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Article

Kathleen A. Rounds and Traci L. Wike

Although rates of adolescent pregnancy have exhibited a downward trend since 1991, the United States continues to have a significantly higher rate than other industrialized nations. Adolescent pregnancy, especially in early and middle adolescence, has long-term developmental and economic impact on the teen and her child, in addition to high social costs. This entry describes the current trends in adolescent pregnancy in the United States, and examines factors reported in the research literature as associated with adolescent pregnancy, discusses federal policy directed toward adolescent pregnancy prevention, and identifies various intervention programs.

Article

Karen Smith Rotabi

The practice of intercountry adoption is first considered from a historical framework, beginning with World War II, to other conflicts throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. In this historical overview, factors that contributed to the rise of the global circulation of children for adoption in the 20th century are discussed, as well as efforts for reform in the 21st century in response to problems of abuse, fraud, and exploitation and the development of policies to regulate intercountry adoption and ultimately protect children. Specifically, The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption is presented from a social justice perspective, using Guatemala as a case example, as well as relevant U.S. policies regulating intercountry adoption practices. Finally, direct practice considerations for social workers are discussed. These include pre- and post-adoption issues to support families and children through the intercountry adoption process and across the child’s lifespan with considerations for trans-racial adoptions and the unique child-family support issues. In conclusion, the significant decline in the practice is reflected upon pragmatically; the need for true reform in the practice is necessary to preserve intercountry adoption for orphaned and vulnerable children.

Article

Abbie E. Goldberg and April Moyer

Adoption by lesbian and gay parents is becomingly increasingly common. This entry presents an overview of the limited research that has focused on lesbian and gay adoptive parents. Specifically, this entry addresses the experience of adoptive parenthood for lesbian and gay parents, with emphasis on the decision-making process (that is, choosing adoption, choosing an agency, choosing an adoption type, and specifying child characteristics), the transition to adoptive parenthood, the psychological adjustment of the adoptive parents and their children, and the adoptive parent–child relationship. We end with recommendations for future research and implications for practitioners and policymakers.

Article

African Americans number about 35 million or 12% of the U.S. population. Their life expectancy is lower than that of White Americans, and despite the educational gains made since mid-1980s, the unemployment gap between African Americans and Whites has increased. Similarly, although the number of African Americans working in white-collar occupations has increased, the disparity in wage earnings between African American and White workers continues. Regardless of social class African Americans are made to be cognizant of their race at all times. Today they are still at risk for social issues such as substance abuse, teen pregnancy, incarceration, poverty, high rates of female headed households, infant mortality that is twice as high as Whites, residential segregation, racism, and discrimination. As daunting as these problems are, the strengths of the African American community have allowed it to thrive even amid arduous circumstances.

Article

Susan J. Wells and Geoff Johnson

The true extent of child abuse and neglect is unknown but reports to state agencies indicate over 3 million reports concerning maltreatment of over 6 million children are made each year. Confirmed reports involved over 679,000 children in 2013. Yet, only 32% of the children known to be harmed by maltreatment in the community are investigated by child protective services. The perplexing dilemma in surveillance and service delivery is how to identify those who need help without spuriously including those who do not. This entry focuses on the definition of maltreatment and provides an overview of the history, etiology, and consequences of child abuse and neglect as well as the current trends and dilemmas in the field. To afford some perspective for the reader, some international data and information are provided.

Article

Laura Lein

Child care services, enabling parents to commit themselves to paid employment while providing a supervised environment for their children, have a long and complex history in the United States. Child care services can provide children with educational and other advantages, as well as custodial care. In fact, the United States has multiple kinds of services providing child care and early childhood education. Publicly funded services have concentrated on care for impoverished children and those facing other risks or disadvantages, but many of these children and their families remain unserved because of gaps in programs and lack of support for subsidies, while other families purchase the services they need.

Article

Delanie P. Pope and Joseph Kozakiewicz

Child support is the legal mechanism requiring parents to share in the economic support of their children. Under the law, parents are obligated to support their children regardless of whether they reside with them. Support calculations for noncustodial parents are based on many different factors, which vary from state to state. Enforcement is the single biggest challenge in the area of child support. The federal government continues to pass laws enhancing states' enforcement capabilities. Recipients of child support differ by race and ethnic group. Child support obligations are distinct from alimony and are usually independent of parenting time.

Article

Mo Yee Lee, Cathy Grover Ely, Ray Eads, and Xiafei Wang

Single-parent families have emerged as a common family structure, with one in four U.S. children living in single-parent households. Research on single parents has traditionally adopted a deficit-based perspective, and the challenges and barriers faced by single-parent families are well documented. In particular, students from single-parent families often struggle in school settings, with increased rates of behavior problems, lower academic achievement, and less parental engagement in the child’s education. Despite these challenges, an emerging body of literature supports focusing on resilience and strengths, rather than deficits and problems, when working with children and families. Adopting a strengths-based perspective also facilitates collaborative alliances among single parents and various service systems and helping professionals, including social workers and school personnel. This article provides an overview of single-parent families, outlines strengths-based and collaborative interventions for working with children and families, and then presents pragmatic guidelines and a case illustration to demonstrate the practical application of such interventions.

Article

Divorce  

Karen Kayser and Jessica K. M. Johnson

This entry presents the demographic trends of divorce and the social changes that have impacted the divorce rate. A cultural perspective of divorce is provided by analyzing divorce in the context of race and gender and across nations. Current explanatory theories of divorce are described. Research on the consequences of divorce on adults and children is presented followed by the practice implications for social workers. Future directions for policy and research are discussed.

Article

Melissa Lim Brodowski, Jacqueline Counts, and Aislinn Conrad-Hiebner

This chapter provides an overview of early-childhood home-visiting programs and offers a brief summary of the research, policy, and practice issues. The first section defines home visiting and the funding available to support it. The next section summarizes common characteristics of home-visiting programs and describes the features of several evidence-based home-visiting programs. The outcomes from home visiting for parents and children, including relevant cost-benefit studies, are briefly reviewed. The chapter concludes with implementation issues and future directions for home visiting.

Article

Sadye L. M. Logan

Families in almost all societies are viewed as the basic unit for coordinating personal reproduction and the redistribution of goals within the larger societal context of production and exchange. They are vulnerable to the rapidly changing economics of the environments in which they live. Universals regarding families worldwide include a delay in marriage, an increase in divorce rates, a decrease in household size and fertility rates, and nontraditional living arrangements. The most studied aspect of families continues to be family diversity, with greater emphasis on an interdisciplinary framework. There is also a movement toward more effective ways of treating families. Placing families in an historical context, this entry discusses evidence-based family interventions, the latest research on families, family diversity, and implications for social work practice and education.

Article

Kylie Agllias

Family estrangement—a concept similar to emotional cutoff in Bowen family systems theory—is the unsatisfactory physical or emotional distancing between at least two family members. It is attributed to a number of biological, psychological, social, and structural factors affecting the family, including attachment disorders, incompatible values and beliefs, unfulfilled expectations, critical life events and transitions, parental alienation, and ineffective communication patterns. Family estrangement is often experienced as a considerable loss; its ambiguous nature and social disenfranchisement can contribute to significant grief responses, perceived stigma, and social isolation in some cases. The social-work profession has a role to play in raising social and political awareness of the prevalence of, contributors to, and effects of estrangement on the intergenerational family, with clinicians working to assess and address the impact of estrangement on individuals and the family system.

Article

Cynthia Franklin and Laura M. Hopson

Family intervention has become an important tool for social work practitioners. This entry provides a brief history of family intervention and important influences as well as a synopsis of current research. Although these interventions require more research to better understand the populations for whom they are most effective, the evidence supports their usefulness in addressing such issues as aggression, substance use, and depression, among others.

Article

Rita Chou

With the rapid rise of the aging population, how to provide support and care for older adults has become an increasingly important issue across the world. One way of such provision in many societies has been through adult children. An important concept, attitude, and practice in this regard is filial responsibility. This article first looks into the definition of filial responsibility and its ethical foundation or theoretical underpinning as manifested in various theories. Next, the article examines changes and continuity in filial responsibility in the face of modernization and other social and cultural changes. To better understand the many faces of filial responsibility, the article discusses parental expectations of filial responsibility and the attitudes and practices of adult children. The extent of offspring’s filial responsibility attitude as a predictor of actual support and care to parents is discussed. In addition, to comprehend the effects of filial responsibility on individual well-being, this article examines not only the effects of parental expectations of filial responsibility on their well-being but also the consequences of fulfilling filial responsibility on offspring’s well-being. Finally, the article examines the relationship between filial responsibility and policy and the implications of filial responsibility for the helping professions, including social work.

Article

Joyce E. Everett

Social work has long been involved in child foster care. Though its initial involvement de-emphasized the importance of infant–caregiver attachment, Bowlby’s theory of attachment is particularly relevant for child-welfare practice. This entry chronicles the history of child foster care and describes the evolution of legislation most pertinent for the provision of foster care. The characteristics of children in foster care since 2000 and the dynamic flow of children entering and exiting care are described. A brief account of foster care services and future trends in the field are highlighted.

Article

Priscilla Gibson and Valandra

Little attention has been paid to the role of grandparents, yet this intergenerational family role has shifted both inside and outside of the family. Social policies have pushed it into public debate on the rights of grandparents. Although traditional characteristics remain, new contemporary aspects of the role have emerged. This entry provides content on the significant factors that prompted the diversity in grandparenting and its social construction by adult children, grandchildren, and society.

Article

Ruth Paris and Ellen R. DeVoe

In this entry we address the primary purpose of family in supporting the growth and development of individual members throughout the life course. Life cycle and attachment theories inform our understanding of how families function. Changing family patterns are addressed in terms of the variety of family forms, the multiplicity of needs as economies shift and life expectancy lengthens, family coping and adaptation to normative transitions and unexpected crises, and the influence of cultural and racial diversity. We conclude with brief comments on the issues for contemporary families and needs for the social work profession.

Article

Laina Y. Bay-Cheng

This entry defines sexuality and identifies dominant explanatory models. In doing so, the entry outlines the central debate regarding the relative contributions of biology and social context. In addition, it highlights current key issues in the field of sexuality: the connection between sexuality and social inequality, the growing emphasis on the promotion of sexual health and well-being rather than just the prevention of sexual risk, the salience of sexuality across the life course, and the debate regarding sexuality education policy. Finally, it identifies parallels between these trends and social work, including the relation of sexuality to social work roles and practice.

Article

Every year thousands of children are removed from their families and are placed into out-of-home care. While these children are placed in care settings with a hope of a better future, they are often faced with many challenges that impact their short and long terms growth. As of 2017, 442,995 children have been removed from their families and placed in the U.S. foster care system for an average of 20.1 months. Placement occurs for several reasons, such as neglect, parent incarceration, drug abuse, and caretakers’ inability to cope. Twenty-seven percent (117,110) have been in care over two years, and all of these children face many obstacles in life that can impact their short- and long-term well-being. One of the most significant challenges they face is access to a stable educational environment that supports positive mental, emotional, behavioral, physical, and social growth. Frequent moves, lack of coordination between schools, and underdeveloped infrastructure to support unique needs are some of the significant predictors of disproportionately poor education outcomes for children in foster care and other residential settings. The lack of stable educational environment leads to a number of challenges related to enrollment, stability, access to special services, peer relations, grade retention, and caregiver and teacher familiarity with academic strengths and weaknesses of the child. To improve their educational outcomes, there is a need for advocacy and significant changes at the at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels. Consistent efforts need to be made by stakeholders, such as state and federal government, schools, child welfare systems, and community partners to address systemic inequities, improve current policies and practices, increase accessibility to quality schools, provide mental health services, and, most importantly, establish a stable environment that will enable the youth to flourish and succeed.

Article

This section defines and discusses the jurisdictions of the juvenile and family courts as well as their influences on social work practice. The history of the court, several interpretations of it, as well as various reform efforts are reviewed. Opportunities for social workers to be employed by the numerous agencies affiliated with the court, as well as several nontraditional social work roles, are outlined in this section. The final two parts of the section discuss the major innovations and primary challenges faced by the contemporary court such as gender, class, and racial biases in the system, questions about the effectiveness of the court and associated programs. Finally, proposals to abolish or reinvent the juvenile court are presented.