Date of Conferral

2019

Degree

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

School

Social Work

Advisor

Debora Rice

Abstract

Little information exists about challenges that bilingual clinical social workers face when engaging individuals with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) in forensic settings, which may influence the efficacy of services provided. Bilingual clinical social workers in the U.S. state of South Carolina lack operational guidelines to assist people with LEP who are involved in forensic matters. The purpose of this study was to explore challenges that affect delivery of bilingual clinical social work to people with LEP in forensic settings. Ecological systems theory served as the conceptual framework for this study. Purposive and snowball sampling methods led to the participation of 6 licensed bilingual clinical social workers who met the criterion of experience in the provision of services to people with LEP in forensic settings, either in Spanish or American Sign Language (ASL). Data were collected using semistructured interviews through phone calls and videoconferencing platforms. Interviews were transcribed and reviewed by participants to ensure accuracy. Collected data were organized, processed, and analyzed through thematic analysis to identify emerging themes. Key themes included: financial constraints; low-€priority for LEP clients; lack of community support; issues with service access; cross-€agency collaborations; and laws, policies, and initiatives. The findings of this study may lead to positive social change by substantiating the importance of additional support for bilingual social workers in the form of education, supervision, and continued training. With support and collaboration, bilingual social workers may be able to enact social change to overcome challenges in the provision of services for LEP individuals.

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