
 Beth
wants to go home because she
misses her mother. The child protection
worker believes her mother is in a fragile
state of recovery and does not want Beth
to go home at this time. Beth told her
lawyer that she wants to go home as soon
as possible?
What are the social worker’s ethical issues?
What are the lawyer’s ethical issues?
Social Worker’s Ethical Issues
 Who
is the client?
 Best interests versus self determination
 Minn. Rules 8740.0310, subpart
Social Worker’s Ethical Issue
 Who
is your client Beth or the
county agency?
 Beth
does not want to go home
 CPS worker does not want Beth to go
home, but CPS worker’s supervisor insists
that Beth go home because of the
county budget.
Beth’s Lawyer’s Ethical Issues
 Must
follow client direction.
 Beth’s lawyer has to advocate for what
Beth wants.
Ann, a county social worker, works in the
adoption unit. Nathan, her client is a happy
child; however, Ann has noticed that he has
the characteristics of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum
Disorder. Currently, Nathan has not been
assessed for this. In the case notes, a former
social worker indicated that Nathan’s mother
drank alcohol while she was pregnant. Ann is
concerned that if he is FASD that he will not
likely be adopted. Ann is not going to get
him assessed. Ann is not going to tell the preadoptive parents that Nathan may have
Social Worker’s Ethical Issues
 What
are Ann’s ethical obligations to
 What are the risks of not having Nathan
 What
is in Nathan’s best interests?
 How could he be harmed by not having
an assessment?
 Minn. Rules 8740.0320 subpt. 1 “ A social
worker shall base treatment and
intervention services on an assessment or
diagnosis. A social worker shall evaluate,
on an ongoing basis, the appropriateness
of the assessment or diagnosis?”
 Subpart 5. “ A social worker shall make
and maintain current and accurate
Attorney’s Advice
The county attorney should be concerned
about a Wrongful Adoption litigation in the
The adoptive family is entitled to full
Nathan is entitled to his full Adoption Subsidy,
other benefits and services
“ A lawyer shall not counsel a client to
engage, or assist a client in conduct the
lawyers knows is criminal or fraudulent….”
MPR Rule 1.2
 Billy,
a fifteen-year old young man, told
Molly, his school social worker that he is
being physically abused by his mother,
Susan and Gene, his mother’s boyfriend.
Bill told his mother that he is gay. Susan
and Gene asked Billy to leave home. Billy
is an honor student. He has no family or
friends to help him. Molly made a report
to child protection. The child protection
worker told Molly that Bill is too old for this
to be a report. The CPS worker will not
take the report. The CPS worker is a
licensed social worker and believes that
this policy is contrary to state law
 The
CPS worker is a single mother and is
afraid of losing her job. Her supervisors tell
her this the policy.
Social Worker’s Ethical Issues
 Minn.
Rules 8740.0310 subpt. 1 “ A social
worker’s primary professional responsibility
is to the client.”
Billy’s lawyer
 Would
discuss Billy’s legal options with him
File private CHIPS petition
Find family member to file for Third Party
Legal Custody
Order for Protection
 Sam
is a veteran who suffers from Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder and some
paranoia. He recently denied veterans’
benefits. He told his social worker, “ I am
going to get those guys. They will be sorry
they did this to me. I learned a lot of
thinks in the war that I can use on them. I
have a right to get these benefits.”
Social Worker’s Ethical Issues
 Duty
to Warn
Minn. Rules 8740.0330 subpart 2
Client communicates
 Specific,
serious threat of physical violence
 Against a clearly identifiable individual
 Or against client’s self or against society in
Duty to Warn continued
 “The
social worker shall release this
information to law enforcement and other
appropriate authorities and to the
potential victim, or as appropriate, to the
victim’s legal representative.”
Minn. Rules 8740.0330, subpart 5
 Marie
is a social worker for a county child
protection agency. She is a licensed
social worker. Marie supervises eight
social workers. Four of the social workers
are licensed. (In this state, county social
workers do not have to be licensed.)
 Marie notices that Henry one of the
unlicensed social workers is not
competent. He recently missed an
important issue in a case which put the
child at great risk. Marie decides to test
Henry on basic social worker principles.
He fails the test.
Social Worker’s Ethical Issues
A social worker shall not delegate a
responsibility or assign a task to another
individual when the social worker knows
or reasonably should know that the other
individual is not licensed or competent to
assume the responsibility or to perform the
task.” Minn. Rules 8740.0315 subpart 5

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