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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

Disparities and Inequalities: An Overview  

Hyejin Jung and King Davis

This entry presents an overview of disparities and inequalities. Disparity is defined as measurable differences between individuals, groups, races, regions, states, or nations. The frequency and severity of disparities distinguish groups by multiple identifiable characteristics. In the United States, minority populations have historically ranked higher in prevalence and incidence than others on most disparity indices. In many nations, at-risk groups are distinguished by historically high rates of disparities. Although the level of adverse conditions has declined in the United States and abroad, troublesome disparities exist in nations torn by war, disagreements, disputes, tribal differences, and dictatorial leaders. The major disparity indices include excess mortality rates from infectious diseases like COVID-19, poor health, poverty, unemployment, limited access to fresh and affordable food, absence of health care, absence of potable water, violence, and substandard housing. It is assumed that populations do not voluntarily choose these disparate conditions or cause them through personal deficits. The historical persistence of disparities and inequalities over decades is indicative of systemic or structural causation. This entry contributes to the historical, theoretical, and evidentiary base of macro social work practices that focus on changes in policies, leadership, planning, resource distribution, agency processes and functions, network development, organizations, lobbying, and communities.

Article

Disproportionality and Disparities  

Rowena Fong, Ruth G. McRoy, and Alan Dettlaff

Racial disproportionality and disparities are problems affecting children and families of color in the child welfare, juvenile justice, education, mental-health, and health-care systems. The term “disproportionality” refers to the ratio between the percentage of persons in a particular racial or ethnic group at a particular decision point or experiencing an event (maltreatment, incarceration, school dropouts) compared to the percentage of the same racial or ethnic group in the overall population. This ratio could suggest underrepresentation, proportional representation, or overrepresentation of a population experiencing a particular phenomenon. The term “disparity” refers to “unequal treatment or outcomes for different groups in the same circumstance or at the same decision point.” A close examination of disproportionality and disparities brings attention to differences in outcomes, often by racial group, and by social service systems. It is necessary to examine the reasons for these differences in outcomes and to be sure that culturally competent practices are upheld.

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

Incarcerated Women  

Patricia O’Brien

This article summarizes the incidence of women in the United States who have been sentenced to prison as a consequence of a felony conviction for violation of state or federal laws. It also describes their characteristics and co-occurring health conditions; issues that contribute to women’s experiences after release from prison, including those that lead to success and failure during re-entry; and gendered practices and policies that provide alternatives to incarceration.

Article

Income and Wealth Inequality  

Laurel Sariscsany

Reversing extreme economic inequality is one of the grand challenges for social work, identified as one of the most critical issues in the field. Two key types of economic inequality, income and wealth inequality are described. Although, wealth and income inequality are often discussed synonymously they have differing levels of inequality and impact clients’ lives differently. Perhaps more importantly, as this article describes, solving income and wealth inequality require differing solutions. The article further explores the specific income and wealth inequality experienced by women and people of color, due in part to discrimination. Lastly, the efforts of social workers to address economic inequality through research, practice, and advocacy are described.

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

Intersectionality and Social Work  

Ann Marie Yamada, Lisa Marie Werkmeister Rozas, and Bronwyn Cross-Denny

Intersectionality refers to the intersection of identities that shape an individual’s standing in society. The combining of identities produces distinct life experiences, in part depending on the oppression and privilege associated with each identity. The intersectional approach is an alternative to the cultural competence model that can help social workers better address the unique and complex needs of their diverse clients. This entry provides a general overview of the historical and interdisciplinary roots of intersectionality and addresses its use as a theoretical perspective, methodology, mechanism for social change and social justice, and policy framework in social work. The role of intersectionality in social work policy development, teaching, and research will be presented with consideration of future directions and areas for further development.

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

Social Exclusion and Inclusion  

Karen Lyons and Nathalie Huegler

The term social exclusion achieved widespread use in Europe from the late twentieth century. Its value as a concept that is different from poverty, with universal relevance, has since been debated. It is used in Western literature about international development, and some authors have linked it to the notion of capabilities. However, it is not widely used in the social work vocabulary. Conversely, the notion of social inclusion has gained in usage and application. This links with values that underlie promotion of empowerment and participation, whether of individuals, groups, or communities. Both terms are inextricably linked to the realities of inequalities within and between societies and to the principles of human rights and social justice that feature in the international definition of social work.

Article

Urban Planning and Social Work  

Laurie A. Walker

Urban neighborhood disinvestment in the United States resulted in deferred maintenance of buildings and common social problems experienced by residents. Strategies to redevelop neighborhoods include collaboration among many subsystems seeking to collectively invest in places and people. Contemporary federal initiatives focus on incentivizing coordinated investments between existing local community-based organizations, local and federal government, and private investors. Public–private partnerships include anchor institutions with commitments to the long-term success of place-based initiatives who invest their financial, intellectual, social, and political capital. Social workers are embedded in local community-based organizations and relationships with residents in neighborhoods experiencing redevelopment. Social workers can help guide top-down and bottom-up approaches to neighborhood revitalization toward more equitable and inclusive processes and outcomes. Resident engagement in redeveloping neighborhoods takes many forms and requires differing skill sets for social workers. Urban redevelopment is a global trend with common critiques regarding relying on gentrification and market-driven strategies with private investors.