Ethical Situation Related to the Division of Family and Children Services of Georgia

The Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) of Georgia is responsible for providing support and assistance for children in need living in the state while following the legal norms and standards. It is important to analyze an ethical situation related to the DFCS’s activities according to the ETHIC Decision-Making Model, and the situation selected for further analysis involves the case of David Ray. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the situation applying the ETHIC Decision-Making Model with the focus on each component and decide on making an ethical decision for a dilemma.

The ethical situation under discussion is the case of David Ray, a 15-year-old male who suffers from seizures. He was taken away from home under the supervision of the DFCS because it became known that he had used marijuana to cope with his condition.

His parents Matthew and Suzeanna Brill were arrested (Corley, 2018). After returning home, David Ray cannot use marijuana anymore, and the DFCS is responsible for monitoring the family in order to guarantee the boy’s safety. An ethical dilemma is associated with the fact that, in spite of DFCS’s legally reasonable actions, David Ray suffers from significant and frequent seizures without marijuana (Corley, 2018). The problem is that Epidiolex proposed as an alternative medication is not available in Georgia, as well as medical marijuana.

This dilemma should be discussed with reference to the ETHIC Decision-Making Model. The first step is the examination of personal, social, client, and agency values. The key values that should be identified at this stage are the client’s safety, health, and well-being, the adherence to legal norms and standards, and the avoidance of illegal and potentially harmful behaviors. The second step is thinking about how the Code of Ethics proposed by the National Association of Social Workers (2018) can be applied to this situation.

Referring to the nature of service, “social workers’ primary goal is to help people in need and to address social problems,” as it is stated by the National Association of Social Workers (2018, para. 6). From this perspective, social professionals of the DFCS acted ethically and according to the legal and moral standards to ensure that the interests of the client in need are protected.

The third step is hypothesizing regarding the consequences of possible decisions. If social workers do not react to David Ray’s case and the boy continues consuming marijuana, significant adverse effects on his health are possible because of problems with controlling the quality of cannabis in Georgia.

However, the quality of the boy’s life can be improved because of the decreased frequency of seizures. If social workers actively react to the parents’ illegal and unethical behavior, the boy will suffer from more seizures in the future without having access to appropriate medications. The fourth step is identifying actors who will benefit or will be harmed because of the situation. In both cases, risks for David Ray’s health are high, and he will be harmed when taking or non-taking marijuana. The fifth step is consulting with colleagues to resolve the issue.

Finally, to make an informed and ethical decision related to the discussed dilemma, it is necessary to propose a certain course of actions to take. Thus, referring to the Code of Ethics and the consultation with colleagues, it is possible to decide that David Ray’s treatment under the supervision of the DFCS is an ethically relevant decision. After the boy’s return to home, the family’s life should be monitored and the use of marijuana should be predicted.

However, valuing the dignity of a person and addressing a client’s needs, it is advisable to discuss variants of how the Brills can receive Epidiolex to cope with David Ray’s condition with the state authorities. Thus, an ethically appropriate decision in this case should address legal standards and ethical principles and meet the client’s interests.

References

Corley, L. (2018). Charges dropped against Georgia couple who allowed their teen to smoke pot to fight seizures; family reunited. The Telegraph. Web.

The National Association of Social Workers. (2018). Code of ethics. Web.