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Capturing invisibility: child welfare social worker's interventions and assessment planning in presentations of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder(s)

Capturing invisibility: child welfare social worker's interventions and assessment planning in... Child welfare services (CWSs) globally continue to absorb high rates of children living with or suspected of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). Such high prevalence rates render CWS with major ethical and moral dilemmas of meeting complex needs. Currently, many jurisdictions are challenged by diagnostic capacity and cost implications of formal FASD diagnosis. This paper aims to recommend a screening protocol to address management gap between FASD initial presentation and formal diagnosis.Design/methodology/approachThis is a follow-up paper from a grounded-theory study of a sample (N = 18) of child welfare social workers (CWSWs), allied health professionals and foster parents. A stepwise protocol was developed through systematical interpretation of the final data.FindingsThe application of a five-step screening protocol would greatly support CWSW in meeting the needs of children with suspected FASD. This CWSWs-led assessment model incorporates a clinical evaluation to exclude neurodevelopmental conditions caused by known genetic disorders, followed by behavioral and neurocognitive psychosocial assessments.Research limitations/implicationsThis study had several limitations. Firstly, as a specific social work-based sample, it is not necessarily representative of the wider population of social workers globally due to different cultural responses to FASD in CWSs. The transferability of findings will have to be considered due to cultural variations concerning FASD.Practical implicationsBy offering a management and nonlabeling approach, this five-step screening protocol offers a delineated pathway for CWSW and addresses the major professional frustrations while seeking to plan safe care for a child suspected of having FASD.Social implicationsThe research offers a pragmatic low-cost to society to alleviate the mounting social and monetary implications of FASD. A large percentage of children impacted by prenatal alcohol exposure do not qualify under formal clinical diagnostic guidelines. Leaving these children without intervention is problematic. The recommendation of this study addresses this critical gap in services. The primary aim is to alleviate the burden on this cohort of vulnerable children by offering nonlabeling neurodevelopmental screening.Originality/valueThe direct implications of FASD and how it impacts CWS are well documented. However, few studies focus on the critical interface of FASD and the role of CWSW responsible for planning their safe care. This paper offers a novel pragmatic and functional multistep protocol to aid CWSW in this complex area of practice. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Advances in Dual Diagnosis Emerald Publishing

Capturing invisibility: child welfare social worker's interventions and assessment planning in presentations of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder(s)

Advances in Dual Diagnosis , Volume 16 (2): 14 – Apr 25, 2023

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References (53)

Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
1757-0972
eISSN
1757-0972
DOI
10.1108/add-01-2023-0004
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Child welfare services (CWSs) globally continue to absorb high rates of children living with or suspected of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). Such high prevalence rates render CWS with major ethical and moral dilemmas of meeting complex needs. Currently, many jurisdictions are challenged by diagnostic capacity and cost implications of formal FASD diagnosis. This paper aims to recommend a screening protocol to address management gap between FASD initial presentation and formal diagnosis.Design/methodology/approachThis is a follow-up paper from a grounded-theory study of a sample (N = 18) of child welfare social workers (CWSWs), allied health professionals and foster parents. A stepwise protocol was developed through systematical interpretation of the final data.FindingsThe application of a five-step screening protocol would greatly support CWSW in meeting the needs of children with suspected FASD. This CWSWs-led assessment model incorporates a clinical evaluation to exclude neurodevelopmental conditions caused by known genetic disorders, followed by behavioral and neurocognitive psychosocial assessments.Research limitations/implicationsThis study had several limitations. Firstly, as a specific social work-based sample, it is not necessarily representative of the wider population of social workers globally due to different cultural responses to FASD in CWSs. The transferability of findings will have to be considered due to cultural variations concerning FASD.Practical implicationsBy offering a management and nonlabeling approach, this five-step screening protocol offers a delineated pathway for CWSW and addresses the major professional frustrations while seeking to plan safe care for a child suspected of having FASD.Social implicationsThe research offers a pragmatic low-cost to society to alleviate the mounting social and monetary implications of FASD. A large percentage of children impacted by prenatal alcohol exposure do not qualify under formal clinical diagnostic guidelines. Leaving these children without intervention is problematic. The recommendation of this study addresses this critical gap in services. The primary aim is to alleviate the burden on this cohort of vulnerable children by offering nonlabeling neurodevelopmental screening.Originality/valueThe direct implications of FASD and how it impacts CWS are well documented. However, few studies focus on the critical interface of FASD and the role of CWSW responsible for planning their safe care. This paper offers a novel pragmatic and functional multistep protocol to aid CWSW in this complex area of practice.

Journal

Advances in Dual DiagnosisEmerald Publishing

Published: Apr 25, 2023

Keywords: Prenatal alcohol exposure; Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder; Child welfare social workers; Social work; Screening; Child welfare; Invisible disability

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