To me, it’s about the welfare of children, not just about the system that delivers child welfare services. There is a tendency to silo areas like child welfare vs. juvenile delinquency vs. mental health issues in children. The truth is there are huge overlaps in those three areas. As a clinician, understanding what is traumatic to children is not the same as what is traumatic to adults.
I teach my students to be careful about the diagnosis du jour, to not only live in the moment of what we think is going on but to make sure they look critically at how we come to think this way. My passion as a faculty member is to get people to act like social workers, which is to question authority, question the assumptions, look at the literature and then assume the role of advocate. That’s critical to being a good social worker.