New publication of the RILSA

Hubíková, Olga – Havlíková, Jana

Depistáž v sociální práci na obecních úřadech / Outreach in social work at municipal offices

Praha: RILSA, 2020. 204 pp., ISBN 978-80-7416-356-2 (print); 978-80-7416-369-2 (pdf)

The study is focused on the outreach performance in social work at municipal offices. At the time of the study, the legislation in force obliges to conduct outreach at municipal, but not specifically enough. Among other things, more detailed definition of outreach for practice is not available as well as elaboration of outreach procedures, methodological supervision and guidance and a comprehensive way of recording. The aim of the empirical research was to capture and describe how social workers of the municipal offices understand outreach, in what ways and to what extent outreach is currently performed at municipal offices, what practical aspects related to outreach are dealt with, including potential obstacles and risks. A mixed qualitative-quantitative methodology was used for the research. First, an exploratory qualitative survey was carried out. The data were collected by means of semi-structured interviews with social workers of municipal authorities and their immediate superiors. Interviews were conducted with 30 communication partners from 9 municipal offices of different types as far as size, character of administrative district, presence of socially excluded locality and other relevant criteria were concerned. Based on the initial analyzes, a focus group with social workers of those municipal offices, which were not involved in the qualitative survey, was carried out to deepen and complete selected previous findings. A validation quantitative survey in the form of on-line questionnaire survey focused on social workers of municipal authorities and their direct superiors followed. 675 respondents took part in the survey, which amounts to approximately 49% response rate.

The research results indicate inconsistent outreach conceptions of social workers of municipal offices, uncertainties about the aims and ideas of whom outreach should be focused on, about outreach boundaries etc. Alongside, the data from both qualitative research phases reveal a large variety of specific applied procedures, practical experience, strategies and tips for outreach conducting in various environments and sometimes great invention and creativity of social workers. At the same time, empirical findings point to deficiency in formal integration of outreach in the activity of municipal social workers, in particular rate of not inclusion of outreach in written job description of frontline social workers. Furthermore, there was varying degrees of support of the outreach performance by the municipality managements and problems with creating conditions favorable for the outreach performance. Several empirical outreach types could be identified and labeled from the partial concepts and various ways of outreach performance that were captured in the collected data. At the end of the study, in addition to the proposal for a more general definition of outreach for municipal social work, a comprehensive typology of outreach for municipal social work practice based on the identified empirical types of outreach is outlined and explained; it distinguishes two basic types of outreach, namely individual or group-specific outreach and location-specific outreach. Within these two types, a total of five screening variants are defined in more detail.

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