Social Workers' Perceptions of Competence in Article 81, Guardianship Hearings: New York State
Hanus, Rebecca M.
MetadataShow full item record
This qualitative study aims to understand the perceived experiences of social workers when providing court testimony in Article 81 guardianship hearings, by addressing questions about the level of comfort, knowledge and skills social workers experience when testifying. This study uses a phenomenological framework, and empowerment theory to help social workers provide effective testimony for clients. The study investigates how social workers' perceptions of the effectiveness of their testimony impact the advocacy outcomes in the courtroom. It then identifies characteristics that made social workers perceive their testimony as more or less effective, including preparation and feelings of empowerment. Thirty-one participants participated in this study; all had a Master's degree in social work and had testified in Article 81 proceedings. Their experiences testifying were documented through phone interviews. The results indicate that many social workers who provide testimony in Article 81 guardianship hearings do not feel prepared when testifying. Social workers' preparation and feelings of empowerment help provide explanatory data related to perceptions. The study's relevance is grounded on the expectation that by 2050 life expectancy will increase by 20% thereby increasing the need for social workers to achieve competence in court testimony related to guardianship. The study examines the preparedness of social workers in court proceedings and identifies remedies for shoring up competence in this area.