Exploring the Process of Ethical Decision Making

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An Ethical Dilemma|
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Exploring the Process of Ethical Decision Making|

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An Ethical Dilemma|
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Exploring the Process of Ethical Decision Making|

SSW 718 - Practice lab Part ii
Spring 2013
Dr. Willie Tolliver
Authored by: Lwiza B. Castillo
SSW 718 - Practice lab Part ii
Spring 2013
Dr. Willie Tolliver
Authored by: Lwiza B. Castillo

An Ethical Dilemma
Exploring the Process of Ethical Decision Making

Part I:
* Presenting the dilemma
* Context: Agencies involved, changes occurring for client and worker, and legal, clinical, cultural, structural aspects to be considered

Part II:
* What are the competing ethical principles
* What are the regulations that apply according to the NASW code of ethics and other resources

Part III:
* What was my decision making process, what ethical decision making frameworks were employed * How was this process or framework anti-oppressive
* What professional development was attained

Part I:
As a developing case manager I have witnessed various examples of competing ethics in the workplace. These include knowledge of other workers falsifying case records, not sharing that knowledge for fear of repercussions, and concerns about the appropriation of grant funding. At the time that these occurred I felt that all of the mentioned ethical dilemmas were truly not within my purview to address, although I as a person have felt morally obliged to approach such topics, it is important for me to note that I did not have the authority whether explicit or implicit or the ability to address these. Therefore I am left to look among my own actions that I have taken as a caseworker simply because my gut said it was the right thing to do. In its most simple form my ethical dilemma constitutes of being torn between my responsibility as a social worker to not abandon a client in need of services and my responsibility to not engage in dual relationships with clients. This account will explore the dilemma that I faced, the resources I utilized, the regulations that applied in this case, and the decision making framework that I employed in the process of making this ethical decision and growing as a professional. In my work as a tenant advocate at my previous agency I assisted many clients that were facing eviction because of a legal technicality and therefore would be evicted no matter what in the end. This meant that the cases were Hold Over cases rather than Rent Collection and that because the law is very clear there was no opportunity to make a case, thus leading any legal assistance organization to turn away such cases because it was a lost cause and the family should be preparing to move anyway. With a case like this I was able to use the systems in place to prolong the eviction, meaning that although all parties involved knew that the ultimate result would be to leave the apartment, there were some actions that could be taken in the mean time. This included having hearings with the New York City Housing Authority to appeal the case and once a decision is made at the civil housing court then taking it to the Supreme Court on appeal. When I was recently forced to resign at my last agency I was in the midst of a case like this, specifically in the middle of the Civil Court to Supreme Court process. Nor the client or I was prepared to set our work on this case aside simply because of extenuating circumstances. Their priority of retaining secure shelter for as long as possible was much too important to just stop working on this. Therefore, I made a leap and provided this family with my personal number and continued to advise them through their court process regardless of whether or not I was employed. It is important to note that it would have been impossible to refer them elsewhere since other agencies that do this type of work would not have taken their case because of guaranteed loss and four people on my team left with me...
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