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Article

A hallmark of the social work profession is the emphasis on social justice for all. A call to action for social workers is to understand the needs of racial and ethnic groups in order to provide effective interventions. Latina/os are a heterogeneous and highly complex population that presents the social work profession with challenges in understanding diversity and what constitutes culturally and linguistically competent social work interventions. Latina/os are the second-fastest-growing racial and ethnic group in the United States. Latina/o groups must contend with strong anti-immigrant sentiment, English-only legislation, and increased discrimination and racism in the United States. Social workers need to work to reduce both external and internal institutional barriers to service delivery for Latina/os while responding effectively to their interpersonal and familial needs.

Article

This entry will provide an overview of psychosocial issues and social work intervention relevant to working with lesbians. Practice issues related to the impact of heterosexism, coming out, lesbian identity development, and lesbian couple and family formation will be discussed. Assessment and intervention methods appropriate for social work practice with lesbians will be addressed.

Article

As a result of rising life expectancies, America’s older population is itself aging. The U.S. Census Bureau projections suggest that, by the middle of the 21st century, more than 40% of Americans aged 65 and older can expect to live to at least the age of 90. Although the oldest-old (often defined as persons ages 80 and older or those ages 85-plus) is a diverse population, advanced old age is associated with a greater risk of experiencing economic hardship, disabling illnesses or health conditions, and social isolation. A growing public policy challenge will be ensuring the economic well-being, the health, and the dignity of society’s very oldest citizens.

Article

Although the terms older adult and senior citizen are commonly defined as individuals 60 years and above, later adulthood contains various life-course phases and developmental periods. The young-old, defined as individuals in the age range of 60–75 years, often experience various health, social, and economic transitions. Both the individual and family systems must negotiate some of the changes that accompany the journey into later life. Therefore, this first decade of older adulthood is one that can simultaneously be enjoyable, exciting, demanding, and stressful for aging persons and their families.

Article

Valire Carr Copeland and Daniel Hyung Jik Lee

Social reform efforts of the settlement-house movement have provided, in part, the foundation for today’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau’s policies, programs, and services. Planning, implementing, and evaluating policies and programs that affect the health and well-being of mothers and children require a multidisciplinary approach. Social workers, whose skills encompass direct services, advocacy, planning and research, community development, and administration, have a critical role to play in improving the health outcomes of maternal and child populations.

Article

Richard Wolff and Karen Dodge

This entry discusses migrant workers in the United States and the unique circumstances and conditions they face. Included in the discussion are social problems faced by migrants with respect to health, housing, working conditions, child labor, and education. Policy issues are addressed, including relevant national, international, and corporate laws. Migrant patterns, demographics, and definitions are presented. Finally, social work programs, responses, and interventions are identified.

Article

Othelia Eun-Kyoung Lee and Ruth G. McRoy

We define the concept of multiculturalism and explains, from a historical and contemporary perspective, its evolution and significance in social work. The relationship between multiculturalism and socioeconomic justice, oppression, populations at risk, health disparities, and discrimination is explained. The importance of preparatory training for social workers to gain more knowledge about multicultural communities is highlighted and examples are provided of specific cross-cultural training models. Implications of multiculturalism for clinical practice and policy development are discussed.

Article

Gina Miranda Samuels

Although the year 2000 marked the first time U.S. citizens were allowed to report more than one race in the Census, multiraciality and multiethnicity are certainly not new in the United States or globally. The history of multiracial America is inextricably linked to its history of immigration, slavery, racism, and the very construction of single-race identities as master statuses during colonialism. Who is multiracial, as well as the idea that such an identity or population can or should exist, is highly complex and has shifted along with societal attitudes and laws governing race identity options and the sanctioning of multiracial families through marriage and adoption. The understanding in the early 21st century of this growing multiracial population is mired in this history, but also idealized as proof of a new and possibly “postrace” America. To examine multiraciality, this entry begins by defining root concepts including race, ethnicity, nationality, and culture to then examine and define multiraciality. This entry will include a brief historical discussion of multiraciality in the United States and will also explore demographic and health trends using such statistics as are available and examine identified risks, disparities, strengths, and resiliencies among this diverse population. Effective and ethical social-work practices with multiracial persons require expansion beyond the black–white dichotomy and monocentric paradigm of race to consider both strengths and vulnerabilities navigated by the increasing number of persons and families who identify as multiracial and multiethnic. Approaches to social work that promote multiracially attuned practices and engagement of the diverse resources for various communities of multiracial persons and families conclude this entry.

Article

Susheelabai R. Srinivasa, Sudershan Pasupuleti, and Ram Shepherd Bheenaveni

Mutual aid societies, associations, and groups (MASAGs) are typical representations of the human spirit of cooperation and mutual help that characterized the evolution of human societies across civilizations and nations. These social entities are instrumental in bringing people together with common interests and needs to engage in mutually beneficial pursuits, relationships, and exchanges resulting in enduring benefits to the members and larger society. Mutual aid societies are member-led, member-organized, nonsectarian, and nonhierarchical voluntary social entities for mutual interests, mutual help, and empowerment. MASAGs are social inventions that have transformed and empowered members individually and collectively, with far-reaching spiraling effects on their families, social networks, communities, and societies throughout the world.

Article

Private money clubs or mutual financial aid and saving associations (MFASAs) are commonly identified as one of the contributing factors to high small business ownership rates among Chinese, Japanese, and Korean immigrants in the United States. This article discusses MFASAs among the immigrant groups in the United States. Included are MFASAs’ historical roots, trends, operational procedures, and their role in building financial assets among these groups. As MFASAs have roles other than that of being private financial vehicles for immigrants, other functions are also discussed. The potential for MFASAs to be considered a development model beyond the Asian American community is presented.

Article

Hilary N. Weaver

First Nations Peoples, the original inhabitants of what is now the United States, are a diverse and growing population. There are approximately 5.2 million First Nations Peoples within the boundaries of the United States. First Nations Peoples tend to be younger, poorer, and less educated than others in the United States. The contemporary issues faced by these Peoples are intimately intertwined with the history of colonization and federal policies that perpetuate dependency and undermine self-determination. Social workers must overcome the negative history of their profession with First Nations Peoples, in particular social work involvement in extensive child removals and coercive sterilization of Indigenous women. Social workers have the power and ability to make important differences in enhancing the social, economic, and health status of First Nations Peoples, but this must begin with an awareness of their own attitudes and beliefs, as well as an awareness of how social workers have contributed to, rather than worked to alleviate, the problems of First Nations Peoples.

Article

Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders (NHOPI) comprise 0.3% of the total U.S. population, with the largest groups being Native Hawaiians (401,000), Samoans (133,000), and Chamorros or Guamanians (93,000). Core cultural values and traditions have sustained NHOPI as they confront cultural changes and challenges to their health and well-being. Directions for social work require accurate assessments of the problems challenging NHOPI based on information that both disaggregates NHOPI from other populations, and includes NHOPI in the design and delivery of culturally based solutions to resolve problems.

Article

Julianne S. Oktay and Bradley Zebrack

Oncology social work researchers have made (and continue to make) important contributions to the knowledge base that supports the profession. This article discusses the profession of oncology social work, its roots in medical social work in the United States, the development of cancer treatment, and the body of research that informs its art and practice. Oncology social work research is placed in the broader contexts of the social work profession, the field of oncology, and the specific field of oncology social work. Through the decades, the profession of oncology social work has grown, gained stability and legitimacy. Oncology social work itself, along with oncology social work research, have made rapid strides in the 21st century and accelerating in impact and relevance. Oncology social work research is stronger now than ever. Recent developments, such as the addition of a research institute at the annual AOSW conference and initiatives to establish a “practice-based research network” are expanding capacity in the field. Oncology social work researchers bring a unique perspective to their research. Social work’s patient-centered perspective is reflected in research that explores the cancer experience of patients and family members and leads to new interventions based on that experience. Social work’s focus on human development over the life course results in research that reflects a developmental framework or focuses on specific age groups, such as children, adolescents, young adults, or the elderly. Social work’s conceptual model of “Person-in-Environment” is reflected in research on cancer patients in the context of their interpersonal relationships. The values of social justice and cultural competence are reflected in research on health disparities, minority populations, and multicultural perspectives. Finally, the field of oncology social work itself has been the focus of recent research on distress screening and its implementation. In the 21st century, oncology social work research stands in a pivotal position. Although this type of research is now widely recognized as important, it is still a challenge to access the level of support from major funders of cancer research required to establish and reinforce a strong and vibrant knowledge base for the profession.

Article

Racial disproportionality in out-of-school suspensions (suspensions) is a persistent, multi-level social justice and child well-being issue affecting not only youth, families, and schools but society as a whole. It is a complex, multiple-level social problem that will require an equally complex response. The design of effective remedies will require adequate understanding of the problem as well as the historical and sociocultural contexts in which it emerged and is perpetuated. Progressive educators have offered a number of alternatives to harsh and exclusionary discipline, but research is needed to examine their effectiveness, especially in reducing racial disproportionalities.

Article

Larry W. Bennett and Oliver J. Williams

Perpetrators of intimate partner violence (IPV) use coercive actions toward intimate or formerly intimate partners, including emotional abuse, stalking, threats, physical violence, or rape. The lifetime prevalence of IPV is 35% for women and 28% for men, with at an estimated economic cost of over ten billion dollars. IPV occurs in all demographic sectors of society, but higher frequencies of IPV perpetration are found among people who are younger and who have lower income and less education. Similar proportions of men and women use IPV, but when the effects of partner abuse are considered, women bear the greatest physical and behavioral health burden. Single-explanation causes for IPV such as substance abuse, patriarchy, and personality disorders are sometimes preferred by practitioners, advocates, and policymakers, but an understanding of IPV perpetration is enhanced when we look through the multiple lenses of culture and society, relationship, and psychological characteristics of the perpetrators.

Article

Suzanne Pritzker and Shannon R. Lane

Political social work navigates power in policymaking and politics to elicit social change. It is grounded in core social work values and ethics, including the professional responsibility to challenge systemic discrimination and institutional inequalities through political action. Political social workers address systemic barriers to social, political, economic, and racial justice, and engage in political action to promote individual and communal well-being through policy processes and outcomes. This article discusses the five domains of political social work: engaging individuals and communities in political processes; influencing policy agendas and decision-making; holding professional and political staff positions; engaging with electoral campaigns; and seeking and holding elected office. It also examines social workers’ political activity in the United States and globally, the role of social work education, and challenges for political social work, including the profession’s legacy of supporting injustices and tensions around the role of political social work, and identifies opportunities to address these barriers.

Article

Jason Matejkowski, Toni Johnson, and Margaret E. Severson

This entry provides a description of prison social work and the array of responsibilities that social workers in prison settings have, including intake screening and assessment, supervision, crisis intervention, ongoing treatment, case management, and parole and release planning. The authors provide the legal context for providing social-work services to prisoners and delve into issues involving three specific populations of growing concern to corrections officials and to prison social work: women inmates, inmates who are parents, and inmates with mental illness. The tension between the goals of social work and corrections is explored and opportunities for social workers to apply their professional values within the prison setting are highlighted.

Article

There is a critical and ongoing need for the expansion of competency among social workers related to understanding queer identities and issues related to positionality within queer communities. It is also important to continually examine the evolving terminology and context through which the term queer has been defined over the years and relevant challenges with connectedness to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Age cohort associations and the role of intersectionality also have relevance and underscore the multidimensional discourse necessary to develop effective competency, and engage in affirming practice with queer communities. Social worker practitioners must understand the implications for best practices associated with establishing and maintaining an affirming therapeutic alliance with queer clients, as well as the continued need for research related to understanding the unique needs of queer identities and the queer community at-large.

Article

Related to understanding queer identities, an ongoing need exists for the expansion of competency among social workers across micro and macro practice frameworks. Practitioners must be aware of their own positionality and use of cultural humility associated with practice and advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, and two-spirit+ (LGBTQIA2S+) communities, which include those identifying as demisexual, omnisexual, and pansexual, among others. Relatedly, social workers must be attentive to evolving terminology and contexts through which the term queer has been defined over the years, as well as relevant challenges with connectedness to (or separation from) the larger LGBTQIA2S+ community. Age cohort associations and the role of intersectionality also have relevance and underscore the multidimensional discourse necessary to develop effective competency and the ability to engage in affirming macro practice with queer communities. Social work practitioners must understand the implications for best practices associated with establishing and maintaining an affirming alliance with queer clients via policy practice efforts, advocacy efforts, community organizing, service provision, or therapeutic context. In addition, there remains a continued need for ongoing research associated with understanding the unique needs of queer identities and the queer community at large.

Article

Odessa Gonzalez Benson, Karin Wachter, and Cherra Mathis

Resettlement-related macro practice reflects a complicated history of immigration and refugee resettlement in the United States, as well as international and domestic policies that shape opportunities and services available to refugees who resettle through these mechanisms. Four intersecting domains of resettlement macro practice are (a) community organizing and community development, (b) advocacy, (c) policy analysis and development, and (d) community-centered management and program planning. To engage meaningfully in macro social work requires a grasp of the history and policies that drive decision-making of individual practitioners and shape the experiences of people resettling to the United States in search of safety and new beginnings. Research and participatory approaches are integral to resettlement macro practice to ensure refugee communities are at the center of all efforts to inform structural and systemic change.