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Article

Child Labor  

Usha Nayar, Priya Nayar, and Nidhi Mishra

The paper presents a global scenario of child labor by placing the issue in a historical context as well as comparing current work in the field. It specifically explains the psychosocial, political, and economic determinants of child labor and the prevalence of different forms as well as its magnitude in the different regions of the world. It features innovative programs and actions taken against child labor by local governments, civil societies, and United Nations bodies—mainly the International Labor Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund. The paper also highlights multilateral collaborations among the UN and other international agencies that stand against child labor in general and the employment of children in hazardous conditions. It illustrates the cooperation among local governments, civic organizations, and child-rights movements that have brought gradual changes over the decades toward ending child labor. Further, it suggests that social work, relevant professional schools, and associations working in various disciplines should be engaged in research-based advocacy and find innovative solutions to control child labor.

Article

Children’s Rights  

Anne Blumenthal and Karen M. Staller

Through policies at the international, national, and state levels, social workers are often directed to respect children’s rights while also ensuring their best interests. The concept of children’s rights is diffuse and can be difficult to operationalize in practice. Children’s rights can refer to moral rights—basic human rights regardless of age or station—and legal rights, those awarded based on chronological age or level of maturity. They are conceptualized in three categories: protection rights (the right to be free from harm and exploitation), provision rights (the right to have their basic needs met), and participation rights (the right to have a say). Children’s rights can conflict with family autonomy, and state intervention in the United States is based on the common law doctrine of parens patriae. The United Nations’ (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most comprehensive statement of children’s rights to date and provides the framework for child-related policies in UN member countries, except the United States. In many cases, social workers are the formal and informal implementation arm of children’s rights frameworks, ensuring that children are protected, provided for, and have participation.

Article

Child Welfare: History and Policy  

Christina Paddock, Debra Waters-Roman, and Jessica Borja

Child welfare services in the United States evolved from voluntary “child saving” efforts in the 19th century into a system of largely government-funded interventions aimed at identifying and protecting children from maltreatment, preserving the integrity of families that come to the attention of child welfare authorities, and finding permanent homes for children who cannot safely remain with their families. Since the 1970s, the federal government has played an increasing role in funding and creating the policy framework for child welfare practice. Today, communities of color receive a disproportionate amount of attention from child welfare services, yet often have access to fewer resources.

Article

Child Welfare: Overview  

John Paul Horn, Emily Bruce, and Toni Naccarato

In the United States, the child welfare system is composed of multiple services to keep children safe, either by strengthening family units, preventing maltreatment, or providing alternative care arrangements for children who are unable to safely remain at home. These services include child protection, family support and maintenance programs, reunification, and out-of-home care. Some children return safely to their families, but other children might never return home. Services for these youth might include adoption, guardianship, and/or transitional planning for youth exiting foster care to adulthood. Case-carrying social workers hold responsibility for assessing the case, making recommendations to the court, and preparing reports for parents, court officers, and sometimes for dependent children (based on their age). These individuals are professional social workers with graduate degrees in social work. Case aids or case assistants often provide support services for the case-carrying social worker.

Article

Community Violence  

Muhammad M. Haj-Yahia, Neil B. Guterman, and Maria João Lobo Antunes

Community violence is a widespread concern that is receiving increasing attention by social workers. We consider here the problem of community violence and the present understanding of its rates, risk factors, protective factors, consequences, and some orientations for prevention and intervention. Growing evidence identifies a multifaceted and multisystemic ecological perspective of risk and protective factors linked with community violence exposure and its effects. Current research points to potentially helpful ameliorative and preventive strategies for social workers to consider at the micro and macro levels; however, the main focus of this article is on the macro-level factors and processes.

Article

Deinstitutionalization in Macro Practice  

Steven P. Segal

The deinstitutionalization policy sought to replace institutional care for populations in need of care and control with prosocial community-based alternatives. U.S. institutional populations, however, have increased since the policy’s inception by 205%. As implemented, with the assistance of advocacy and cost-cutting factions, it has succeeded only in enabling the divestiture of state responsibility for target groups. It sought to prevent unnecessary admission and retention in institutions. As implemented, deinstitutionalization initiated a process that involved a societal shift in the type of institutions and institutional alternatives used to house its target groups, often referred to as trans-institutionalization. For many in need of institutional placements, it has succeeded in preventing all admissions, expanding admissions for others. In seeking to develop community alternatives for housing, treating, and habilitating or rehabilitating its target groups, it has succeeded in establishing a variety of alternative living arrangements and showcase and model programs illustrating what can be done; yet, it has failed to deliver on investments in such programs to serve the majority of its target groups. It has resulted in the abandonment of substantial numbers to homelessness. It has been documented, from political, economic, legal, and social perspectives, how this policy has affected the care and control of populations such as older adults, children, people with mental illness or developmental disabilities, people under correctional-system supervision, and, more recently, individuals without a home. Suggestions for a truer implementation of deinstitutionalization’s initial aspirations are available.

Article

Education Policy  

Melissa Jonson-Reid and Sheretta Butler-Barnes

Educational policy in the United States has evolved over the last hundred years to address a vast range of issues, including creating a universal system of primary and secondary education, trying to ensure equity and access for students, preparing youth for the workforce, preparing youth for postsecondary education, improving academic outcomes, and school safety. The following summarizes key historical trends, judicial rulings, and legislative milestones that have helped form educational policy in the United States. The current role and potential for social work engagement in macro level advocacy for educational policy is also discussed. Special attention is given to current challenges.

Article

Human Trafficking Overview  

Fariyal Ross-Sheriff and Julie Orme

Human trafficking (HT), also known as modern-day slavery, has received significant emphasis since the early 21st century. Globalization and transnational migration trends continue to amplify economic disparities and increase the vulnerability of oppressed populations to HT. The four major forms of exploitation are labor trafficking, sex trafficking, state-imposed forced labor, and forced marriage. Victims of HT are exploited for their labor or services and are typically forced to work in inhumane conditions. The majority of these victims are from marginalized populations throughout the world. Although both men and women are victims of HT, women and children are heavily targeted. Interdisciplinary and multi-level approaches are necessary to effectively combat HT. Combating HT is particularly relevant to the profession of social work with its mission of social justice. To address the needs of the most vulnerable of society, prevention, intervention and advocacy strategies are presented. Roles and implications for social workers in education and practice and for the profession are presented at the micro level.

Article

Youth Services  

Elizabeth T. Gershoff

Youth services are programs, activities, and services aimed at providing a range of opportunities for school-aged children, including mentoring, recreation, education, training, community service, or supervision in a safe environment. The current thrust of youth services is an emphasis on positive youth development. Best practices in youth services include the provision of safety, appropriate supervision, supportive relationships, opportunities to belong, positive social norms, support for efficacy and skill building, and integration of community, school, and family efforts.