Issue March, 2008
Niels Rosendahl Jensen and Ditte Sørensen,Kopenhagen (Denmark)
Internationally Denmark is known as a welfare society, marked by a high degree of equality in living conditions. The equality is financed by high public taxation giving a basis to welfare services, usually and to a great extent delivered by public institutions. Among other things this goes for free access to culture, education and training, health, social services, etc. In a formula the public institutions should offer services to the Danish population aiming at every citizen’s possibility of living a good life in security and progress – what ever event might happen.
This ideal picture of the Danish society has been scratched during the last years. Several surveys are pointing at an increasing inequality related to different social segments’ access to the societal resources (economy, labour, education and health). The National Council on Socially Exposed (a government committee) has documented that the living conditions of i.e. drug addicts, psychosocial impaired, homeless and further more are worsened. The National Union of Social Pedagogues (around 34.000 members and organizing nearly 90% of social workers/social pedagogues in Denmark) has concluded based on research that humans with handicaps are suffering under living conditions that are worse than the average. In Parliament more politicians have stressed that the inequality of today corresponds with the level of the early 1960’s. It seems that a number of indicators points at lower living conditions for some citizens in Denmark.
Prolonging this general approach our contribution will focus upon the public efforts directed at citizens with handicaps, especially citizens with great and lasting physical and psychological reductions of capabilities. Seen from the perspective of equality of opportunity and of rights these humans need a broad support from public institutions in order to reach living conditions which are comparable to those of the majority.
2. Principles of Danish policy for handicapped people
Since the start of 1990’es Danish policy on this matter has been built upon principles of equal treatment and equal opportunity aiming at a society for all enabling the individuals to get equal influence and equal participation in the societal community. Though the principles are not legally binding, but based upon a decision of Parliament and the Standard Rules of UNO 1993 on equal opportunities for handicapped. The principles are interpreted by guidance of the Ministries. Reading the guidance you will find 4 principles: the environmental-related concept of handicaps, solidarity, sector responsibility, and compensation.
- The concept of handicap stems from conceptual decisions of UNO – The Standard Rules (1993) and The Convention on Handicap (2006) – and is understood as a loss or a reduction of opportunities to participate equally. The reduction of capability is the “hard” fact (related to the person) to which are added “soft” experiences (related to the environment). Reductions are to be interpreted as lacking expectations and/or prejudices concerning handicapped citizens, as reduced rights compared to other citizens, as lacking access to modern habitation, education, treatment of health services, culture, etc.
- Solidarity means that each and everyone is responsible for his neighbour, and that persons in need receive the necessary services aiming at regenerating the former quality of life. The responsibility mentioned was until recently implemented by public institutions. Today that responsibility has been moved from society to individuals and/or families, except for the handicapped who are still backed up by a majority of the population. In spite of the general support this field has only limited political interest which leads to challenging the principle in the midst of political priorities.
- The principle of sector responsibility means that public sectors offering services and products are responsible of meeting the citizens’ or clients’ needs. Therefore, this responsibility “rules” not only the social sector, but all sectors. The principle has never been implemented in Denmark, meaning that handicapped people are not treated as other citizens.
- The principle of compensation implies that handicapped people are to be compensated for the consequences of their reduced capabilities. This principle is under hard pressure today, and evidence seems to point at rather big differences in municipal and regional administration of the principle.
One might conclude that the four principles are signs of goodwill, but also that handicapped people are neither equally treated nor enjoying equal rights compared with other citizens. The outcome seems to be an increased inequality, and combined with the enormous, ongoing structural changes of the public sector this pattern might be even strengthened.
3. Reform of structures – the first reform of the public sector: new municipalities and regions
On January 1st 2007 the then 254 municipalities were reduced to 98, and 13 counties to 5 regions. The decision was taken by a very narrow parliamentary majority in June 2004, although the responsible Minister kept talking about “the greatest reform in our lifetime”.
The reform implies that the regions are responsible for hospitals, parts of the public traffic, and some very specialized social institutions. The responsibility on social services delivered to handicapped as a whole is now situated at municipality level. The reform opened for municipal decision whether or not to take over responsibility for former county organized special institutions for children, private homes for adult handicapped etc.; most of the municipalities decided to meet the challenges, resulting in that just about 1/5 of those institutions are now in the hands of the new regions.
This seems quite simple, but has nothing to do with a tempest in a teacup, since the reform was carried out under unusual conditions, partly as an outcome of taxation stop and a reduced freedom of financial activity of the municipalities. The purpose was to get public institutions in shape to create and deliver cheaper, better and more individualised services to the citizens and to produce and deliver the services under increased democratic control and increased societal influence (Petersen (Ed.) 2007).
During the discussions of Parliament the target group of this article was by and large absent. The important themes became hospitals, elderly people, and the free choice of services. This meant that the municipalities have taken over the responsibility of such citizens and institutions without having knowledge of the needs of the target group or the demands on professionalism and resources.
Nowadays the institutions and services offered by the municipalities are run on market like conditions, implying that these services are competing with those of day care institutions, schools about resources in a reduced municipal economy. The municipalities were in principle compensated in advance of the extra costs bound for the services, but nevertheless many municipalities have been forced to reduce their costs (www.socialkortet.dk).
Which implications concerning the quality of the services this might involve is at least for the moment being pure guesswork, but Olsen & Rieper (2007) point at the fact that the whole future of the field is surrounded by pretty much insecurity. The municipalities launched their takeover as an outstanding opportunity to develop the services. Market-like competition as well as the idea of evidence based practices and measurement of effects might not be the best tool to develop comparable conditions for handicapped people. Some recent “scandals” in social institutions have shown a picture not worthy of imitation.
Just to mention a horrifying example: a Danish Television Company made “hidden camera” at an institution for handicapped people showing that the social pedagogues did not invest their time during their working hours in interaction with their clients or users, but rather used their time on private matters (looking television, ordering gifts from net shops, etc. When they did have contacts or relations with the users, then it seemed to have very less in common with pedagogical activities. The personal used to neglect, humiliate or punish the users. The broadcasting raised a public debate comparing the institutional work with that of a KZ-Camp in Hitler Germany, underlining the need for pedagogical ethics, pedagogical interventions and support directed at the users, etc. As a consequence of the scandal the Ministry of Social Affairs appointed a working committee to recommend how to avoid such mal functions from the side of professionally educated pedagogues.
Since the most discussed scandal (dated February 2007) the Danish government has signed the new convention of handicap, improved by UNO (Council on Human Rights). The convention does not improve new rights, but underlines that handicapped people should enjoy equal rights with other people on self determination, respect of integrity, dignity as well as the right to become a part of the societal community. This fact is still a well-kept secret – except for exclusive circles. A follow up on the official signing did not yet occur neither as an outcome of the latest scandals nor very systematically in the work of the Ministry of Social Affairs.
4. Quality Reform – the second reform of the public sector
In August 2006 the Government announced the need for increased quality of the public sector and (earlier mentioned in SocMag) did launch the process leading to a reform under the banner of “Better Service for Citizens” (August 2007). The content of the reform is a product of participation of workers of the public sector as well as different groups of interest with in the field (employers, experts, companies, etc.).
Originally the reform should be cost neutral, which showed to be not possible. The whole subject changed into questions of education, wages, and prestige of public servants. In June 2007 the Government made a tripartite agreement with municipalities and regions (Kommunernes Landsforening – Local Government DK- and Danske Regioner), the National Union of Trade Unions (Landsorganisationen I Danmark), the Central Organisation of Danish Academicians (Akademikernes Centralorganisation) and The Council of Public and Private Servants (FTF). Due to the agreement a number of quite large sums were prepared for the further development and modernisation of public institutions, for further education of the personal and for training of institutional managers. This has not been agreed upon in every detail, and insecurity remains whether and to what extent people with handicaps might get “a piece of the cake”. The competition in the field itself as well as related to other fields marked by more political favour explains the outcomes.
Which are the intentions, and what is going to be the outcome? In August 2007 the Government published the reform of the public sector: Better Welfare and More Job Satisfaction – the Strategy of the Government aiming at High Quality of the Public Sector. “The purpose of the reform is to guarantee continuing renewal and development of the quality of day care institutions, institutions of elderly people and hospitals”. The total reform consists of 180 initiatives framing high quality of the public sector. Its content is divided into 8 smaller reforms: Consumer in centre; attractive working places marked by responsibility and professional development; reform of management (competent, professional, and visible managers) in order to develop innovation within institutions; Solid local self determination – de-bureaucratization; More hands for presence and care plus Investment in the welfare of the future.
In spite of the broad public discussion on the above mentioned scandals the reform seems to be totally unaffected by the question of handicapped people. As already stated this area is a non-favoured field of politicians which means that the reform by no means is embracing disadvantaged people. In the framework of the Law on Social Service it has been mentioned that the whole purpose concerning handicapped might be changed. First – for the sake of the individuals opportunities and capabilities; second – for the sake of a better coherence between the many authorities involved (among other things a continuous person that follows the person in need due to reduction of capabilities).
When the quality reform does not embrace handicapped people, then there might be suspicion beyond doubt that those people are not appreciated. But first of all it is symptomatic for the missing favour which this field has suffered from. One might add that the reform itself does not involve this sort of problems, since they are put on the agenda of a special working group in the Ministry of Social Affairs.
5. The working group
In September 2007 the working group finished its work by disseminating a report: “Ways to a good life in your own home” (Not yet released October 2007 on the homepage of the Ministry as expected). The report consists of a number of recommendations plus a discussion on the rights of handicapped. In spite of the fact that institutions for handicapped were abolished or phased out nearly 10 years ago, the report problematizes the fact that private homes of handicapped people continuously are named and understood as institutions: “This depends on the fact that it has been difficult to change the character of the ‘residential homes’, among other things the basic understanding of the personal, the handicapped and the environment to characterize such homes as institutions. This understanding is thereby reflected in many such arrangements” (our translation; Report, p. 4).
The report points at a number of milestones or bearings on which circumstances might be of importance in the life of the individual and his/her opportunities to live a good life in his/her own right. Those are concerned with self determination and influence; challenges; safety, confidence and spontaneity; communication and broadness plus culture at work, professionalism and political favour. The milestones are divided into 5 special areas of attention and intervention:
- National campaign to develop focus of the population and a catalogue on methods, ethics and values in residential homes;
- Developmental work in order to experience new ways of arranging the support to and the education of tenants in the field of citizen competencies;
- Composition of a codex for good management and identification of needs for further education plus establishing a goal directed education;
- Identification of needs for development of competencies for personal, funds set aside for supplementary training and for development of competencies in the job.
Many of these activities demand a rather extensive sum of money. Whether the Minister of Social Affairs has the will and/or the opportunity to compete for such means, is insecure and at the same time it is insecure which initiatives the Minister will use as a follow up on the Report above mentioned. The general picture is that handicapped are a ‘forgotten’ or ‘overseen’ subject of public discussion – due to the fact that the overwhelming focus goes for children and their families, schools, elderly people, and waiting times before admission to a hospital or medical treatment.
6. The Parliamentary Debate
The Government as well as the opposition succeeded in debating the general perspective of the coming year without even mentioning inequalities in living conditions of people with different forms of handicaps. In spite of more scandals and the work of the working group of the Ministry of Social Affairs such hard facts weren’t even mentioned. A very fresh research outcome at the School of Education (DUE) in Copenhagen points at the Danish position as a most lousy nation to take care of handicapped people which eventually means that the handicapped are creating a parallel society to the official one.
The outcome of that new research is well known. The target group of this contribution lives in a parallel society, hasn’t got any political attention or favour, and suffers from bad living conditions. Many members of the group exclusively relates to “the normal world” via family or professionals. Evidence on how many of the 36.000 handicapped living a parallel life is not available. A qualified guess summarizes about 20.000 – comparable to the population of a minor municipality in Denmark – one of 98. Surprising? Perhaps not since many myths are still surviving concerning handicapped citizens. They are not like us; of course we should provide for them, but not in a way that will be too expensive; they should not have any rights since they are not producing or even capable of learning anything of value.
The conclusion sounds: there is much will, but not much action in order to develop equality of rights.
Olsen, Leif og Rieper, Olaf i Storm, John(red) 2007): Ledelse i en reformtid i velfærdsstatens maskinrum
Petersen, Storm, John(red) 2007): Ledelse i en reformtid i velfærdsstatens maskinrum – 8 forskningsbaserede bidrag om institutionsledelse, Danmarks forvaltningshøjskole
Regeringen (2007): Bedre velfærd og større arbejdsglæde – regeringens strategi for høj kvalitet i den offentlige service, august
Ringsmose, Charlotte (2007): Nordisk inklusion. Danmarks Pædagogiske Universitetsskole, Aarhus Universitet
Socialministeriet 2007(ikke offentliggjort): Veje til et godt liv i egen bolig, oktober, 2007
www.sl.dk/Essay: Udfordringer til den social pædagogiske indsats for mennesker med multiple udviklingshæmninger, Socialpædagogernes Landsforbund, 2006
www.sl.dk: Redskabsmappe om handicappolitik, Socialpædagogernes Landsforbund, 2006
www.napincl.dk: Fattigdom og social ulighed i sundhed - rapport om Den Danske Nationale Handlingsplan. Finn Kenneth Hansen og Henning Hansen. Oktober 2007
www.folketinget.dk/debat i folketingssalen, 2-4 oktober 2007
www.handicap.dk/rettigheder: FN’s standardregler for ligebehandling af handicappede
www.handicap.dk/ rettigheder: FN’s konvention om handicappedes menenskerettigheder
www.socialkortet.dk 2007): Rundspørge blandt ledere – september 2007 de kommunale lederes besvarelser, Socialpædagogerne
Niels Rosendahl Jensen is Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Educational Sociology at the Danish School of Education, Aarhus University. Ditte Sorensen is counsellor of the professional association of social workers in Denmark.
March 24th, 2008
Greg Marston, St. Lucia (Australia)
My last contribution to SocMag focused on social policy issues in the lead up to the Federal election. The November 2007 Federal Election in Australia resulted in the Federal Labor Party being swept into office with a huge majority. The Former Prime Minister, John Howard could not even retain his own seat. The election night was a cause for celebration for many Australian citizens, the trade unions and other social movements who had been compaigning for a fairer and greener Australia. As I write this article the new Labor Government, led by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and the first female Deputy Prime Minister in Australia, Julia Gillard, have just completed its first 100 days in office. So what is the social policy record so far?
The first significant move made during the first sitting of the new parliament was a formal apology to the ‘Stolen Generations’ – tens of thousands of Indigenous Australians who were forcibly removed from their families by state and territory governments during the early 1900s and as late as the 1970s. The children were removed and placed with white foster families. A national inquiry conducted into the consequences of this policy recommended a formal apology to the families affected. The former Prime Minister, John Howard refused to say sorry on the grounds that present generations and contemporary governments should not be held responsible for past actions. His refusal to apologise on behalf of governments and the nation was condemned by Indigenous leaders, state governments and a host of community leaders.
In contrast, the national apology delivered by Prime Minister Rudd was broadcast around the country and people gathered in public spaces to witness the event. Cathy Freeman, an Indigeous Australian and former olympic good medallist said it best, when summing up the naton’s feelings, she declared it is simply ‘the right thing to do’. Many agreed. It was a powerful day and there is some hope that this will be the start of a new conversation between Indigenous Australia and non-Indigenous Australians along the path to genuine reconcialition. In making the apology the government has also committed itself to various policy targets for addressing the Indigenous Australians, such as increasing school attendenance and improving health and housing. Maybe these measures will start to make an impact on the socio-economic gap between Indigenous Australians and non-Indigenous Australians.
In other areas of social policy the government has been heavily borrowing from the mantra of New Labour in the UK. It has been talking a lot about social inclusion and has recently established an Australian Social Inclusion Board to advise the new government on a range of ways to address social problems such as mental illness and unemployment. The case for adopting a social inclusion policy framwork was made by Julia Gillardin a speech she delivered to the Australian Council of Social Service conference in October 2007:
“The concept of social inclusion in essence means replacing a welfarist approach to helping the underprivileged with one of investing in them and their communities to bring them into the mainstream market economy. It’s a modern and fresh approach that views everyone as a potential wealth creator and invests in their human capital.
Including everyone in the economic, wealth-creating life of the nation is today the best way for Labor to meet its twin goals of raising national prosperity and creating a fair and decent society. This is a recognized policy ambition of social democratic parties around the world today”.
Here we can see the evidence of third way governance, a world in which economic orthodoxy and progressive social policies can exist in a harmonious relationship. I have my doubts. I also have my concerns about the utility of a social inclusion discourse for clarifying the problems of our time and the best way to address them. Social inclusion is an attempt to join up social problems like crime, poverty, unemployment and mental illness. The problem is that the panacea for these problems in the various social indicators of inclusive societies often priveleges paid employment. Paid emploment is presented as the pathway out of social exlcusion. While this may be the case, we should have a genuine discussion about the options for people when employment isn’t the answer or even an option. And we should also be having a discussion about the the quality of the employment on offer for low-income Australians.
Another major challenge facing the new government is a housing affordabilty crisis in capital cities that is affecting the low-income renters in the private rental sector and home purchasers. At the same time as the housing affordability crisis is deepening the economy is growing and inflation is going up. In response the Federal Reserve Bank has been lifting interest rates, which is pushing an increasing number of home buyers into mortgage default. And concerns about inflationary pressure have meant that the government has been looking to cut spending and reign in calls for increased wages. The Prime Minister’s message is that we all have to share the economic pain. Undoubtetedly, some people wll be feeling more pain than others. In this economic climate a number of commentators have been suggesting the government should abandon is planned tax cuts and redirect the money into less inflationary areas of the economy, such as employee superannuation. So far the government has refused to budge on this issue.
The first budget of the new Labor Federal Government will be handed down in May this year. In my next contribution to Soc Mag I’ll bring you all the social policy highlights and lowlights from the budget.
Greg Marston is senior lecturer and director of the social policy unit at the University of Queensland, Australia.
March 24th, 2008
Ania Bustio Ramos, Pinar del Rio (Cuba)
English Abstract: The current world needs new development models that orient themselves towards the quality of life of the persons. Humanity is in a crisis of paradigms, in a so-called crisis of the civilization. The persons carry even responsibility to change the course of the story. For that it is important that the persons learn to recognize the reality around it to confirm change. But to change the reality must be learned. Social working in Cuba plays a special role in the variation of the current reality and the execution of a persistent development. In this article we present the preceding histories and main basements theories of social work in Cuba, and its main tasks in the busqueda of the Cuban sustainable development.
1. Soziale Arbeit und nachhaltige Entwicklung
In der Generalversammlung der International Federation of Social Work (IFSW) in Montreal im Jahr 2000 wurde Sozialarbeit als Profession definiert, die ermöglichen soll, soziale Veränderungen zu bewirken. Sie soll die menschlichen Beziehungen bei der Lösung der Probleme berücksichtigen und die Befreiung der Menschen von einer (entmündigenden) Fürsorge voran bringen und festigen. Indem Sozialarbeit Theorien über das Verhalten der Menschen und der sozialen Systeme nutzt, wird sie selbst Teil der unterschiedlichen Aspekte in denen die Menschen mit ihrer Umwelt in Beziehung stehen. Menschenrechte und soziale Gerechtigkeit werden als wichtige Handlungsprinzipien der Sozialarbeit benannt. Auf dieser Konferenz wurde ganz deutlich begriffen, dass Sozialarbeit ein System von Werten, Theorien und Praxis ist und dass die Essenz dieses Systems gerade in der Zusammenschau aller dieser Elemente liegt.
Also hat Sozialarbeit wichtige Aufgaben in der heutigen Welt:
- Entwicklung der menschlichen Fähigkeiten zur Anerkennung und Befriedigung der menschlichen Bedürfnisse,
- Anwendung der Menschenrechte und der sozialen Gerechtigkeit als Grundprinzip und Fundament der Praxis der Sozialarbeit,
- Solidarität mit den Menschen, die in der Entwicklung benachteiligt sind,
- Beseitigung von Ausgrenzung und Förderung der Integration,
- Entwicklung von Theorien aus der Systematisierung der praktischen Erfahrungen als Ergebnisse von Forschungsarbeiten, in denen die lokalen Kenntnisse und Erfahrungen eine besondere Rolle spielen,
- Herausbildung von Theorien der sozialen Entwicklung und des menschlichen Verhaltens sowie der verschiedenen sozialen Systeme,
- Nutzung solcher Theorien als Ausgangspunkt für die Analyse aller komplexer Situationen als Weg für die menschliche, organisatorische, soziale oder kulturelle Veränderung,
- Leitung von Gremien, Organisation der Gemeinde und Teilnahme an sozialpolitischen Aktionen zur Veränderung der Sozialpolitik und der ökonomischen Entwicklung.
Im Zentrum der praktischen Aufgaben der Sozialarbeit sollen also die psychosozialen Prozesse, die sich vor allem auf das Individuum konzentrieren ebenso stehen wie die Beteiligung an der Politik und an der Planung der sozialen Entwicklung.
Im Allgemeinen wirkt Sozialarbeit in die gleiche Richtung wie die neuen Entwicklungsparadigmen, wonach die Entwicklung als ein kreativer Prozess der bewussten Veränderung der Realität hin zur Verbesserung der Lebensqualität der Menschen verstanden wird. Aber dieser Prozess ist vom Grad der Beteiligung der Bevölkerung an diesem Prozess ebenso abhängig wie davon, dass lokale Regierungen und die Gemeinde eine führende Rolle spielen. In diesem Zusammenhang haben Sozialarbeit und nachhaltige Entwicklung als neue Entwicklungsparadigmen viele gemeinsame Aspekte, sowohl im theoretischen als auch im praktischen Sinne.
Wie Imelda Dodds (Präsidentin der Internationalen Föderation der Sozialarbeit) 2001 beim Internationalen Kongress für Sozialarbeiter in Santiago de Cuba sagte, hat Sozialarbeit eine globale Dimension, aber die praktischen Prioritäten sind von Land zu Land verschieden. Das bedeutet, dass die Theorien und die Methodologien der Sozialarbeit unbedingt von den kulturellen, historischen und sozial-ökonomischen Bedingungen abhängig sein werden. Dieser Gedanke steht in Zusammenhang mit dem, was auf der Konferenz von Río de Janeiro 1992 über nachhaltige Entwicklung gesagt wurde: „Global denken und lokal praktizieren“.
Nachhaltige Entwicklung ist die Verbesserung der Lebensqualität der Menschen auf dem Fundament einer endogenen Entwicklung der menschlichen Gemeinde. Um diesen Gedanken zu verwirklichen, ist es notwendig, über das Verhältnis Mensch - Gesellschaft nachzudenken. Die Welt braucht neue Entwicklungsstile auf der Basis einer neuen sozialen Ethik und der Solidarität zwischen, wie innerhalb der Generationen.
Natürlich sind die neuen Entwicklungsmodelle wie die nachhaltige Entwicklung als Ergebnisse der Krisenparadigmen der heutigen Zivilisation entstanden, im Zusammenhang mit der Krise der sozialen und ökonomischen Systeme (Bustio, 1997). Die Sozialarbeit existiert nicht abgehoben von solchen Situationen. Die Theorie und Praxis der Sozialarbeit muss deshalb auch überdacht und erneuert werden. Kuba als Mitglied der globalen Gemeinschaft steht nicht außerhalb der so genannten Krise. Das Entwicklungsmodell der kubanischen Gesellschaft ist nicht fehlerlos.
Deshalb ist die Sozialarbeit in Kuba heute durch einen Expansionsprozess in professioneller und institutioneller Hinsicht charakterisiert. Dieser wird besonders durch eine Erneuerung der aktuellen Sozialarbeiterschulen auf dem Lande beeinflusst.
2. Die Sozialarbeit vor der Revolution von 1959
Früher wurde Sozialarbeit durch die Institutionen des Gesundheitswesens ausgeübt. Diese Institutionen bildeten technische Professionelle im Rahmen der Sozialarbeit eher technisch und pragmatisch aus. Schon vor dem Sieg der Revolution im Jahre 1959 wurde Sozialarbeit als eine besondere Aufgabe der Gesundheitsinstitutionen angesehen. Die soziale Unterstützung als Hilfe für einige Individuen oder Familien, sogar für Altersheime, Kinder oder alte Leute wurde praktisch durch private und vor allem religiöse Organisationen geleistet.
Die ersten staatlichen Institutionen für Sozialarbeit wurden zwischen 1944 und 1959 gegründet. In diesen Organisationen bekamen die Menschen verschiedene soziale Hilfen, aber immer unter dem Einfluss von Politikern, die dies als Methode ansahen, die politischen Wahlen zu gewinnen.
1945 wurde die erste Schule für Sozialarbeit in Kuba gegründet. Sie gehörte zunächst zur Ausbildungsfakultät der Universität. Später, im Jahr 1950, gehörte sie dann zur sozialwissenschaftlichen Fakultät. Zu den verschiedenen Fächern der Sozialarbeit gehörten: Fallstudien, Grundlagen der Persönlichkeitspsychologie, Geschichte der Sozialfürsorge, Sozialmedizin, Sozialrecht, Störungen im Kindes- und Jugendalter, Gemeindeentwicklung.
Die erste wichtige Maßnahme der Kubanischen Revolution war 1961 die Alphabetisierung der gesamten Bevölkerung. Seit jener Zeit bis heute befindet sich die Ausbildung in Kuba in einer konstanten Entwicklung.
Nach 1959 leisteten verschiedene Massenorganisationen wie die kubanische Frauenorganisation oder das Komitee zur Verteidigung der Revolution aber auch das Gesundheitsministerium die Sozialarbeit im Lande. Sowohl vor als auch nach der Revolution waren die wichtigsten Merkmale der Sozialarbeit die soziale Intervention und die klassische Fürsorge. Es handelte sich immer und in erster Linie um soziale Unterstützung. In dieser Richtung wurden auch die Professionellen ausgebildet.
Es gab und gibt auch heute, wenn auch in geringerem Maße, eine Trennung zwischen Theorie und Praxis. Die Sozialarbeit wurde mehr als ein praktischer Beruf gesehen. Das war natürlich eine große Gefahr für die Sozialarbeit als so genannte wissenschaftliche Disziplin. Es war eine Disziplin, die in theoretischer Hinsicht sehr beschränkt blieb.
Gegen den wissenschaftlichen Status der Sozialarbeit wurde seit ihrer Entstehung am Ende des XIX. und Anfang des XX. Jahrhunderts sehr polemisiert, nicht nur in Kuba sondern allgemein in der Welt. Bei der Nennung in den verschiedenen Bibliographien wurde die Sozialarbeit auf verschiedene Weise bezeichnet: als Kunst, als Technologie, als eine Form der sozialen Aktion, als eine wissenschaftliche Disziplin oder als eine professionelle Aktivität. Viele Autoren haben die epistemologische Fokussierung der Sozialarbeit analysiert. Die verbreitete Betonung der praktischen Funktion der Sozialarbeit wurde in gewissem Sinne auch zu einer Behinderung für ihre theoretische Entwicklung, so dass für viele die Sozialarbeit keine echte Wissenschaft ist.
Ezequiel Andre-Egg ist unter den Autoren einer der wichtigsten der oben genannten Position. Für ihn liegt die wichtigste Aufgabe der Sozialarbeit auf dem Praxisniveau. (Munnoz y Urrutia, 2004). Damit reduzierte er die Sozialarbeit auf ihren praktischen Beitrag. Ihre theoretischen Dimensionen wurden überhaupt nicht anerkannt. Die Entwicklung neuer Erkenntnisse wurde nicht als bedeutsame Aufgabe gesehen, sondern nur die praktische Anwendung. Deshalb wurde eine „re - conceptualización“, also ein Wieder - Aufgreifen der Theorien der Sozialarbeit in den sechziger Jahren in Lateinamerika notwendig. Natürlich darf man auch nicht den historischen Kontext vergessen, in dem die Schulen für Sozialarbeit gegründet wurden. Sowohl in Kuba als auch in Lateinamerika spielten in dieser Zeit soziale Unruhen eine bedeutende Rolle.
Von vielen Autoren wurde, wie schon gesagt, die Sozialarbeit lediglich als eine Art von Sozialtechniken bezeichnet. Es würde den Rahmen dieser Arbeit sprengen, die verschiedenen Theorien zu erklären, jedoch soll erwähnt werden, dass die Entwicklung der Schule für Sozialarbeit in Kuba von allen diesen Theorien beeinflusst wurde. Aus diesem Grunde gilt heute Sozialarbeit als „eine wissenschaftliche Disziplin im Aufbau“ (Mun-noz y Urrutia, 2004).
So ist die Sozialarbeit charakterisiert durch die Übernahme von Begriffen aus verschiedenen Wissenschaften, die inhaltlich mit ihr gewisse Übereinstimmungen haben. Es fehlt ihr als Disziplin eine eigene begriffliche Struktur. Von Anfang an stand die Lösung der praktischen Probleme im Zentrum der Diskussion und nicht der Aufbau einer schlüssigen Theorie. Jede Wissenschaft die die sukzessive Ansammlung von Theorien, in der die Praxis systematisiert wird, und jede Theorie kann durch die Praxis verbessert werden. Die Systematisierung der praktischen Erfahrungen und der Aufbau neuer Theorien auf der Basis solcher praktischer Erfahrungen ist meiner Meinung nach eine besonders wichtige Aufgabe der heutigen Sozialarbeit in Kuba. Das gilt besonders, wenn wir davon ausgehen, dass die Sozialarbeit ein theoretischer und praktischer Beruf für die Veränderung und integrale Entwicklung der Gesellschaft ist.
In diesem Sinne sagte Mora (in Alayon, 1998), die Grundlage der Sozialarbeit sei die kritische soziale Ausbildung nach den Prinzipien von Freiheit und Gleichheit. Sie sei eine Praxis der Veränderung und der menschlichen Befreiung.
3. Soziale Arbeit für die nachhaltige Entwicklung in Kuba
Die Geschichte ist reich an verschiedenen Entwicklungsmodellen, in der Literatur werden zwei für das Ziel dieser Arbeit wichtige genannt, nämlich das „absteigende“ und das „aufsteigende“ Modell.
Das absteigende Modell ist von oben nach untern orientiert. In diesem Modell entscheidet die Regierung über den ganzen Entwicklungsprozess der Gesellschaft. Die Meinung der sozialen Akteure ist überhaupt nicht wichtig. Dies Modell ist typisch für anti-demokratische Regierungen, die die Bevölkerung als Objekt und nicht als Subjekt des Prozesses betrachtet.
Im Gegensatz dazu wird im aufsteigenden Modell von unten nach oben angesetzt. Hier spielt die Bevölkerung vor Ort eine besondere Rolle bei den Entscheidungen der Regierung. Die Sozialakteure sind Subjekt und nicht Objekt des Prozesses. Ein wichtiges Merkmal dieses Modells ist die Beteiligung der wichtigsten sozialen Akteure am gesamten Prozess.
Das aufsteigende Modell wäre das richtige Modell für den Weg zu einer nachhaltigen Entwicklung.
Nachhaltige Entwicklung bedeutet die Veränderung von Wissen und Ansätzen, menschlichem Verhalten und Werten, die seit langer Zeit als Tradition entwickelt wurden. Einen Erziehungsprozess durchzuführen, in dem der Erwerb von Kenntnissen im Mittelpunkt steht, ist besonders wichtig. Es muss aber auch eine kritische Analyse der ausgeübten Praxis der Menschen geben. Das Endprodukt ist dabei nicht so wichtig wie der gesamte Prozess. Jede Phase dieses Erziehungsprozesses spielt eine besondere Rolle im Gesamtprozess. Deshalb ist die Partizipation der Menschen ein entscheidender Faktor.
Normalerweise setzten Sozialarbeiter nur die Beobachtung als Instrument für die Ursachenforschung der Probleme ein. Beobachtung war immer und ist auch heute noch eine Form, Informationen zu sammeln und auf der Basis dieser Informationen eine mögliche Lösung zu finden. „Die traditionelle Sozialarbeit hat die Sozialarbeiter als Subjekt der Aktion angesehen und die Menschen, mit denen gearbeitet wird als Objekt derPraxis“ (Munnoz y Urrutia, 2004). In Kuba findet seit 1959 ein sozialer Prozess statt, der die Bedingungen für das aufsteigende Modell der Entwicklung schaffen will. Trotz aller wichtigen Ergebnisses dieses Prozesses in den verschiedenen Institutionellen Zusammenhängen wie z.B.Gesundheitswesen und Erziehung existiert noch immer eine Dominanz des absteigenden Modells, das auf die Sozialarbeit einen großen Einfluss hat.
In der Sozialarbeit tragen die Professionellen selbst die Verantwortung dafür, den wissenschaftlich fundierten Weg für ein alternatives Entwicklungsmodell zu finden, in dem die Menschen auch wirklich als Subjekte der Geschichte betrachtet werden. Partizipation und Gemeinde sind zwei wichtige Elemente in diesem Prozess. Das neue Modell sollte unserer Meinung nach an folgenden Grundsätzen orientiert sein:
Die Partizipation der Bevölkerung am gesamten Prozess ist möglich, angefangen von der Konzeption, über die Durchführung bis hin zur Evaluation und Systematisierung.
Der Prozess orientiert sich am Verhältnis aller Aspekte der Realität zueinander.
- Dezentralisierung und Selbstverwaltung:
Autonomie der lokalen Regierungen, der Institutionen im Gebiet und der Gemeinde im Allgemeinen.
Reale Partizipation setzt zuerst einmal voraus, über die Menschen nachzudenken. Sie bedeutet, an die Entwicklungsmöglichkeiten und Fähigkeiten der Menschen zu glauben. Eine soziale Arbeit mit den Gemeinden auf dieser Basis sollte davon ausgehen, dass die Menschen in der Lage sind, soziale Veränderungen zur Verbesserung der Lebensqualität durchzuführen. In diesem Sinne bedeutet Partizipation nicht nur bei einer Aktivität anwesend zu sein oder nur Teil einer Gruppe oder einer Gründung zu sein, sondern viel mehr Partizipation als einen Prozess mit zu gestalten, der die aktive und bewusste Beteiligung der Gemeindemitglieder an der gesamten Entwicklung ermöglicht.
In einem anderen Sinne bedeutet Partizipation eine Form, Macht abzugeben. Sie ist eine Form, die Macht in den verschiedenen Etappen des Prozesses zu teilen, sowohl in der Ausführung als auch in den verschiedenen Entscheidungen, die im Entwicklungsprozess der Gemeinde zu fällen sind. Das bedeutet, dass die Gemeindemitglieder ein echter Teil des gesamten Prozesses sind, aktiv teilnehmen an der Identifizierung der Probleme und Bedürfnisse, an den Entscheidungen über verschiedene Schritte der Entwicklung, an der Formulierung von Strategien bis hin zu der Ausführung der Pläne und ihrer Kontrolle.
Partizipation ist ein Prozess, der sehr viel mit der Vertiefung und Vermehrung der Beziehungen der Menschen untereinander, mit verschiedenen Wahrnehmungsformen und mit Strukturen zu tun hat.
Das höchste Niveau der Partizipation liegt unserer Meinung nach in der Selbstverwaltung aller Prozesse. Wann ist eine solche Selbstverwaltung möglich? Wenn die Gemeinde ein so hohes Partizipationsniveau am Entwicklungsprozess erreicht hat, dass sie von sich aus die Entscheidung über Ziele, Strategien und Entwicklungsmechanismen ohne die Hilfe von externen Mediatoren fällen kann. Die Rolle der Sozialarbeiter in der Gemeinde ist nicht die eines externen Mediators, sondern sie sollen ein Teil der Gemeinde sein, unabhängig davon ob sie aus der Gemeinde stammen oder nicht. Das geht aber nur, wenn sie den gesamten Entwicklungsprozess miterleben.
Eine so verstandene Sozialarbeit sieht die Menschen selbst als die wichtigsten Akteure und Manager des sozialen Prozesses. Aus diesem Grund ist es wichtig, den technischen und wissenschaftlichen Charakter der Sozialarbeit zu berücksichtigen. Sozialarbeit soll auch einen wissenschaftlichen Beitrag zum Entwurf der zukünftigen Aktionen leisten. In diesem Sinne soll sie partizipative, erziehende, interaktive und schöpferische Arbeit sein.
Die Prozesse der Realität in ihrer systemischen Einbettung zu betrachten ist heutzutage prinzipiell von großer Bedeutung. Die Realität ist nicht einfach die Summe aller ihrer Teile, sondern die Integration aller ihrer Teile. Und diese systematische Vernetzung ist ein besonderes Merkmal der heutigen sozialen Arbeit vor allem in Kuba.
Barrantes, C. (1999) Que es eso que llaman trabajo social?, Revista de servicio social, Vol1 N0 3
Bustio, A. (1997) “Desarrollo Sostenible. Concepto esquivo”, en Revista de Formación Ambiental, No 12. PNUMA, México
Bustio, A. (2001) Balance entre Población y Recursos. Investigación interisciplinaria y manejo de Areas Costeras en el Gran Caribe.CBCRM-Programa IOI-CFU- Laval- IDRC. Costa Rica
Bustio, A. (2004) Gestión Comunitaria y Planificación Integrada de Zonas Costeras. Tesis en opción al grado científico de Doctor en Ciencias, Alicante, España
D’ Angelo, O. (2005) Autonomía integradora y transformación social: El desafío ético emancipatoria de la complejidad. Publicaciones Acuario. Centro Felix Varela. La Habana
Dodds, I. (2001) Congreso Internacional de Trabajadores sociales. Santiago de Cuba
Lane, P. (1995) Establishing, supporting and sustaining the legacy of José Marti, Conferencia “José Marti y los retos del siglo XXI, Santiago de Cuba
International Federation of social workers. http://www.ifsw.org/en/p380003777.html, 08/10/2007
Moix, M. (1999) Introduccion al trabjo social, Ed. Trivium,Madrid
Munoz, T y Urrutia, L. (2004) El Trabajo social en Cuba. Revista Caminos. No.31-32, Centro Memorial Martin Luther King Junior, La Habana
Dr. Ania Bustio Ramos is former professor for social work at the University of Pinar del Rio in Cuba and works now in Italy.
Picture: www.pixelio.de (Photographer: www.steffen-susanne.de)
March 24th, 2008
Preliminary results of the sociological study in Leningrad Oblast, Russia
Valentina Samoylova, Olga Borodkina, Anna Smirnova and Yulia Victorova, St. Petersburg (Russia)
At the present time supporting family is one of the key issues of social policy in Russia. The government connects with the development of the institution of families the decision of many actual social problems, including demographic ones. The contemporary family policy is characterized by dynamism and the government takes measures on increased well-being of family and social service infrastructure for families with children. A state program for the stimulation of births is accepted. The regional programs of social support of families with children, improvement of conditions for children health, development and successful socialization are realized at a local level.
A necessary component of the evaluation of the efficiency of the undertaken arrangements is the analysis of independent information from the population by getting a feedback. It allows to trace the influence of policy on the everyday life of people. The knowledge and the account of actual needs of various types of the families, parents and children should be taken as the basis of development of family policy at local level.
In 2007-2008 St.Petersburg State University, The International Center of Social Service Studies with co-operation of the University of Helsinki realize the project “EMPATHOS RUSSIA - Preventive Work with Children and Families in the Russian and Finnish Border Region” in Leningrad Oblast.
Leningrad Oblast is a federal subject of Russia (i.e. oblast). It was established on August 1st, 1927, although it was not until 1945 that the oblast’s borders had been mostly settled in their present position. The oblast was named after the city of Leningrad. The administrative center of the oblast is Saint Petersburg, although it constitutes a separate federal subject (a federal city) and is administratively separate from the oblast. Leningrad Oblast is bordered by Finland in the northwest, Estonia in the west, as well as five federal subjects of Russia. The oblast has an area of 84,500 km² and a population 1,669,205 (as of the 2002 Census). Leningrad Oblast is one of the most dynamically developing regions of Russia. The contemporary demographic situation in the region determinates the main direction of social work with children and families.
The research aim of the project is to indicate direction and resources of primary preventive work with children and families that are characterized by many important advantages such as:
- broad coverage of the population,
- system impact on the quality of families’ lives,
- limited intervention in private life,
- higher probability of providing conditions for children’s well-being,
- using the resources of families.
In the framework of the project a sociological study was conducted, and data about situation of families with children and level and directions of social work with these client groups in the Russian border region were collected and analyzed.
The study was conducted in three main border towns of Leningrad Oblast (Vyborg, Priozersk, Svetogorsk). There were 3 research stages including different methods of collected data.
- Expert – Interviews to analyze the problem and perspectives of preventive social work (11 experts)
- Surveying of social workers and clients (children and parents) concerning needs and demands in preventive social work (questioning of parents (122 respondents), questioning of social service specialists (69 respondents), questioning of adolescents (90 respondents))
- Conducting focus groups with clients (parents) for evaluation of resources for realization of innovative models (65 participants)
In total 357 respondents took part in the research.
In this article we would like to present the preliminary results of the interviews and surveys.
In the centre of attention of social services are now families, who are not capable to solve problems without external help. Children in such families are in socially dangerous situations. Intensive efforts of social services workers and other specialists are required to improve the situation of the families and to protect the children’s rights. Despite of strong efforts of social workers, the situation does not change radically. Official statistical data show that tens of thousands of children and adolescents are escaping from the families annually.
Social services put insufficient attention to primary prevention, first of all they have to much work with families, which are already in difficult situations. But the importance of primary preventive social work is realized by both experts and social workers who were taking part in the survey.
The main characteristics of families
The results of questioning the parents (122 respondents) show a very high percentage of families with single parents, which in fact means with single mothers (see diagram 1).
Diagram 1: Typology of families in %
Financial circumstances of families
- “We have enough money, but for major purchase we have to borrow rather for a long time or buy on credit” - 55,7%
- “We have enough money only for every day needs “ - 25,4%
- “Sometimes we don’t have enough money for food and clothes” - 15,6%
- “We can manage ourselves well” - 3,3%
- Comfortable accommodation, but small (not enough) size - 41,0%
- Comfortable accommodation - 32,8%
- Uncomfortable accommodation (shared apartment, dormitory) or lack of accommodation - 26,2%
85,2 % of families have children, which are practically healthy, 9,8% - children have chronic diseases, 4,9% of families have handicapped children.
The structural characteristics of families, who were involved in the research, reflect a typical average situation of the project participants who live in towns and differ from characteristics of families who are clients of social agencies. According to data of the experts’ interviewing among families in a difficult living situation and who are in the sphere of social services organizations activities 83,8% are poor families, 76,5 % are families with single parents and 63,8% are families with children with health problem.
The main problems of families
Despite the families involved in the study are considered by state social work system as socially well- being they have a lot of different problems, therefore they should be considered as targets for prevention. Accordingly of the parents survey, the typical family problems are follow:
- Too much work, not enough time for rest - 78,0
- Financial problematic circumstances - 76,2
- Health problems among adult family members - 58,2
- Conflict between adults family members on questions of upbringing - 50,0
- Too much house work - 45,1
- There is no place for family rest in town - 44,3
- Lack of support from relatives - 35,3
- Bad living conditions - 35,2
- Difficulties on upbringing children - 30,3
- Health problems of children - 28,7
- Problem behavior of children in the school - 28,7
- Poor school advancement of children - 26,2
- Lack of understanding with teachers - 24,6
- Indifference - 23,8
- Unemployment - 18,8
- Ill parents in care - 12,3
- Problems with alcohol - 8,2
According to data of survey of children, we can see their perception of their everyday life and troubles. On the question “About what do you worry most of all?” the following answers were collected:
- Health of relatives - 64,4%
- Private life - 60,0%
- Financial problems of family - 50,0%
- Relations with parents - 50,0%
- Relations with peers - 48,9%
- Difficulties of school learning - 41,1%
- How they are looked - 33,3%
- Conflicts to teachers - 30,0%
- No activities for leisure time - 24,4%
- Relations between parents - 20,0%.
A comparison of the results of the parents and children questionnaire shows, that there is a lot of differences, that means there is no effective communication between parents and children.
Types of the help
The mechanisms of blocking significant needs of the person, restriction or absence of opportunities of their satisfaction lay in the basis of the problem. Accordingly, widening these opportunities is considered as useful and desirable.
The results of survey indicate those types and forms of the social help to families which are necessary to develop in the district where they live from the respondents’ point of view as well as types and forms of the social help in which the participants of research are personally interested. This data is presented in the following table.
Kinds and forms of social help (survey participants regard it as necessary to develop / are personally interested in it)
- Direct financial support: 81,1 / 48,4
- Help in employment: 75,4 / 26,2
- In-kind aid (food, clothes, etc): 58,2 / 16,4
- Support in an accomplishment, repair of accommodation: 63,1 / 27,9
- Support in cleaning of appartments: 32,8 / 4,1
- Increase of pedagogical and psychological competence of parents: 77,9 / 26,2
- Development of mutual support between families: 54,9 / 13,1
- Legal aid : 68,0 / 30,3
- Psychological help to children and parents:82,9 / 31,3
- Programs of preparation to be parents for young families: 79,5 / 14,8
- Empathy and understanding of social services organizations’ specialists: 58,2 / 16,4
- Developing charity, sponsoring: 66,4 / 14,8
- Drug and alcohol preventive programs for children: 87,7 / 30,3
- Organization of family leisure time (parents with children): 78,7 / 35,2
- Organization of leisure time for parents: 52,5 / 12,3
- Baby sitting in out-of-school time: 56,5 / 25,4
- Home care of ill members of family: 45,1 / 8,2
- Accessible hobby groups for children: 86,1 / 54,1
- Accessible literature about up-bringing, rights’protection, health: 60,7 / 28,7
“Accessible hobby groups for children” is the most interesting point for parents. In the questionnaire was the question: “What are children would like to go in for, but it is impossible for any reasons?”.
The most frequently answers were:
- sports – 29,5%
- computer – 13,1%
- dances – 13,1%
- music – 11,5%
- learning foreign languages – 11,5% and also drawing, theatre, driving, embroidery.
As concerning the reasons, why it is impossible:
- absence in the town – 16,4%
- no money – 22,9%
- no time – 13,1%.
According to the children’s answers, 42,3% of them visit sport and hobby groups not less often than once a week, 31,1% are not interested in it. Children take interest in meeting with psychologists (54,5%) and 73,3 % of children think, that a helpline is necessary in the town.
Pedagogical competence of the parents
All participants evaluate the different needs connected with pedagogical competence in general much higher then personal needs.
For example 77,9 % of parents participated in the study believe that it was necessary to increase the pedagogical and psychological competence level of parents, and only 26.2 % think that they themselves have such kind of need.
- Need of accessible literature on questions of education, protection of rights, health in general supported 60,7% of respondents and personally 28,7% correspondingly
- getting legal assistance - 68,0% and 30,3% correspondingly
- psychological help to themselves and children 82,8% and 31,3% correspondingly
A personal interest in training programs for teenagers to protect them from drugs and alcohol abuse have 30,3 % of the respondents. But 87,7 % would like to have such programs in town. Also programs of preparation for being parents for young families have got wide support with 79,5%, though personally interest is rather low: 14,8% (perhaps parents think that it is already late for them, and still early for their children).
Parents’ interest in psychological consultations, lectures, trainings, conversations about education was showed while answering the open question on measures which would be useful to improvement of work with families. 26 (29,9%) parents from 87 persons have written suggestions which are related to these forms of work.
Nowadays there are a lot of publications on questions of education. Educated and “advanced” parents turn to it and know how to communicate with children correctly, but in fact they could be inconsistent. Parents try to react not aggressively in case of children’s faults (60,4% from the general number of parents’ reaction on a child’s fault, marked by them in questionnaires, have no aggressive character), but only 24,4% consider that physical punishments are inadmissible, and 75,6 % of parents tolerate corporal punishments in various situations, for instance, «when the child behaves disrespectfully, rude» (32,6%). The application of corporal punishment by parents testifies their feebleness in questions of upbringing and limited methods of influence on the child.
Participation of parents in education programs is the important and accessible tool to increase their social competence. The larger part of the interrogated parents would like to receive knowledge from literature on education, from experts at lectures, or «discussing and exchanging experience with other parents», and only 34,4% consider, that «know how to bring up the child» or «do not think of these questions».
Satisfaction with city infrastructure
Life of families depends in many respects on features of the district in which the family lives, on whether the environment is convenient and comfortable or not. This concerns especially families with children who have limited mobility and who “are adhered” to certain socialization institutes, use local establishments etc. The quality of the social environment influences whether it is difficult or not for parents to grow children, to carry out the parental duties and functions. This level of preventive work is pretty much in the competence of local authorities, and the satisfaction / dissatisfaction of the population is the important indicator of social policy’s success at a local level.
The analysis of opinions on the condition of the city environment objects shows, that there are significant territorial distinctions.
Respondents have expressed “dissatisfaction” towards
- Public health services - 82,8%
- School - 37.7%
- Cleanliness of streets and yards - 56.6%
- Children’s playgrounds - 57.4%
- Teenage clubs and hobby groups - 50.8%
- Stadiums, sports grounds - 52.1%
- Kindergarten - 34.4%
- Social services - 31.1%
- Transport - 38.5%
- Police - 52.5%
- Libraries - 18.0%
- Shops - 29.5%
- Recreation centers - 34.4%
- Cinemas - 29.7%
- Cafe - 27.7%
The results show that a significant number of participants are not satisfied with the conditions of the local infrastructure. Though the sample size on the different areas is not sufficient to consider the results as common, nevertheless, the high level of similarity in the opinions on certain points is a signal that it is necessary to understand the reasons of the existing situation.
Participants of the questionnaire marked what exactly does not satisfy them. Thus the dissatisfaction with health services is caused by the following reasons:
- «Bad equipment» - 43.6%;
- «Malevolence of staff» - 25.7%;
- «Incompetence of staff» - 25.7%;
- «Limited services» - 23.8%;
- «High price of services» - 21.8%;
- «Far from home» - 10.9%;
- «Inconvenient work time» - 5.9%.
Social services activities
Social work represents a field of activities characterized by the diversity problems to be solved, directions and methods of work, functions, criteria of estimation of efficiency etc. The data of this research show as well that social work with families and children is carried out on many directions and constantly extends due to the development of new directions and the introduction of new methods. The research with the experts’ answers a question «what functions are important in your work now?» testifies to multifunctionality. The following functions have been estimated as “extremely important”, (and as “rather important”)
- Rehabilitation - 75,0% (25.0%)
- Preventive - 61.7% (35.3%)
- Psychological support - 61.5% (32.3%)
- Diagnostic - 46.6% (41.4%)
- Material support - 32.7% (30.9%)
- Organizational - 32.2% (61.0%)
- Educational - 28.3% (51.7%)
- Prognostic - 13.0% (37.0%)
- Empowerment - 12.5% (42.9%).
By the received data empowerment is one of the intrinsic characteristics of preventive work and is perceived by the experts as important, but nevertheless a by-product of the work with the client. Empowerment, in that measure that the person has got the ability to cope with arising problems and better: to prevent their occurrence, is represented the most difficult purpose in work with many problem families, especially with alcohol abusing family members (according to experts interviews each second or third family with which social agencies deal with have alcohol abusing members). It once again confirms the value of primary prevention which helps to develop resources of the family to prevent the occurrence of problems or helps to cope with them more effectively.
The analysis of the methods used by experts in the work with parents and children shows that the most useful methods for formation/intensification of the adaptable potential of a person, increasing his/her activity, independence, responsibility are used not enough.
In the «minority of cases» or “never” used are the following methods in the work with parents:
- Trainings - 60.4%;
- Network therapy - 72.1%;
- Club work with family - 60.0%;
- Organization of mutual help groups - 65.9%;
- Group therapy - 56.3%;
- Education - 40.4%.
In the work with children:
- Trainings - 45.5% of answers;
- Network therapy - 65.0%;
- Club work with family - 59.1%.
Specialists understand quite exactly what problems and needs are typical for the population and what directions of help are more claimed.
As to the majority of points we can observe the similarity of opinions expressed by the specialists who work in different towns, but some types of help are estimated in different ways. So, the valuation of the necessity of help in employment assistance is higher in Priozersk (82,2% of responses of specialists), the valuation of the necessity of help with products and goods is higher in Vyborg (70,4%). But in Vyborg there is a lower value of the improvement and repairing of housing (25,9%) and of training programs for parenthood (59,3%)
Resources for the preventive work with children and families
According to the specialists the basic resources are infrastructure of government agencies, financing, professional training, activity of population, public organizations, mutual help of families, help of deputy, mass media. The above listed resources were estimated by the specialists with respect to their importance and sufficiency. The comparison of the received valuations shows that there is a imbalance between the importance of all types of resources and their sufficiency. The lack of financing is felt as the most sharp one: the majority evaluate it as an extremely important resource (81, 2%) and only 13 % as enough developed. The level of professional qualifications is extremely important for 87,0% and only about one-third of interviewees consider it as sufficient. In the opinion of the social workers the development of infrastructure falls behind. 58, 0% of the specialists think that it is extremely important and only 24,6 % evaluate it as enough developed.
Financing and professional qualifications as resources have an universal character and refer to social work in common. Their deficit, especially a lack of finances, is felt in the work of social services and makes difficult to provide help for families. The development of activities in the direction of social services and active work of primary prevention has probably to be done mainly in the case of the increase of financing. It seems, local authorities when they define the priorities and articles of expenditure, have to draw attention on the primary prevention of families’ ill-being on their territory.
Main problems of specialists in the work
In this part the main goal is to know the main problems of specialists in their work, what they would like to change in the organization of work. The responses on these questions can give an overview on the situation with internal resources of social services, extract the main factors which have negative influence on their activity.
According to the questioning following distribution is received:
- low wages - 82,1%
- financial domestic problems - 44,8%
- big work stress - 40,3%
- lack of professional knowledge - 28,4%
- transportation problem - 23,9%
- lack of mobile communication - 7,5%
- lack of recognition by colleagues - 6,0%
Among other problems were called: uncomfortable working hours, lack of qualified staff, incomplete software, no access to professional improvement and literature, absence of possibilities for career development, no possibility to use rationally finances for the institution, lack of exchange of experience and cooperation between same institutions, no wages for the specialists.
On the opinion of 27,7 % of specialists, some juridical difficulties for efficient work exist on federal and regional levels.
What could make the work more effective? Below we put suggestions of the specialists (as the specialists wrote them in the questionnaire):
- decrease responsibilities, because a lot of tasks are imposed on one specialist or to increase number of specialists who work with families;
- increase a number of specialists who work directly with children (psychologists, culture workers etc.);
- raise salaries, because there is a direct disparity of the charge and salary of social worker;
- involve public organizations for rendering assistance to concrete families;
- involve parents in the problems of their children, more active participation of parents in the life of their children;
- increase the financial support for the organization of leisure activities for children;
- increase the time of rehabilitation for children and work with families;
- enhance the duration of the psycho-pedagogical rehabilitation of children with disabilities and invalids, because 3 months per year are not sufficient;
- get more power for the organization of the work of institutions;
- create a flexible system of trainings for social workers and specialists of work with families who live in small towns and in the countryside.
Among the specialists enough pessimistic minds exist: “we would like to change a lot, but hat we really want to change, is not in our competence”.
The biggest part of propositions of social workers is about the material encouragement, the ptimization of the time sheet, the reduction of the level of bureaucratization, trainings of personnel and the attraction of new specialists, who work directly with families.
Professional education of staff
The lack of staff who is completely prepared for the social work, whatever direction we talk about, has evident explanations which are connected with the “youth” of the institution of social work in Russia. Social services were opening, but there were not graduated specialists of social work. That is why the formation of practical social work is realized by specialists-scholars from different fields, who need additional and more specific knowledge. The best part of staff of social work (according to the data of our previous studies in Saint-Petersburg more than 25%) consists of workers with technical education, who came in social work as a result of changes on the employment market. Data of the present research show the following distribution of specialists according to the factor of education.
- 55,1% have an education for the work with families and children including: high pedagogical -18,8%, high psychological – 5,7%, specialized secondary education in pedagogy – 8,6%, specialized secondary education in psychology – 1,4%, courses of social work with family and children – 11,3%, and any information about level of education – 9,3%.
- 28,8% of specialists have passed the further education programs on social work.
- 44,9% of respondents don’t have any education for the social work with family and children and did not pass any trainings.
Own practical experience as a source of knowledge has great significance, but it is more solid, when specialists rely on a fundamental basis. But the comprehension of the necessity of professional knowledge is caused by the fact that many specialists improve their qualifications themselves – 82,0% (do not improve – 7,2%, difficult to answer – 10,2%). Moreover, 80,3% receive their information from books by profession, 12,1% from magazines by profession, 6,1% during the discussions with colleagues, 1,5% from journals, radio and TV and nobody uses Internet.
So, the availability of special literature is especially important. On the question, if there is any library or methodical cabinet in the organization, where it is possible to take actual literature, to have access to the Internet, 53,8% answer positive, 9,2% answer negative and that they do not need any additional professional information and further 36,9% tell that they do not have it, but would need it.
The development of staff is considered as a key-task in modern management, the permanent education allows to have resources which are necessary for qualitative work. That is why the improvement of qualification has to have a regular character and has to be based on the analysis of needs of specialists in some knowledge.
It is well-known that the professional development of staff is not only a necessary condition for effective work, but it is also an important motivational factor, which strengthens the interest and adherence towards work even in the case when the salary is not sufficient.
At the present time 75,0% of interviewee specialists are going to continue to be occupied in social work, 22,1% have difficulties with that answer and 2,9% (1 person) want to change the work.
The results of the study demonstrate that the families who are socially adaptive also have a lot of different problems which could lead to difficult situations in the future. Social service organizations, governmental as well as non-governmental, should pay attention on different types of families and primary prevention should develop as much as possible.
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The authors work at the International Center of Social Service Studies (ICASSS) at the Faculty of Sociology of the St. Petersburg State University.
Correspond to firstname.lastname@example.org
March 24th, 2008
Ulrike Wisser, Brussels (EU, Belgium)
The 252 pages report “Child Poverty and Well-being in the EU, current status and way forward” from the Task-Force on child poverty indicator has finally been published on the website of the European Commission. The report is part of the implementation process of the European strategy to combat poverty and social exclusion of children in the EU. This issue being a common concern to all Member States, rapid and significant reduction of child poverty has proved to be a political priority of the EU at the beginning of the new century. In their 2006-2008 National Reports on Strategies for Social Protection and Social Inclusion (NRSSPSIs), the vast majority of the Member States prioritised the need to develop a strategic, integrated and long-term approach for preventing and alleviating poverty and social exclusion among children. For better monitoring of the different policies, a special task force was established by the Social Protection Committee (SPC), an advisory body of national ministries and the European Commission, supporting the implementation of the European strategy. The SPC has reserved a slot for an indicator on “child well-being” in the streamlined list of commonly agreed indicators for social inclusion that it adopted in June 2006. The task force followed up this process throughout the year 2007 and recently presented its report. Although the work hasn not yet resulted in a proposal of a concrete EU child well-being indicator, the report provides policy analysis at EU and Member States level.
The report consists of three parts: a review of child poverty and social exclusion in the EU, an overview about policy monitoring and assessment of child poverty and well-being in the EU and its Member States and conclusions on recommendations for SPC aiming at improving monitoring and assessment of child poverty and well-being at the EU and national level.
In its mandate, the task force agreed on seven dimensions of well-being and identified good examples of indicators within each of these dimensions: economic security and material situation; housing; local environment; health; education; social relationships and family environment, and exposure to risk and risk behaviour. The situation of vulnerable children (children in orphanages, disabled children, migrant children, children from minorities, children growing up in deprived areas, etc.) is being addressed as a “transversal” category.
Based on questionnaires to all 28 Member States, the experts have published a summary of the most important data sources used by countries for monitoring their policies in the field of child poverty and child well-being. Furthermore, the report provides a description of the main types of indicators used in the policy monitoring systems and more detailed insight into monitoring arrangements in eight selected Member States, following different concepts (Denmark, Ireland, Finland, UK, Portugal, Italy, Romania and Germany).
The table on page 71 gives an overview on the main items covered by existing administrative data sources:
- recipients of child-related social allowances (BE, DK, DE, EE, ES, FR, IE, IT, LV, LT, HU,MT, AT, PL, PT, RO, SK, FI, SE);
- health status of children (BE, DK, IT, HU, MT, FI, SK, SE);
- income, taxes and transfers, poverty (DK, DE, IT, LT, HU, AT, PT, FI, SE);
- housing (DK, IT);
- childcare facilities (BE, DK, ES, IT, LT, LU, MT, AT, RO, SK, FI, SE);
- employment (DK, DE, FR, SE);
- education (BE, DK, FR, IE, IT, LV, HU, MT, AT, PL, PT, RO, SK, SE);
- population (DK, IT, MT, AT, RO, SE);
- justice (DK, IT, AT, LV, MT, PT, SK);
- after-school care, leisure, sport (DK, IT, AT, SK, SE, UK).
Besides, the report lists existing specific data sources, surveys on children (mostly longitudinal surveys implemented at national level) and presents a couple of “very innovative survey methods”, which are based on direct interviews with children.
In the concluding chapter, the task force experts express their opinions on future policy shaping and monitoring of child poverty and well-being in a set of 15 recommendations.
Recommendation 1 suggests that national overall quantified objectives for the reduction of child poverty and social exclusion need to be based on a diagnosis of the causes of poverty and social exclusion in each country. It also concludes that they have to be supplemented by specific objectives relating to the key factors identified by the diagnosis (e.g. jobless households, in-work poverty, social benefits, etc.).
In order to improve the measurement of child well-being, the task force proposes to:
- reflect on how the existing EU indicators can be complemented by derived indicators and statistics that better reflect the situation of households with children (e.g., labour market participation of parents and amended version of the “work intensity” variable for analysing poverty risk);
- take account of the child dimension when developing indicators of material deprivation and housing;
- develop one or several child well-being indicators to cover the important dimensions of child well-being that are still missing or not satisfactorily covered within the EU framework (health, exposure to risk and risk behaviour, education, social participation and family environment, local environment);
- draw up suggestions on how to best monitor the living conditions of children in vulnerable situations (e.g., children in institutions, children in foster care, children with chronic health problems or disabilities, abused children, street children, children from a migrant or minority background, etc.).
Those recommendations are, among other elements, addressed to Member States’ authorities that are setting up the national strategic plans for combating poverty and social exclusion in the period 2008 to 2011. The further development of child well-being indicators will be subject to further debate at EU level.
Ulrike Wisser works as policy adviser in the field of EU youth, education and social politics at BBJ Servis gGmbH, Brussels office.
March 24th, 2008
Report on the First Congress of the Swiss Society for Social Work (SSSW) in Lucerne, 6th -8th March 2008
Christian Reutlinger, St. Gallen (Switzerland)
The First Congress of the Swiss Society for Social Work (SSSW) positioned questions and challenges related to the transformation of the social concerning the social work as science, practice and education. The main topics of discussion addressed the fast-moving changes of the society in the last 30 Years.
“The changes which accompany the society pass through it as well as across each individual generation”, which separate those terms from each other. “In the centre of interest were the changes of the productive forces and in there the changes of the individual, meant structurally, as far as it concerns their requirements and also individually, understanding the changes in the demands of the individuals” - points the German sociologist Frigga Haug in her main paper.
On the one hand a current discourse for defining the “Transformation of the social” was built up, which connected the three main fields of science, education and practice. On the other hand, a very specific atmosphere was created, where all so far separated discussions about social work from the three big language regions (Italian, French and German) could come together with their own stories and reports. This was very important for the special general conditions Switzerland provided with its multilingualism as well as geographically accepted as the center of Europe.
The varying traditions in social work and the specific responses to the transformation of the social became visible through the created atmosphere. Furthermore, the question about the positioning of the social work as a discipline in a local and international context was raised.
- Which developments, innovations, potentials and boundaries could social work, as part of the social, assert?
- Which innovative thoughts / ideas and approaches of activity might social work, concerning the social, contribute?
These questions were analyzed in the main reports, for example by the French sociologist Robert Castel in his paper “The impact of the activation policy on the social work”.
Next to these famous names, the subject was pointed for discussion also by young researchers who presented and examined theoretically their empirical results. The theoretic-conceptual papers were predominant, while the practical orientated were rather less represented.
The variety of local, mainly form the west and the German part of Switzerland, but also international participants (Germany, France, Belgium, Canada or Portugal) was a sign for the successful achievement of the goals on one hand. On the other hand a very important step towards the profiling of the social work in the Swiss context was done.
The tradition for organizing an international Congress every second year was successfully initiated. The location of the congress – Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts-in the middle of a mountain hill and in the lake district, played for sure an important role in this decision. Geneva was chosen as a place for discussion for the next congress.
Christian Reutlinger is professor for social work at the FHS St.Gallen, University of Applied Sciences (Switzerland).
March 24th, 2008
The first international congress of the Swiss Association for Social Work (March 6th to 8th in Lucerne, Switzerland) ended with a political declaration. You find the declaration here. To sign it please got to this website.
March 24th, 2008