Impact of Family Social Work Intervention on the Holistic Development of Children

Name and address of the principal investigator:


Fr. Saju M D

Asst professor

Dept of Social Work, Rajagiri College of Social Sciences,

Rajagiri P O, Kalamassery,


Kerala, India


Name and address of the institution:


Rajagiri College of Social Sciences, (Affiliated to Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam)

Rajagiri P O, Kalamassery,


Kerala, India

Executive summery

Family is the most important resource for the holistic development of the children especially a country like India where the social security measures are inadequate due to poor budgetary allocation. Social workers due to their theoretical foundations, practice skills and value based approach are experts in the area of family interventions. Social work interventions focusing on partnership between family and school, works better for the development of the children because the children spend substantial amount of their time in these institutions, they acquire foundations of intellectual, physical, social, emotional and ethical values from these institutions. School and family are complementary and school can act as a buffer system for all the inadequacies of the families, provided the school system is sensitive enough to identify the children with disturbances within the school setting and make use of evidence based culturally appropriate, cost effective methods of interventions without any delay.


The Social Work intervention package was developed based on the ‘Theory of Change’ model. Supervision was used as an effective tool to ensure quality of the intervention.


Theoretical Foundation of the study


This research assumes that currently diagnosed children with severe disorders were moderate and current moderate were mild in the past. Timely interventions would have helped them to arrest the deterioration, reduce the negative outcomes and realize their full potentials. Psycho social, psycho dynamic and psych analytic paradigm together with attachment theory helped to understand the complexities of the mind. Various models and approaches of social case work laid the theoretical foundations of the research.


Statement of the problem


Every child is born with potential to succeed and achieve throughout the years of schooling, fulfilling the development tasks and managing hazards of development, provided the school creates adequate opportunities from day one of the schooling. Middle class and lower middle class families fulfill their aspirations through the success of their children. Therefore failure to equip the children to achieve will have negative outcomes for their entire family, society, country and Nation as a whole. A feasible intervention model was designed in the present study to test it for its efficacy and standardize the process and procedures so that it can be extrapolated to similar settings to identify the children with difficulties and plan, implement and evaluate the interventions.


Objectives of the study


Research looked into family risk factors and protective factors, assessed the effectiveness of training teachers for assessment, design social work methods based service delivery system utilizing the student trainees and to develop a supervisory model on the basis of reflective practitioner paradigm.



Many hypotheses were tested such as effectiveness of teachers’ training in identifying children with disorders, impact of family risk factors on the child related outcomes, effectiveness of supervision and effectiveness of social work interventions to reduce behavioural and emotional disturbances in children as well as improving their cognitive functioning and academic performance.


Research Design

The study was a quasi experimental with pre and post assessment. There was a comparison group to identify major risk factors and protective factors for outcomes in children.

The intervention Group was selected by the teachers using the inclusion criteria; children with low academic performance, having behavioral and emotional disturbances, children who disturb the normal class room functioning and fail to abide by the school norms, children under the influence of alcohol and drugs, children addicted to pornographic materials, children with inappropriate sexual behaviours and children frequently take leave.


Comparison Group

The comparison group of respondents was selected based on their academic performance. The children who scored above 80% (Distinction) from each of the divisions, from first standard to tenth, were selected to be part of the comparison group. Academic performance was taken as important variable assuming that it is an important indicator of good mental health.


The Universe of the study was all the children enrolled in the registers of St. Theresa’s High School, Manappuram, Alappuzha during the year 2012- 2013. St. Theresa’s High School, is an aided school with 1169 children of which 629 were girls and 540 were boys.

Unit of the study: The unit of study was every child studying in St. Theresa’s High School, Manappuram, Alappuzha District, Kerala.



Sampling was done in two phases. The Intervention group consisted of 128 children selected by the teachers based on assessment skills acquired through teachers’ training program. There was a comparison group which consisted of 139 children selected based on better academic performance.


Tools of data Collection

Tools of data collection included Socio Demographical profile of children, Psychotherapy file developed by Anthony Ryle (2002), major components were Traps, Dilemmas to self and others and Snags), Mayer Gross format of assessment (Gross. et al,.1969) and Child Behavioural checklist (T. Achenbac., 2001).

Analysis of data


  1. Baseline data collection

    Base line data was collected from both the intervention group and comparison group in the beginning of the study, in the month of July 2012. Intervention

  2. Development and implementation through mechanism of supervision and coordination, Post Intervention assessment

Statistical Design

The data were analyzed using SPSS 21 software.


Ethical considerations;

Informed consent of the parents of the respondents was obtained before the study and confidentiality was assured.

Major Findings


The number of girls is slightly higher in the school. There were 66 male and 62 female children participated in the intervention. Family history of mental illness, history of suicide in the family, history of epilepsy were significantly more in intervention group compared to comparison group.


Both parents of children from the comparison group had stable jobs. Inadequate role functioning was significantly more intense in the intervention group. In the intervention group the risk factors were environment specific and were driven by social factors. Alcohol consumption in fathers was significantly high in intervention group. The mothers from intervention group had higher level of stress during pregnancy; favorable history of breast feeding was seen in the comparison group.


Childhood neurotic complaints and childhood infections were more in intervention group. The comparison group had significantly better attachment with immediate care giver and had healthy communication between family members. The families of children of intervention group had significantly high expressed emotions. Children from the comparison group had higher quality of interpersonal interactions and significantly higher level of social skills. Children from the intervention group had significantly higher level of behavioural symptoms. The intervention group had significantly higher levels of cognitive traps, snags and dilemma related to self and others.




Evidence based social work interventions are possible by the social work trainees using their mandatory field work hours with the help of continuous supervision. Systematic training and continuous support helps the teachers to become reliable resource to assess and manage. It is high time to develop customized cost effective evidence based models of intervention that are theoretically sound, culturally adapted, socially acceptable and economically viable, for promotion, primary, secondary and tertiary prevention in children with difficulties.