NUMBER 77 • 31 JULY 2002 • COMPETENCE-CENTRED, ECOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE
INDEX OF QUOTES
Everyday life in a residential care setting is marked by a myriad of events or experiences as young people and the members of the staff go about living together. Some of these are dramatic or attention-getting events, but most are routine or ordinary occurrences. Some typical examples might include the following:
- A recently arrived youth has run away.
- A nine-year-old boy cries uncontrollably as he realizes that his father has again failed to visit him.
- Two youths are fighting as everyone else is getting ready to go to school.
- A 12-year-old boy has just learned that he is failing at school.
- A ten-year-old girl refuses to participate in her groups activities.
- Mass confusion reigns at the dinner table.
- A 14-year-old girl, about to go for a visit with her family, is acting up in her cottage.
- An angry adolescent is destructively dominating a group of boys intent on completing a difficult climb.
As staff members who provide a major portion of round-the-clock care, supervision, and resources for children and youths in group care (Maier 1977), direct care workers usually find themselves in the midst of these and countless similar incidents. How do they react? How should they react? How can they use these experiences to promote each child’s or youth’s best interests? Such questions constantly confront child and youth care workers. Their greatest challenge is to use life events the ordinary as well as the dramatic ones — as extraordinary opportunities to enhance the growth and development of young people in their care.
This task is a crucial challenge since, by virtue of their close involvement, direct care workers play a powerful role in the lives of children and youths who are placed in residential settings … The positive influence of this role can be maximized if, in their relationships with individuals and groups, child care workers use a competence-centred, ecological perspective, regarding the promotion of competence in children and youths as one of their most important functions. The essence of this perspective is that, rather than being preoccupied with pathology, workers recognize each person’s natural strivings toward growth and promote effective functioning by focusing on his or her unique coping and adaptive patterns, mobilizing his or her actual and potential strengths, removing obstacles, and prodding supports in the person’s environment (Maluccio 1981a, 1981b, 1983).
— ANTHONY MALUCCIO
Maluccio, A. Interpersonal and group life in residential group care: A competence-centred ecological perspective. In Beker, J. and Eisikovits, Z. (1991) (eds.) Knowledge utilization in residential child and youth care practice. Washington: CWLA
Maier, H.W. (1977) Child Welfare: Child care workers. In Encyclopedia of Social Work (17th issue) (Vol.1) Washington DC: National Association of Social Workers
Maluccio, A.N. (1981a). Promoting Competence — A New/Old Approach to Social Work Practice. New York: The Free Press.
Maluccio, A.N. (1981b). Promoting client and worker competence in child welfare. In The Social Welfare Forum - 1980. New York: Columbia University Press
Maluccio, A.N. (1983). Planned use of life experiences. In Rosenblatt, A., and Waldfogel, D. (eds.) Handbook of Clinical Social Work, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass