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Steps for Ethical Decision Making in School Social Work. Kathy Lombardi, MSW, LICSW Lead School Social Worker, St. Paul Public Schools Kathy.lombardi@spps.org November 1, 2012. Introduction. The ever increasing demands of our jobs may overshadow our ability to make thoughtful decisions

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steps for ethical decision making in school social work

Steps for Ethical Decision Making in School Social Work

Kathy Lombardi, MSW, LICSW

Lead School Social Worker, St. Paul Public Schools

Kathy.lombardi@spps.org

November 1, 2012

introduction
Introduction
  • The ever increasing demands of our jobs may overshadow our ability to make thoughtful decisions
  • Daily we make decisions that involve matters of values, ethics
  • At times, we are expected to make these decisions quickly
introduction1
Introduction
  • Think about how you could utilize a set of steps to think through a dilemma
  • Taking the time to think through and document a decision will prepare you to justify your actions
  • This is very important, if and when, your decisions or actions ever come into questions
ethical dilemmas
Ethical Dilemmas
  • Competing laws and values
  • Deciding between two or more undesired outcomes for clients and others impacted
  • Not always a right or wrong decision\
  • Require professional judgement
step 1 gather additional background info and assess the case details
STEP 1: Gather Additional Background Info and Assess the Case Details
  • Identify the stakeholders
  • Who has a vested interest in the outcome
  • Is all the information true and verifiable
step 2 separate practice considerations from the ethical aspects of the case
Step 2: Separate Practice Considerations from the Ethical Aspects of the Case
  • Gray areas
  • Legal duties may differ from moral responsibilities
  • For example: duty to warn
  • Who is the client
    • Student
    • Family
    • Teacher
    • School district
step 3 explicitly identify the value tensions
Step 3: Explicitly Identify the Value Tensions
  • Right to privacy competes with protecting third parties
  • Does a client have the right to engage in self destructive behaviors
  • School district policy versus the rights of the client
  • HIPPA vs. FERPA
step 4 consult relevant codes of ethics supervisors colleagues
Step 4: Consult Relevant Codes of Ethics, Supervisors & Colleagues
  • NASW
    • Standards for School Social Work Servcies:
      • http://www.naswdc.org/practice/standards/NASW_SSWS.pdf
    • Code of Eithics
      • http://www.naswdc.org/pubs/code/default.asp
  • Consult with other SSWs
step 5 identify alternative intervention strategies targets for interventions
Step 5: Identify Alternative Intervention Strategies & Targets for Interventions
  • Consider all possible courses of action and the implications of each
  • You may choose to act on one of these courses
  • You may need to take a “wait and see” approach for a time period first
step 6 weigh the costs benefits to various stakeholders
Step 6: Weigh the Costs & Benefits to Various Stakeholders
  • For each alternative you identified in step 5,discuss the impact on those involved
  • Use a system’s perspective to identify the interests of those who will be impacted by your decision
step 7 clarify and make explicit personal values
Step 7: Clarify and Make Explicit Personal Values
  • Make efforts to be aware of your own values and preferences.
  • Are there personal experiences that create a bias?
  • Are there personal relationships that influence your decision?
  • May need to seek clinical supervision or consultation
step 8 determine which priority or obligation to meet foremost justify one s choice of action
Step 8: Determine Which Priority or Obligation to Meet Foremost & Justify One’s Choice of Action
  • Decide which course of action to take
  • Justification for this decision is based on legal mandates, professional judgment, professional standards and ethical principles
step 9 document the process of decision making
Step 9: Document the Process of Decision Making
  • Identify the process
  • Document when and with whom you consulted
  • Use professional discretion and judgment on how much detail is needed
discuss scenarios
Discuss Scenarios
  • Three fictional “ethical dilemmas”
  • Get into small groups and go through the decision making process
  • Write a sample documentation note
    • Where will you put this note?
    • Who has access to it?
    • If you feel no written documentation is needed, why?
  • We will gather in 20 minutes for large group review
references
References
  • Mattison, Marian. (2006). Professional Ethical Codes: Applications to Common Ethical Dilemmas. In Frankin, Cynthia, Harris, MaryBeth, & Allen-Meares, Paula, School Services Sourcebook: A Guide for School-Based Professionals (pp. 921-927). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  • http://www.socialworkers.org/practice/standards/nasw_ssws.pdf
  • http://www.sswaa.org/index.asp?page=91
  • www.dpi.wi.gov/sspw/doc/sswprivacyofminors.doc
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