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Sister’s Keeper – Decision Case



Case Synopsis

Trudy Atherton and Rickie Norris, social workers in the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) juvenile justice system, struggled to help Debbie Richards, a drug-abusing teenager concerned with parental neglect of her five-year-old sister. Responding to a crisis without clear agency guidelines, they considered the imperfect realities of the child welfare system while weighing the ethical, legal, and practice issues involved with mandated reporting. Issues of faith and conscience emerged as Rickie identifies with the teen’s professed religion. In a dual role as both social worker and fellow Christian, Rickie felt responsible to insure a supportive Christian environment for Debbie and her sister.

Intended Case Use

This case is appropriate for either undergraduate or graduate levels. Both workers address issues of mandated reporting and case collaboration with another agency and within the same agency. In addition, the MSW worker considers treatment issues which may result from reporting and struggles with the impact of her faith on practice. This case can be used to provide specialized instruction in child welfare, juvenile justice, ethics, and spirituality, as well as general instruction in direct practice courses.

Author/Speaker: Christine Kessen

No part of this electronic copy of case may be reproduced, revised, translated, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means — electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise — without the written permission of NACSW.


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