2 Working with family groups and networks
In this section you will study the impacts of social work intervention. You are asked to consider various aspects of applied social work practice with individuals and their personal networks. Children and families social workers are often engaged in finding placements and ‘new’ families for looked after children. Workers in adult services are also concerned with transitions between home, hospital and care homes. Social work interventions can have significant impact on service users and their kin as well as on their friendships and wider community supports. All these loyalties are very significant in people’s lives, therefore interventions should take account of them.
The importance of communities and long-term friendships to many adults should not be underestimated. This is especially the case with many adult service users who develop strong friendships built on years of shared experiences. They may also have community support networks which complement or replace relatives and friends who live at a distance. Children’s friendships are very important too, and offer vital peer support and a sense of not being alone.
It can be argued that working with several individuals at once enables a more effective exchange of information and perspective. In this section, you are asked to think about the dynamics of working with families as groups. In social work practice, this could happen in many ways: for example, with adoptive families, foster families, families by choice and close networks, biological families, single adults and their networks, and couples.
Working with families as a whole (or with individuals and their social support networks) to enable them towards increased wellbeing remains part of the social work role, whether it comes about through planning meetings, case conferences or assessments and longer-term involvement.