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Hearing the voice of child welfare social workers: planning safe care for a child with or suspected of having fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs)

William Christopher Curran (Department of Arts and Science, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada)
Matthew C. Danbrook (Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, McGill University, Montreal, Canada)

Advances in Dual Diagnosis

ISSN: 1757-0972

Article publication date: 6 January 2023

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Abstract

Purpose

In the early 1970s, clinical evidence emerged documenting causal links between prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) and children’s behaviors as observed by child welfare social workers (CWSWs). Unfortunately, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) remain on the margins of public health priorities. The purpose of this study was to elicit the views of child welfare social workers when responding to case of or suspected FASD.

Design/methodology/approach

A sample (N = 18) of CWSWs, allied health professionals and foster parents were interviewed.

Findings

Findings indicate that social workers struggle with their statutory duty to plan safe care for children with or suspected of having FASD. Emergent themes include struggling with advocacy, professional devaluation and lack of procedural guidance.

Practical implications

Social workers need a clear pathway and FASD knowledge to guide their interventions and enhance their capacity to advocate for affected children.

Originality/value

An abundance of research documents the direct effect of PAE on physical, cognitive and behavioral outcomes. However, few studies focus on the critical interface of children with an FASD entering public care and the social workers responsible for planning their safe care. This study sought to document social workers’ response to this vulnerable cohort of children.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by a 3-year fellowship funding from Concordia University, Montreal (INDI Department).

Citation

Curran, W.C. and Danbrook, M.C. (2023), "Hearing the voice of child welfare social workers: planning safe care for a child with or suspected of having fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs)", Advances in Dual Diagnosis, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/ADD-04-2022-0014

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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