In the human services field, ethical concerns and dilemmas are very common. Human services professionals interact with a diverse clientele; therefore, they must be aware of a variety of issues including multicultural differences, consent and confidentiality procedures, appropriate relationship boundaries, and conflicts of interest. For each of these considerations and issues, there are related ethical considerations when working with every population. Ethical concerns and considerations are escalated when the target population (clients) for a program is considered at risk or vulnerable in any way. It is the responsibility of human services professionals to protect, inform, and otherwise respect their clients.
Because of the importance of addressing ethical concerns, the National Organization for Human Services (NOHS), the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), and other professional organizations have developed comprehensive codes of ethics. In this Discussion, you will explore ethical issues that may arise in the human services field, and you will consider how the NOHS code of ethics can help to guide the actions of human services professionals experiencing ethical dilemmas.
To prepare for this Discussion:
- Review the selected readings in your course text, focusing on the types of information that might be gathered for measuring needs. Reflect on the potential ethical issues that could arise when gathering information from at-risk populations and how you can guard against unethical behavior or processes.
- Review the article “Ethical Guidelines for Designing and Conducting Evaluations of Social Work Practice,” focusing on the difference between social science research activities and evaluations of social work practice. Think about the important role of human services professionals in designing ethical programs that not only assist clients but also protect them from unethical practices.
- Review the article “Applying Ethical Standards to Research and Evaluations Involving Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Populations.” Think about how the population you are working with influences what is considered to be ethical.
- Review the article “Choosing a Truly External Evaluator,” focusing on the responsibility of the social service professional to ensure ethical behavior from all parties involved in a program.
- Review the article “Toward a More Public Discussion of the Ethics of Federal Social Program Evaluation.” Consider the potential consequences of failing to outline specific ethical standards.
- Review the information found on the NOHS website. Think about the importance of having such detailed standards and how you could use them in decision making.
- Select an at-risk population that is of interest to you. Reflect on the types of ethical decisions you might face when working with members of this population.
With these thoughts in mind:
- Do a brief description of the at-risk population you selected. Then explain at least two ethical concerns you should be aware of when working with this population. Finally, explain how you might address these concerns. Justify your response using the NOHS code of ethics.