The reform of the child care system as a challenge for the professionalism of social workers: what indicates a need for supervision and intervision?
This article analyses the challenge to the professionalism of social workers in the context of the reform of the child care system in Lithuania, and emphasises the need for supervision and social work intervention. The research was carried out in 2019 using criterion sampling; 9 social workers who provide services in the child care system were involved in the research, and semi-structured interviews were performed. Thematic content analysis was applied for data analysis using inductive logic of data systematisation. The new regulations regarding child care and protection of the rights of the child had brought many substantial changes to the professional activities of the social worker and raised great challenges to their professionalism. New duties, functions and roles for social workers also increased uncertainties and tensions. Research participants indicated the lack of explanation both of new regulations and of recommendations about their implementation. Consequently, social workers faced difficulties in exercising their professional responsibilities. In the context of the lack of cooperation between responsible institutions, questions have arisen regarding social workers’ professional accountability and responsibility for their work and the work of other professionals in the system . Because of the lack of services for children and families, including the lack of accessibility to existing services, social workers experience the feeling of being professionally disempowered. Clients and society had been negatively influenced and the work of social workers has been impeded by the lack of information about the process of the reform and the lack of clarity of information. The research uncovered the need for supervision and intervention as reflective consultative practice in the professional environment. The current changes in the child care system in Lithuania have strengthened the peculiarities of the professional activities of social workers: coordination of different functions, construction of a social reality based on different perspectives of different professionals, lack of information about the process of the reform that creates conflict with the client system, a challenging quest for responses relevant to a specific client’s situation. These professional challenges, discovered by the research, demonstrate the need for a reflective consultative culture inside and outside of organisations when looking for inter-institutional cooperation. The question arises about the promotion of reflective consultative practice in the professional environment of social work.
Keywords: care of child, system, social work, professionalism, reflection, supervision, intervention.