Empowerment and Child Welfare Clients



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University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work


Empowerment is a key element of social work practice. The NASW Code of Ethics (NASW, 1999) begins with the statement “The primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty” (p. 1). Although the Code of Ethics clearly states an obligation on the part of social workers to empower their clients, it does not define this complex concept. A 1994 article in the NASW journal Social Work does define it, saying that empowerment has two parts: (a) personal empowerment, which is similar to self-determination and recognizes the inherent uniqueness of each client, and (b) social empowerment, which acknowledges that individuals cannot be separated from their environment and that people must have access to certain resources to be able to influence that environment (Cowger, 1994).



Rebecca G. Mirick, Perspectives on Social Work, Child Protective Services, Child Welfare, Social work, Perspectives on Social Work, Child Protective Services, Child welfare