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Article

African American Social Welfare History  

Iris Carlton-LaNey

This article discusses the African American social welfare system that began to develop during the early 20th century. This social welfare system, designed by African Americans to serve African Americans, addressed needs that were not being met by any other formal social services while the nascent social work profession was emerging. The myriad programs included settlement houses, boys and girls programs, training schools, and day nurseries. The women’s club movement played a critical role in the development of this social welfare system and provided much of the impetus for change and inclusion. Through formal organizations, including the National Urban League (NUL) and the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), and an array of clubs and social groups, social services were extended to urban and rural communities throughout the United States.

Article

African Americans Overview  

Larry E. Davis, Trina R. Williams Shanks, and John M. Wallace Jr.

Since their arrival 400 years ago, African Americans have endured 246 years of chattel slavery and 100 years of apartheid followed by decades of systematic racial discrimination and injustice. Nevertheless, Africans and their descendants have contributed significantly to the building of the United States and have greatly influenced every sector of society. To document this tenuous position, we summarize key demographic, economic, and social trends as well as the potential role of macro social work to improve outcomes. Present-day racism in the United States is persistent and frequently underestimated, so combatting anti-Blackness and White supremacy at structural and societal levels is essential.

Article

Aging: Overview  

Lisa A. Ferretti and Philip McCallion

Growth in the aging population and increasing concerns in terms of health issues and financial and caregiving challenges among older adults are well established. Historically, the Older Americans Act has provided the delivery structure and services for older adults in need. Agencies within these structures have also engaged with housing and health care providers and funders. The structures and relationships are not adequate to support the desires of older adults for self-determination and aging in place and remain too treatment oriented rather than preventative and supportive in focus. Macro social work must engage in building aging structures, services, communities, and resources more fit for changing purposes.

Article

Early Childhood Home Visiting  

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

Financial Capability  

Margaret Sherrard Sherraden, Jin Huang, and David Ansong

In a context of financial insecurity and inequality, exacerbated by a global pandemic in which many people are struggling to survive, financial capability has become increasingly important. Financial capability combines the ability to act with the opportunity to act in ways that contribute to financial well-being. Improving financial capability requires improved lifelong access to appropriate and beneficial policies, financial products, and services, along with financial education and guidance. Historically, social work played a key role in building financial capability through interventions in households, organizations, communities, and policies. In the 21st century, despite significant developments, social workers must do more to eliminate systemic and persistent economic, racial, and political barriers to financial well-being.

Article

Food (In)Security  

Maryah Stella Fram

This entry provides an overview of current knowledge and thinking about the nature, causes, and consequences of food insecurity as well as information about the major policies and programs aimed at alleviating food insecurity in the United States. Food insecurity is considered at the nexus of person and environment, with discussion focusing on the biological, psychological, social, and economic factors that are interwoven with people’s access to and utilization of food. The diversity of experiences of food insecurity is addressed, with attention to issues of age, gender, culture, and community context. Finally, implications for social work professionals are suggested.

Article

Homelessness  

Yin-Ling Irene Wong and Claudia J. Vogelsang

Homelessness is a major social problem in the United States. The article starts with an overview of homelessness in American history, followed by the definition of contemporary homelessness, its prevalence, and the composition and diverse characteristics of the homeless population. Contrasting perspectives on what causes homelessness are discussed, while the multidimensionality of the homeless experience is explored. The unique experiences of three subpopulations, including homeless persons who are involved in criminal justice, emerging youth leaving foster care, and older homeless persons are further featured. Public and community responses to homelessness are examined, highlighting evidence-based and emerging practices that aim at reducing and preventing homelessness. A discussion of international homelessness follows, as homelessness is recognized as a global issue affecting people living in poverty in both the developed and developing world. The article concludes with discussion of the implications for social work.

Article

Home Visits and Family Engagement  

Barbara Wasik and Donna Bryant

The importance of engaging families in home visiting was recognized more than a century ago as M. E. Richmond provided guidelines for involving families in the visiting process. She stressed individualizing services and helping families develop skills that would serve them after the home visiting services ended. During the 20th century, early organized efforts in home visiting in the United States built on methods used in other countries, especially European countries. Although interest fluctuated in the United States during the past century, since 2010 interest has increased due primarily to the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that provided for home visiting services to respond to the needs of children and families in order to improve health and development outcomes for vulnerable children and their families. Engaging families is essential for a productive home visiting experience requiring thoughtful program activities as well as knowledge and skills on the part of the visitor. Program responsibilities begin with the need to make good employment decisions regarding home visitors and then to provide effective training, supervision, and ongoing professional development. Providing professional training in helping skills such as observation, listening, and ways of asking questions to gain or clarify information is essential to ensure visitors can engage families. Using principles for effective home visiting—including establishing a collaborative relationship with the family; individualizing services; being responsive to family culture, language, and values; and prompting problem-solving skills—can enhance the ability of the visitor to engage the family. Programs can provide opportunities for visitors to enhance their skills in developing relationships with and engaging families. Engaging families is a reciprocal process. Some families will have a positive orientation toward working with visitors to accomplish their own goals and objectives; others may be less willing to engage. Although the program and visitors have the main responsibility for engagement, they will face challenges with some families and may need to seek creative solutions to actively engage. Just as home visitors need to engage parents in order to facilitate new knowledge and skills, parents need to engage their children to foster development. Recent research identified a set of parent–child interactions that visitors can incorporate to foster parent engagement with young children. These challenges are shared across home visit programs, as well as across cultures and countries, regardless of the professional training of the visitors or the goals and procedures of the programs.

Article

Individual Practice with Undocumented Immigrants  

Flavio F. Marsiglia, Jaime M. Booth, and Adrienne Baldwin

Undocumented immigrants represent a large and vulnerable population in the United States. When conducting individual practice with undocumented immigrants, social workers must be aware of the laws that impact service provision, the unique psychosocial stressors that are experienced by this population, as well as their strengths that can be built upon. To that end, this chapter provides a snapshot of who undocumented immigrants are, a history of laws governing immigration in the in United States, an overview of the current legal climate, and a discussion of the process of acculturation and psychosocial stressors and strengths. Specifically, this chapter outlines environmental, instrumental, social, interpersonal, and societal sources of stress and strength. The chapter concludes with a discussion of how laws and unique psychosocial stressors impact individual practice with undocumented immigrants and provides suggestions for culturally competent practice.

Article

Latinos and Latinas: Mexicans  

Herman Curiel

According to the 2010 Census, 308.7 million people resided in the United States on April 1, 2010, of which 50.5 million (or 16%) were of Hispanic or Latino origin. The Mexican-origin population increased by 54% since the previous Census, and it had the largest numeric increase (11.2 million), growing from 20.6 million in 2000 to 31.8 million in 2010 (Ennis, Rio-Vargas, & Albert, 2011). The current U.S. Census demographic information was used to project the social needs of Mexican-origin Hispanics. An estimated 11.2 million unauthorized Hispanic-origin migrants reside in the United States. Select provisions of the failed 2007 Immigration Reform Act are discussed in context of the Reagan Administration’s 1986 Immigration Reform Act. Key words are defined to facilitate understanding of issues presented that affect the well-being of the Mexican-origin population. Best social work practices for working with Mexican-origin Hispanics are proposed in the context of issues identified in the narrative. Future trends are speculative predictions with suggestions based on the author's social work practice experience, research, and knowledge of the literature.

Article

Mutual Financial Aid and Saving Associations (MFASAs) among Asian Americans  

Intae Yoon

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

Rural Practice in Macro Settings  

Laura Trull, H. Stephen Cooper, and Freddie L. Avant

Rural social work, the history of which stretches back more than a century, has been revitalized since the mid-1970s. The renewed interest in rural social work has led to an increase in scholarship on rural social work practice, much of which is a direct result of the efforts of the Rural Social Work Caucus and its annual National Institute on Social Work and Human Services in Rural Areas, as well as social work influence in rural organizations in allied professions. Recent research endeavors have moved our understanding of the differences between rural and urban communities beyond the common definitions, which are limited to population and population density. We have also come to realize that there are many different types of rural communities, all of which have different characteristics, needs, and so forth. Rural practitioners and researchers have also reached a better understanding of the following: rural culture and lifestyles, the importance of approaching rural communities from a strengths perspective rather than a deficit or problem focus, and the challenges to rural practice presented by the characteristics that are common across rural communities (e.g., lack of anonymity, dual relationships). Rural areas have also been sharply and uniquely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Not surprisingly, the increase in research on rural social work practice has been accompanied by an interest in preparing social workers for rural practice and growth in the number of graduate programs focused on such. The importance of these programs lies in the unique nature of the challenges faced by rural communities. For example, many rural communities are experiencing sharp population declines while at the same time seeing substantial increases in adults who are 65 years of age and older. Other common trends include economic decline and subsequent increase in social issues; substantial issues with substance abuse, especially methamphetamine and opioids; lack of technology infrastructure; concerns related to the environment and/or conversation of natural resources; and lack of services for veterans. The key to successfully addressing these issues in rural communities is involvement from social workers who are prepared to practice in the rural context.

Article

Rural Social Work in Australia  

Margaret Alston

This article examines the role of social workers in rural and remote areas of Australia. The uniqueness of Australia’s landscape, its vast distances, and sparse population base, create unique issues relating to service delivery in general and social work in particular. High levels of poverty, poorer health, lower socio-economic status, and an aging population base typify Australia’s remote areas. Despite these factors, inland regions of the country are subject to economic rationalist policies that make service access problematic. It is in these regions that rural and remote social workers practice. The article outlines the personal, practical, and professional challenges facing social workers and notes the unique opportunities available to workers who choose to live and work in these regions.

Article

Street-Connected Children  

Neela Dabir

This article focuses on the long-standing global concern of children who live or work on the street, with developing countries having a larger share of the problem. It reviews the paradigm shift in the way we look at the “street children” phenomenon and the appropriateness of the new terminology, street-connected children. The article maintains that with an increased understanding of different aspects of the life experiences of these children, through research and practice, it is possible to move toward a more precise definition and estimation of the phenomenon. It also elaborates how social work interventions in different parts of the world have demonstrated effective strategies to work with street-connected children and include them in the larger agenda of child protection at the local, national, and global levels.

Article

Urban Practice  

Wendy Cholico

Social work practice is best understood and practiced when taking into account the local context. The urban context of social work practice may share much with suburban and rural contexts but also brings with it unique problems and opportunities. Location in urban cities plays a major role on the social, economic, and environmental justice of group populations. Within close proximity and density of some locations, groups of people become isolated due to social and economic status. Subsequently, opportunities that foster well-being are limited and environmental hazards such as water and air pollution further suppress vulnerable group populations, limiting opportunities due to structural disparities. Distribution of environments, resources, and opportunities is connected to social justice through the relationship of people and environment, combined by race, gender, and class. Furthermore, gentrification is an evolving social problem that leads to displacement of vulnerable groups, challenging social workers to be social, economic, environmental, and political change agents that disrupt injustices on behalf of marginalized populations.