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Article

Wilma Peebles-Wilkins

Janie Porter Barrett (1865–1948) was a noted African American child welfare reformer. In 1890, she founded the Locust Street Social Settlement, one of the first settlements for black people in the United States. She later established and became superintendent of Virginia Industrial School for Colored Girls in 1915.

Article

Nancy Boyd Webb

James R. Dumpson (1909–2012) was the first African American dean of a non-black school of social work following a career in public service in New York where he worked tirelessly to promote social change and implement social justice.

Article

With the election of President Ronald Reagan in 1980 the United States entered an era of social policy development shaped in large measure by themes associated with political conservatism: privatization, federalism, work-linked benefits, personal responsibility, and “family values.” These themes have resulted in changes to the basic structure of American social welfare that will persist into the 21st century.

Article

Micheal L. Shier and John R. Graham

The focus and aim of social policy in Canada have in part been determined by the unique sociohistorical and cultural context of the country. This entry provides a brief overview of the leading factors that have contributed to the development of social policy in Canada. Emphasis is placed on the economic, social, and cultural context of the development of the country, along with the system of governance and the ideological framework among the general populace. Following this contextualization, four dominant periods of social policy are described. These include the residual period, the emerging institutional period, the institutional period, and the postinstitutional period. In each era the forces leading to specific social policy outcomes are described. These include aspects of the changing economic system and emerging cultural and social needs among the population. Key social policies in each era are introduced and described. Fundamental to each period of social policy development are the efforts of the voluntary sector. In conclusion, future trends in social policy and social welfare in Canada are discussed.

Article

Larraine M. Edwards

Isaac Max Rubinow (1875–1936) was a consultant to the President's Committee on Economic Security and director of the Jewish Welfare Society of Philadelphia. He led the American social insurance movement and contributed to Jewish American welfare programs.

Article

Ludwig L. Geismar

Wayne Vasey (1910–1992) was a social work educator who contributed to the fields of social policy, social welfare, and gerontology. He was founding executive of the social work schools at the University of Iowa and Rutgers University.

Article

Richard Hoefer

Understanding both public and private welfare expenditures is necessary to appreciate the full scope of a social welfare system. This entry examines spending in four major areas of social welfare policy (health, medical, and nutrition; retirement and disability insurance; income maintenance and welfare; and education), comparing the public and private sectors. While expenditures for both sectors are increasing, private expenditures are not increasing as a percentage of total costs, despite efforts to privatize social welfare. This may change in the future if military costs continue to siphon governmental costs away from social welfare expenditures.

Article

Jean K. Quam

Edith Abbott (1876–1957) was a social worker and educator. She was Dean of the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago from 1924 to 1942 and she helped in drafting the Social Security Act of 1935.

Article

One of the most significant structural transformations in postwar capitalist democracies has been the rise of the welfare state. The theoretical intent of the traditional sociological and economic inquiry into the welfare state has focused less on trying to understand the welfare state itself and more on to what extent and under what conditions welfare provisions influence social and economic outcomes such as equality, employment, and labor market behavior. Over time, however, scholars have turned toward historical and political factors. G. Esping-Andersen identified three types of welfare state that seem incongruent with the real worlds of welfare capitalism: the “liberal,” “conservative/corporatist,” and “social democratic.” In contrast to the period until the mid-1980s that focused on welfare state expansion, the late 1980s saw the emergence of new streams of literature whose emphasis was on welfare state retrenchment. More recently, scholars have advanced the argument that the globalization of capital markets has effectively increased the power of capital over governments that seek to expand or maintain relatively high levels of social protection and taxation. Another notable trend is the increased intellectual interest in the relation between development and social policy and the growing interface between social policy and economic policy. A question that arises is whether distinctive welfare regimes have the ability to survive, particularly if their norms clash with those of the competition, or Schumpeterian workfare state.

Article

Diana M. DiNitto and David H. Johnson

Social welfare policy may be defined as government’s response to human needs such as food, housing, healthcare, employment, and other necessities. Many contemporary U.S. social welfare policies have roots in the New Deal programs of the 1930s, which were responses to the Great Depression. The civil unrest of the 1960s, the “Great Recession” of 2008, and the COVID-19 pandemic also brought about major policy responses. There are basic philosophical differences in approaches that Americans believe the United States should take to meeting human needs, often described in liberal and conservative perspectives. Social insurance and public assistance programs are major responses to poverty and other needs. Disparities based on race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and other factors may also be addressed through social welfare policies, sometimes in the form of civil rights legislation. Racism and other forms of systemic discrimination, however, continue to prevent many Americans from reaping the benefits that others enjoy. The National Association of Social Workers’ code of ethics calls for social workers’ political involvement. Social workers participate in all aspects of policy processes to improve the biopsychosocial well-being of Americans and people across the globe.

Article

Rosalie Blair

Harry Morris Cassidy (1900–1951) was a Canadian academic, social reformer, civil servant, and, briefly, a politician. A pioneer in the field of social work, he was also the founding dean of the School of Social Welfare at the University of California, Berkeley, in the early 1940s. He then worked for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. He subsequently became dean of the School of Social Work at the University of Toronto.

Article

Edmund Sherman and William J. Reid

Ann Wentworth Shyne (1914–1995) was a founding member of the influential Social Work Research Group, which promoted research on social work practice. Her work had a considerable impact on family and child welfare services and on social work research.

Article

Francisco H. G. Ferreira, Emanuela Galasso, and Mario Negre

“Shared prosperity” is a common phrase in current development policy discourse. Its most widely used operational definition—the growth rate in the average income of the poorest 40% of a country’s population—is a truncated measure of change in social welfare. A related concept, the shared prosperity premium—the difference between the growth rate of the mean for the bottom 40% and the growth rate in the overall mean—is similarly analogous to a measure of change in inequality. This article reviews the relationship between these concepts and the more established ideas of social welfare, poverty, inequality, and mobility. Household survey data can be used to shed light on recent progress in terms of this indicator globally. During 2008–2013, mean incomes for the poorest 40% rose in 60 of the 83 countries for which we have data. In 49 of them, accounting for 65% of the sampled population, it rose faster than overall average incomes, thus narrowing the income gap. In the policy space, there are examples both of “pre-distribution” policies (which promote human capital investment among the poor) and “re-distribution” policies (such as targeted safety nets), which when well-designed have a sound empirical track record of both raising productivity and improving well-being among the poor.

Article

North America is one of the world's richest regions, and both the United States and Canada are ranked in the top 10 of the United Nations Human Development Index. However, poverty and inequality, and in particular, child poverty continues to be a significant problem. Social workers in both countries provide a wide array of human services to a range of populations. Social work has developed into a mature profession but is currently struggling to meet the increasing demand for its services.

Article

Iris Carlton-LaNey

This entry traces American social welfare development from the 1890s to 1950. It also includes social work's participation and response to need during two critical times in American history: the Progressive Era and the New Deal. Social reformers were instrumental in the development of social legislation, including the establishment of the Children's Bureau as well as the development of a public welfare system at the state level. America's response to human suffering left many groups, such American Indians, African Americans, and Asians, marginalized. In response, African Americans established a parallel system of private relief through organizations such as the National Urban League, unlike the other racial groups.

Article

Andrew Dobelstein

Privatizing social services has taken a new turn as America enters the 21st century. Although it was once possible to separate private and public social services, the growing trend toward public–private partnerships has made such earlier distinctions meaningless since more and more private social services are supported with public money. There are advantages and disadvantages inherent in the mixing of public and private social services, but perhaps the greatest problem may be the support of a growing trend for all levels of government to dissociate themselves from their longstanding public social service responsibilities.

Article

Robert Perlman

Charles Irwin Schottland (1906–1994) was a leader in social welfare policy making and founder of an innovative school of advanced studies in social welfare at Brandeis University. As Commissioner of Social Security he initiated significant changes in social security law.

Article

Allan Moscovitch

George Davidson’s (1909–1995) working life included four careers over a period of over 45 years. In his first two careers he was director of welfare in the government of British Columbia, executive director of the Canadian Welfare Council, and then the government of Canada’s first deputy minister of welfare. In his later careers he was president of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and undersecretary general of the United Nations.

Article

David Stoesz and Catherine Born

American social and economic justice advocates, social workers included, have struggled to establish a national mindset that welfare is a right, a duty owed to the people by government, not a privilege that can be revoked at will. Industrialized nations with a universalistic, rights-based philosophy have strived to provide citizens with some measure of a basic, minimum income; the United States has not, yet. The United States has been hobbled by ideology; a two-tier system consisting of assistance and insurance; and cultural misgivings about direct, ongoing public payments (welfare) to the poor. Revitalization of a national welfare rights movement, early signals from the Biden administration, and awareness that major social policy changes most often happen at times of crisis offer reasons for a degree of optimism. The COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath are a moment in time—an inflection point—when social workers, because of their training, ethical codes, skill sets, and appreciation of the lessons of social welfare history, could play a key role in charting a new course of action suited to 21st-century needs and realities.

Article

Alex Gitterman

Richard Cloward (1926–2005) was an internationally renowned scholar, social activist, and educator at Columbia University. His scholarship on contemporary issues in the US was informed by his social activism on the frontlines, organizing for welfare rights and voter registration.