“Two weeks ago, Care2 reported that Spanish social services had taken a baby away because her mother refused to wean. The mother, known as Habiba, had moved into a women’s shelter in Madrid with her 15 month old daughter, known as Alma. On May 31, Habiba’s daughter was taken away from her because she refused to forcibly wean her baby. Habiba was also criticized for cosleeping with her baby instead of putting her in a cot. On June 22, they were finally reunited after a social services committee overturned the earlier removal.Louma Sader Bujana, one of the bloggers who translated materials into English and helped to bring international coverage to the story, wrote about the reunification on her blog Amor Maternal. She translated and shared an official update from Fundacion Raices, an organization that had been supporting Habiba:
Apparently this is not an isolated incident on the world scene.
It is a very sad commentary on how women and children are treated.
This story is both sad and deplorable.
There are many points here that bother me but the fact that social services was involved in this situation is particularly disturbing.
Here in the United States, many times the depiction of the “social worker” is one that takes children from their parents and puts them in protective custody due to suspected child neglect or abuse. This task is usually carried out by a social service caseworker who is not a Licensed Social Worker. Caseworkers sometimes receive specific training by the state in which they work but they are not necessarily Licensed Social Workers, who in many states have a Masters degree in social work.
That being said, Licensed Social Workers in the United States would be expected by their National Association of Social Work (NASW) Code of Ethics to treat the person in their environment and try to maintain the mother-child bond if possible.
I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and am disturbed by the implication that a professional social worker is many times associated with such situations as the one in this news story.
As a profession, licensed social workers must dispel the notion that social service caseworkers are synonomous with licensed social workers. We must clarify what a Licensed Clinical Social Worker is and what they actually do when it comes to child and family services.
Licensed social workers are expected to help and advocate for those in need not impose undue distress on an already stressful situation such as homelessness.
We also owe it to the global community to condemn the actions of social services that promote taking a child away from its mother and forced to wean as was done in Spain.