Mission Statement of DAC Social Workers: DAC Social Workers support attorneys and legal staff to provide zealous representation to clients. Social workers advocate on behalf of clients and encourage clients to empower themselves by taking a proactive role in reunifying with their children. Social workers utilize a strengths-based model of practice and believe that a client’s voice is essential to address his or her legal needs.
Dependency Advocacy Center (DAC) has been innovative in utilizing in-house and contract social workers in concert with traditional legal services to provide the highest level of representation for its clients. A social worker’s training, experience and role greatly differ from that of an attorney, but are also naturally compatible with an attorney’s advocacy for a client in the dependency arena. The primary purpose of utilizing DAC social workers is to provide clinical expertise to support and enhance the legal position asserted on behalf of the client.
All DAC social workers have a Masters in Social Work or comparable graduate degree. DAC social workers are required to participate in trainings relevant to dependency, including monthly systems trainings, in-house DAC trainings, and outside trainings on topics such as domestic violence, mental health, and drug and alcohol addiction.
DAC social workers provide a multitude of services to our clients, which are not intended to replace or duplicate those services offered by the DFCS social worker. The following are types of services that may be provided by DAC Social Workers, as appropriate:
- Limited or ongoing case management
- Make referrals to community services
- Conduct assessments and submit written reports to Attorneys and the Court
- Interface with various service providers offering direct services to clients
- Participate in alternative dispute resolution forums and attend court dates
- Attend visitation between parent and child as part of an assessment
- Expert testimony
The social worker’s ability to maintain an independent and objective professional assessment of a case is crucial to DAC’s Social Worker Program. If a DAC social worker’s assessment does not support the attorneys’ legal position or theory of the case, the social worker will not alter their position to conform to the attorneys’ position.
All of the services offered through the DAC Social Worker Program strive to provide greater advocacy to the client and to present balanced information to the court so that a fair decision can be made.