For Instructors - Carla Washburn

The Case of Carla Washburn

This case is perhaps the simplest case, as Carla is the only identified client. Her case is about aging (she is 74 years old), loss (of her grandson, in Afghanistan; and her husband years earlier); and the plight of living in a deteriorating neighborhood. However, my principal goal in constructing the case this way was to highlight two important principles: (1) much of social work is about mutuality: often two systems have, within their power, the ability to meet each others’ needs, but they are unable to see it. Our job, then, is to link those systems together for the benefit of both. Second, the problems of Plainville invite the student to look at the impact of social factors (such as rising unemployment) on communities. It also invites you, the instructor, to engage students in an important discussion about the Risk Factors and Protective Factors model for creating healthy communities.

Clients (and their interdependencies)

1. Carla Washburn—the identified client. She has health problems (Type II diabetes), and she is living in isolation. There has been an uptick in crime in her neighborhood.

2. Reverend James Smith—he is a dynamic new pastor, who has taken a position at Carla’s church. He needs to make contact with those in the church who know the people, who might be interested in helping with programming as volunteers. Could Carla be one of those people? What are the attributes that she has that suggest that this might be possible?

3. Loretta Minor—she is a friend of Carla’s, and drops in on her. But she sees Carla as beyond her reach due to Carla’s grief over the loss of her child. However, they go to church together, and they are both concerned about the uptick in crime in the neighborhood. Might these two make the nucleus of a “natural helping network”? If Reverend Smith reaches out to Carla, and Loretta, they might be able to do something together to help the church. The activities that they start might give kids a place to go so that petty crime would be lessened.

4. The Jackson Family—the Jackson family care for their granddaughter, Lila, while her mother serves a prison sentence. The issue of grandparents raising grandchildren is a persistent theme in this case. You might want to talk about its prevalence in your state, and the common issues associated with it. The Jacksons cannot be home when Lila gets out of school. Do they have a mutuality of need with the Johnson family?

5. The Johnson Family—the Johnsons are immediate neighbors of Carla Washburn. Like the Jacksons, they cannot continuously monitor their children after school. They used to rely on Lila, who was older, to help shepherd their kids to and from school. But lately, they are concerned about Lila’s influence.

Since Carla Washburn is home all the time, might she be a point of contact for these children? Could she, for example, drop in on the Johnson children after school just to make sure they got home safely?

What does the Risk and Protective Factors document suggest might be helpful to these families?

Please note: There is only one set of critical thinking questions for this case, and those are for Carla Washburn. This is because she is the only identified client. However, the interaction matrix details for the student the complex relationships between the persons identified in this case, and the various schools, agencies, and resources that they might use in their work with this case.

A Note to instructors about the Carla Washburn Case
- Fall, 2011

by Alice A. Lieberman, University of Kansas

If You Have Any Questions or Comments About This or Any Other Case on Our Website, Please Contact Me Via Email. I Really Do Answer Very Quickly! My Email Is Alicel@Ku.Edu. Thanks!