The reported cases of children with disabilities have been increasing for the past few years that particular attention must be given to this age group. Hence, there is a commensurate increasing need for a particular group of workers who can cater to the special needs of these children with disabilities—the social workers. Cynthia J. Weaver, an assistant professor of social work at Marywood University said that work with this highly vulnerable population requires specially-trained, compensated, and cared-for social workers. She further adds that the consistency and competency of the child welfare social worker is as critical as the advanced medical technology and new medications for the quality of care for this vulnerable position.
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Accordingly, children with disabilities “benefit when their parents are able to provide safe and loving environments. The vast majority of us raising children with special needs strive to do just that. But truth be told, the extra work involved in learning to decipher medical lingo and navigate social service agencies can be onerous -- and our kids risk not getting the assistance they need to flourish (Edelson, 2006),” Thus, the expertise of a social worker is needed to provide the children with the proper care inadvertently not given by the their parents or guardians.
Children with disabilities, sometimes, are neglected members of the society; they are abused or abandoned, some of them are seen with contempt because of their condition or disorder, while others are not given proper educational support for their full development as human beings. There is a social stigma attached with having a child with disability; this is one reason as to why more parents are abandoning their children.
It is provided that “the fragility and vulnerability of this population of children/adolescents require the utmost of our sensitivity, advocacy, expertise, and creativity (socialworktoday.com).” Hence, social workers are needed to work with these children because they have the knowledge and expertise to meet each child’s needs.
The general role of a social worker is described as working “with people experiencing crisis or people who are socially excluded. Their aim is to provide support to enable service users to help themselves. They maintain professional relationship with service users, acting as a guide, advocate or as a critical friend (prospects.ac.uk).” Some specific tasks that are undertaken by social workers in aid of children with disabilities are making assessments on the situation of a particular child and giving recommendations on the best remedies or alternatives to ease the demeaning conditions of life surrounding the child with the disability.
Parental care and protection are not enough to provide a better life for a child with disability; a social worker’s training and experience complements this insufficiency. In view of this, social workers who are trained “understand the challenges that face families of children/adolescents with special needs and assist them in securing resources and in communication their needs (socialworktoday.com).” Understanding all the circumstances surrounding a child with disability will enable an individual to identify the specific needs of the child for his/her full development and the eventual integration of the child into the society living. A social worker helps the child live a normal life in a society often convoluted with a mixture of biases, incorrect opinions and prejudices. The need for social workers to work with children with disabilities has become apparent lately because society has learned now to understand that these children have something to offer for the whole community’s benefit.
The work of a social worker advocates social justice and fairness. For that reason, they are needed to work with children with disabilities in order to live a normal life. These children should be given a chance to mingle with people considered as “normal,” and their skills and capabilities should be harnessed so that these children can discover their real worth in the society. In an academic setting, these children are segregated into specialized classes because they usually cannot cope with the ramification of normal school life; however, “school social workers provide a link between home, school, and community. This service enables students and their families to overcome social and personal problems which impede learning. School social workers provide individual and group counseling, consultation to professionals, and other services which help students cope with their disabilities (aasep.org).”
There is always a need for social workers to work with children with disabilities. It is a fact that “the nature of social work can be both emotionally rewarding and demanding. Work within the profession can be stressful; working conditions are often under-resourced and heavy-case loads are common (prospects.ac.uk),” nevertheless, they are indispensable in a society where neglect and abandonment exist as an alternative to the burden of raising a mentally retarded child or one with a physical frailty. Empathy is one of their biggest emotional asset; they are always ready to lend a hand when someone is in need or give proper service to address an individual’s problem.
Social workers are always needed to work with children with disabilities. It is a fact, and always will be.
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