Caseworkers should be prepared to address a number of ethical dilemmas that may occur when working with children, youth, and families. The following resources can help them assess the context in which moral and ethical issues may arise and how to address those issues effectively. Resources include State and local examples.
Consent and Participation: Ethical Issues in the Treatment of Children in Out-of-Home Care
Molin & Palmer
American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 75(1), 2005
Discusses informed consent, access to treatment information, and the rights of birth parents or foster parents to participate in a child's treatment. It includes recommendations for solving many of the problems mental health services providers face.
Dealing With the Parent Whose Judgment Is Impaired by Alcohol or Drugs: Legal and Ethical Considerations
Fraser & McAbee
Pediatrics, 114(3), 2004
Addresses the role of the pediatrician when working with an impaired parent, including information on patient confidentiality, office safety, and reporting mandates. It offers suggestions for office procedures and staff training programs on what to do in such situations.
Ethical and Legal Issues
In Counseling, Psychology, and Children (2nd ed.)
Includes a process model for ethical decision-making and addresses issues when providing child therapy such as informed consent, confidentiality and privileged communication, the rights of children and parents, maintenance of client records, and more.
Ethical Issues in Working Therapeutically with Vulnerable Children
In Mental Health Interventions and Services for Vulnerable Children and Young People
Explores the philosophical underpinnings for ethical inquiry, the definition of concepts, and the influence of individual values on health-care decision-making.
Ethics and the Child Protection Process
In Protecting Children From Abuse and Neglect in Primary Care
Considers professional ethics in the realm of child protection, and offers a moral framework that outlines the duty of a doctor to act in his/her patient's best interests.
Intervening in Children's Lives: An Ecological, Family-Centered Approach to Mental Health Care
Dishion & Stormshak (2006)
Describes an ecological approach to child and family intervention, including the principles of ethical decision-making and the unique ethical dilemmas faced by workers serving children and families.
Knowing: The Critical Error of Ethics in Family Work
Ricks & Bellefeuille
Child and Family Services, 25(1/2), 2003
Discusses the need for workers to be open-minded and to avoid making assumptions in order to practice ethically when working with families.
Runaway and Homeless Youth: Policy and Services
In Child Welfare for the Twenty-First Century: A Handbook of Practices, Policies, and Programs
Presents an overview of services for runaway and homeless youth and discusses ethical issues confronting service providers working with this population.
Standards for Victim Assistance Programs and Providers
National Victims Assistance Standards Consortium
Offers program, competency, and ethical standards for all providers working with victims of crime, including sample assessment tools, promising practices, guidelines for implementing the standards, and credentialing information.
Values and Anti-Discriminatory Practice
Allen & Langford (2007)
In Effective Interviewing in Social Work and Social Care: A Practical Guide
Considers values and attitudes when providing social work services, particularly the importance of anti-discriminatory practice.
Child Welfare Practice in Rural North Carolina
North Carolina Division of Social Services & North Carolina Family and Children's Resource Program
Children's Services Practice Notes, 12(3), 2007
Includes a discussion of ethics and dual roles for child welfare caseworkers serving rural areas of the State.
Code of Ethics for Child Welfare Professionals (PDF - 504 KB)
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (2004)
Addresses ethical decision-making, integrity, nondiscrimination, conflict of interest, research, supervision, administration, and responsibilities to clients, foster parents, colleagues, and the courts.
Using Ethics to Guide Casework Decision Making
Pennsylvania Child Welfare Training Program (2010)
Helps child welfare professionals clarify their personal and professional values, learn a framework for ethical decisionmaking, and practice the framework using case material drawn from Pennsylvania child welfare practice.