Social Work and the Courts: A Casebook

By Daniel Pollack | Go to book overview

IMPLICATIONS: When a state affirmatively acts to remove a child from the custody of one parent and then places the child with a foster parent, the law does not preclude constitutional liability. Courts are increasingly looking into the ways in which public agency social workers are doing their day-to-day jobs. Although the legal principle of qualified immunity will protect most employees most of the time, employees who blatantly fail to heed warning signs of abuse or potential abuse will not be protected from liability. Best practice dictates that home studies and background checks must be conducted whenever the government places a child. Thus, although agency employees remain underfunded and overworked, this is not a defense to a charge of professional malpractice and tort liability. Although in general, public agencies are not required to prevent harm to a child, civil lawsuits may succeed when a child suffers maltreatment after an agency worker knew or should have known that the child was improperly placed in a dangerous setting.


REFERENCES & READINGS
Graham, J. (2002). All our futures: Principles and resources for social work practice in a global era. Families in Society,83(1), 105-106.
Reamer, F. (2000). The social work ethics audit: A risk-management strategy. Social Work,45(4), 355-366.
Weithorn, L. (2001). Protecting children from exposure to domestic violence: The use and abuse of child maltreatment. Hastings Law Journal,53, 1-156.
Witkin, S. (2001). Whose evidence and for what purpose? Social Work,46(4), 293-297.

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