Professional and Ethical Issues in Home Visiting

Because home visitors provide human services, the work must be governed by strong professional and ethical issues. As of this time, no guidelines exist that have been developed specifically for home visitors, but professional and ethical standards for other professions relevant to the services of home visitors have been developed and endorsed by several professional organizations. Five such organizations and their ethical codes are listed below. These include

  1. Social Workers (National Association of Social Workers)
    http://www.naswdc.org/pubs/code/code.asp]
  2. Educators working with young children (National Association for the Education of Young Children)
    http://www.naeyc.org/files/naeyc/file/positions/PSETH05.pdf
  3. Nurses (American Nurses Association)
    http://www.nursingworld.org/codeofethics
  4. Counselors (American Counseling Association)
    http://www.counseling.org/resources/codeofethics/TP/home/ct2.aspx
  5. Psychologists (American Psychological Association)
    http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/index.aspx

From a review of the work of other professionals, three components for ethical training are recommended. First is knowledge about overarching principles, such as integrity and benevolence. Second is mastery of a decision making model related to ethical issues. Third is knowledge of standards and guidelines from pertinent organizations on relevant ethical issues, including, but not limited to, confidentiality, boundaries, and informed consent. Fourth is knowledge of the reporting regulations in one’s state for child abuse and neglect, spouse abuse, and elder abuse. These four areas should all be part of the professional training of directors, supervisors, and home visitors.

For additional information on models for professional decision making to address ethical and professional issues see Knauss, 1997. For a discussion of ethical and professional issues faced by home visitors, see Wasik & Bryant, 2001.

Knauss, L. K. (1997). Professional training in ethics. In D. T. Marsh & R. D. Magee (Eds.), Ethical and legal issues in professional practice with families (pp. 289-311). New York: John Wiley.

Wasik, B. H., & Bryant, D. M. (2001). Home visiting: Procedures for helping families. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.