The Moreno family

The Moreno family was a court mandated referred to the Family and Children’s Counseling Agency as a result of their daughter Janice’s involvement with the juvenile court system. Janice had been adjudicated on two occasions on two counts of criminal activity including assault and possession of marijuana. All members of the Moreno family, including Manny, Janice’s stepfather, age 46; her mother, Helen, age 40; Janice, age 16, and Derek, Janice’s 19 year old brother, were present at the initial interview in which the social worker met with them for 90 minutes.

Mr. and Mrs. Moreno have been married for 10 years and were married when Janice was six years old. Mrs. Moreno reports that Janice has had minimal contact with her biological father, Tom McClane, and that Manny is the only father Janice has really ever known. Mr. McClane has not contributed to the financial support of Janice. Their last visit together was when Janice was age 9. The relationship between Helen and Manny has been strained for years. They have had financial problems and Manny has had a drinking problem off and on, often during times of unemployment. During times of financial stress, Manny drinks heavily and he has been known to become physically violent with Helen and the children when drunk. He has been sober for the past year and a half, but there are rumors that the construction company he is now working for will be laying off workers during the next six months.

The Moreno’s also disagree over “parenting issues”. Helen states that Mannie has always been hard on the children, especially Janice. Manny claims that Helen frequently justifies Janice’s behavior and places the responsibility on him for the confrontations. Especially recently, Manny and Helen have little time together and when they are together it is usually consumed with conflict and arguments over Janice.

Manny and Helen also disagree over Derek continuing to live at home while he works part time. While Helen feels sympathetic that Derek needs time to adjust to adult life, the financial strain of having an extra person in the house has continued to cause conflict. Manny feels that Derek needs to “step up” and contribute to paying the bills. Derek insists that he is focused on saving money to move in with his girlfriend and that his money should go toward moving out. Recently his girlfriend had a fight with her mom and Derek insisted that she be able to move in to the house. This was a major source of conflict in the family. Ultimately, Derek’s girlfriend remained living at her mother’s house but Derek continues to introduce the subject of his girlfriend moving in while he saves to “get on their feet.”

Both Mr. and Mrs. Moreno report that there is growing conflict in their relationship with Janice. They say she has become isolated from the family. Most of the time she is out with friends, and they don’t know where she is or what she is doing. They report that Janice’s grades are very poor, and she is in danger of failing all of her classes. Janice has never excelled in school, but has managed to get by. Mrs. Moreno states that Janice often refuses to get out of bed and go to school.

Manny reports that he doesn’t know what to do with Janice. Whenever he tries to speak with her, they always end up in arguments that are growing in intensity. Manny states that Janice’s recent involvement with the police led to an argument that became “somewhat physical”, with both Mr. Moreno and Janice pushing and punching each other culminating with Janice storming out of the house. The relationship between Helen and Janice has deteriorated to the point they avoid being in the room together.


Janice offered little information during the initial interview. She stated that she really didn’t care what happened to her or what the judge did and that her plan was to quit school and get a job so that she could get out from under her parent’s control. Mrs. Moreno described a “testy” relationship with some of Janice’s teachers at school and the Assistant Principal with whom she has had several run ins. She believes the school is conspiring to expel her daughter and is just waiting for the “right opportunity”. This is the third school that Janice has attended in the past two years. The family moved once during that time to get her “in district” to go to one of the schools. Manny reported that the same thing at each school that Janice attended. Manny stated that they might be moving again soon if Janice gets expelled, although they are getting tired of moving.

Helen is currently unemployed and acts as a full time caregiver for her terminally ill mother. Her mother’s health has been steadily declining in the past year. It has been increasingly difficult for Helen to leave the house and for the past two months, Helen has been unable to leave unless she has a caretaker at home for her mother. The family’s recent moves have made it difficult for Helen to rely on neighbors or friends for caretaking help and Helen states that she has been feeling increasingly isolated from friends and support. While the family has considered home health care support they do not feel they can afford it.

Part I: Provide an assessment of the Moreno family and their presenting problem(s). Select an appropriate therapeutic strategy to address an identified problem(s). Discuss the theoretical underpinnings of your selected strategy, the major defining components of the strategy, and provide a rationale/ justification for why you chose this technique.

Part II: Choose a local, state, or federal policy and discuss its impact on the family functioning. What are the main tenets of the policy? How is the policy helping or hindering the family? What policy recommendations would you consider that might positively impact the Moreno family or the community in which they live?

Part III: Define the community context in which the Moreno family is operating. What community assets are currently lacking for the Moreno family? How does this impact their functioning? Which community system do you think is most essential to engage to work toward solving their primary presenting problem(s)? Define and discuss one macro level change that you might work toward that would work to alleviate the problem(s) the Moreno family is facing.

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