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Child Protective Services: A Guide for Caseworkers. 2003
Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, Children's Bureau. DePanfilis, D., Salus, M. K.|
|Year Published: 2003|
Appendix D—National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics1
The National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics provides guidance regarding the everyday professional conduct of all social workers, including child protective services (CPS) caseworkers. The following standards are based on guidelines for professional conduct with clients:
Commitment to clients. A CPS caseworker's primary responsibility is to assure child safety, child permanence, child well-being, and family well-being.
Self-determination. CPS caseworkers respect and promote the right of clients to self-determination and help clients identify and clarify their goals. The right to self-determination may be limited when the caseworker, in their professional judgment, determines that the clients' actions or potential actions pose a serious and foreseeable, imminent risk to their children.
Informed consent. CPS caseworkers should provide services to clients only in the context of a professional relationship based, when appropriate, on valid informed consent. In instances where clients are receiving services involuntarily, CPS caseworkers should provide information about the nature and extent of services and about the extent of clients' right to refuse the services.
Competence. CPS caseworkers should provide services and represent themselves as competent only within the boundaries of their education, preservice and inservice training, license, certification, etc.
Cultural competence and social diversity. CPS caseworkers should understand culture and its function in human behavior, recognizing the strengths in all cultures. Caseworkers should be knowledgeable about their clients' cultures and demonstrate competence in providing services that are sensitive to the cultures and to differences among people and cultural groups.
Conflicts of interest. CPS caseworkers should be alert to and avoid any conflict of interest that may interfere with the exercise of professional discretion and impartial judgment. Caseworkers should not take any unfair advantage of a professional relationship or exploit others for personal gain.
Privacy and confidentiality. CPS caseworkers should respect the child and family's right to privacy. They should not solicit private information from clients unless it is essential to assuring safety, providing services, or achieving permanence for children. Caseworkers can disclose information with consent from the client or person legally responsible for the client's behalf. Caseworkers should discuss with clients and other interested parties the nature of the confidentiality and the limitations and rights of confidentiality. Caseworkers should protect the confidentiality of all information, except when disclosure is necessary to prevent serious, foreseeable, and imminent harm to the child.
Access to records. Caseworkers should provide clients with reasonable access to the records about them. Caseworkers should limit client access to records when there is compelling evidence that such access could cause serious harm to the child or family. When providing access to records, caseworkers must protect the confidentiality of other individuals identified in the record, such as the name of the reporter.
Sexual relationships. Caseworkers should not, under any circumstances, engage in sexual activities or sexual contact with current or former clients, client's relatives, or others with whom the client maintains a close personal relationship when there is a risk of exploitation or potential harm to the client. Caseworkers should not provide clinical services to individuals with whom they have had a prior sexual relationship.
Sexual harassment. Caseworkers should not make sexual advances or sexual solicitation, request sexual favors, or engage in other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature with clients.
Physical contact. Caseworkers should not engage in physical contact with children and parents when there is a possibility of psychological harm.
Derogatory language. Caseworkers should never use derogatory language in their verbal or written communication about clients. Caseworkers should use behavioral, respectful, and sensitive language in their communications to and about clients.
Clients who lack decision making capacity. When acting on behalf of clients who lack the capacity to make informed decisions, caseworkers should take reasonable steps to safeguard the interests and rights of those clients.
Termination of services. CPS caseworkers should terminate services to clients when child safety is assured or permanence has been achieved.
1 National Association of Social Workers. (1999). Code of ethics of the National Association of Social Workers. Washington, DC: Author. back
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