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Social Workers' Perceptions of the Parentified Child in High-Risk Families : Strengths, Needs, and Challenges
The purpose of this study is to explore the parentified child in high-risk families through social workers` perceptions, and challenges social workers encountered in providing services. The study includes culture factors, apart from exploring the impact of domestic family and filial piety culture on parentalization, we find that social workers` beliefs can also affect the parentified child they saw. In addition, we explore the feasibility of legislation in parentified child, and discuss the filial piety award with high-risk social workers. The study interviewed nine senior high-risk social workers through face-to-face depth interviews, the results were as follow: I.Social workers' perceptions of the parentified child in high-risk families Social workers observed parentified child by interacting with family members, or learned about the children through school teachers. Social workers think that shortage of family economic, poor caring functions or insufficient caring resources, and poor marital relationship of parents make the reason why the parentified child existed. They also see the impact of parentalization on the family and the children. Additionally, they think that the parentified child has been concerned, parent-child and peer interaction, life planning, emotional expression and so on as talking about demands. II.Services and challenges the high-risk social workers encountered Most respondents refer to they provide family-centered services, however, some will focus on parents, and others on children. On the other hand, the difficulties and challenges social workers met were the time limit of services, resource allocation, the assessing gap of cooperation network, professional skills and reflection ability of social workers, transference and the challenges of the professional boundaries. Finally, we discuss the feasibility of legislation in parentified child, and most of the social workers didn`t think about this issue before the interview, however, if it`s to legislate, it needs to gather consensus to avoid the possible disadvantages, and make sure the benefits and the influences to the children. III.Social workers` beliefs on the parentified child Social workers` beliefs on the parentified child were influenced by their own growth experiences and values. In addition, some social workers see that children accept their own fate, but some feel they can strive to change their own fate, or reduce the child`s burden through services. Social workers also mentioned that the forms of parentified child are quite different from past to present, it needs to understand the family context and the dynamics of family members, and see the family`s strengths. The services should have localization, self-awareness and reflection are also important lessons to social workers. At last, we discuss the filial piety award. Some social workers see the benefits and impacts on the children or the family behind the award, others worry that it will cause pressure and label to the children after over rendering, and still others think it`s a prosocial praise. Lastly, according to the results mentioned above, some suggestions were proposed: I.In policy The study results find it takes a long time to legislate, however, if it will legislate in the future, it can define the parentified child and make the assessment tools, starting from “The Protection of Children and Youths Welfare and Rights Act”, and increase propaganda. II.In practice In practice, it can develop more parentified child service programs, according to children`s needs providing thorough services, and increase communication between different networks to reduce the conflicts. It can also establish complete parentified department, cooperating with communities, enhancing social workers` cultural sensitivities, seeing family`s strengths, enhancing the sensitivities of transference, and deel with the relationship boundaries through professional training. Finally, about the filial piety award, it is recommended to use more specific terms to encourage children`s performances.
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