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Article

Abolitionist Social Work  

Noor Toraif and Justin C. Mueller

Abolitionist social work is a theoretical framework and political project within the field of social work and an extension of the project of carceral abolitionism more broadly. Abolitionists seek to abolish punishment, prisons, police, and other carceral systems because they view these as being inherently destructive systems. Abolitionists argue that these carceral systems cause physiological, cognitive, economic, and political harms for incarcerated people, their families, and their communities; reinforce White supremacy; disproportionately burden the poor and marginalized; and fail to produce justice and healing after social harms have occurred. In their place, abolitionists want to create material conditions, institutions, and forms of community that facilitate emancipation and human flourishing and consequently render prisons, police, and other carceral systems obsolete. Abolitionist social workers advance this project in multiple ways, including critiquing the ways that social work and social workers are complicit in supporting or reinforcing carceral systems, challenging the expansion of carceral systems and carceral logics into social service domains, dismantling punitive and carceral institutions and methods of responding to social harms, implementing nonpunitive and noncarceral institutions and methods of responding to social harms, and strengthening the ability of communities to design and implement their own responses to social conflict and harm in the place of carceral institutions. As a theoretical framework, abolitionist social work draws from and extends the work of other critical frameworks and discourses, including anticarceral social work, feminist social work, dis/ability critical race studies, and transformative justice.

Article

Adult Safeguarding  

Nigel Hall

Safeguarding is an area of social work activity concerned with the care and protection of children or adults who have care and support needs and who may be at risk of abuse or neglect. This is a major concern for social workers who usually have prime responsibility for ensuring as far as possible that the vulnerable clients they work with are protected. People’s ability to keep themselves safe is partly determined by their individual circumstances, and this may change at different stages in their life, so it is important that safeguarding is always considered in relation to the wishes of the person concerned. Effective safeguarding depends on a careful consideration of the factors involved and will almost always involve a multi-agency partnership approach. This article will primarily examine the situation regarding safeguarding vulnerable adults in the United Kingdom.

Article

Advocacy  

Diane R. Bessel and Erin Carman

Social work is different from other helping professions in that its mission and ethical standards require members to not only serve persons in need, but to support their empowerment and work for the amelioration of harmful social conditions and inequities through advocacy. Social work advocacy has taken many historic and contemporary forms, reflecting the broad spectrum of social work practice and related knowledge, values, skills, and cognitive and affective processes. Given increasing diversity and complexity in the world today and the continuing need to advance human rights, as well as social, economic, and environment justice, ongoing commitment and attention to social work advocacy is needed, especially as it pertains to social work education, practice, and operational approaches.

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

The Association of Social Work Boards  

M. Jenise Comer and Joyce A. Bell

The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to the regulation of social work practice. The Association was created to protect clients and client systems from harm caused by incompetent, unethical, or unlicensed social work practice. The primary and most important responsibility of ASWB is to develop and maintain a national exam that is valid, reliable, and legally defensible. The Association contracts with a test vendor to administer the exam in an identical, secure environment to social work candidates for licensure in the United States, Canada, the U.S. Virgin Island, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the District of Columbia. Accomplishing the task of providing a reliable and valid exam involves a complex process of recruiting and training. The volunteers and staff are competent to complete the arduous task of constructing and reviewing different forms of the exam for each level of licensure. The test vendor and a consulting psychometrician provide supervision and analysis of test data to confirm the test performs at or above industry standards for a high stakes exam, which determines entry to practice based on a passing score. ASWB staff members also engage in several activities that support state and provincial boards to advance regulation and safe practice. The purpose, mission, and history of ASWB will be presented in detail, along with focused attention on the exam and additional services provided to the regulatory community. Future issues will identify the Board of Director’s 2019 Strategic plan. Opportunities, challenges, and threats to professional regulation include attention to international social work practice regulation, license mobility, and deregulation.

Article

Community Economic Development  

Steven D. Soifer and Joseph B. McNeely

The basic concepts and history of community economic development (CED) span from the 1960s to the present, during which there have been four different waves of CED. During this time period, practitioners in the field have worked with limited resources to help rebuild low-to-moderate-income communities in the United States. There are particular values, theories, strategies, tactics, and programs used to bring about change at the community level. The accomplishments in the CED field are many, and social workers have played a role in helping with community building at the neighborhood, city, county, state and federal levels.

Article

Community Resilience  

Cindy Sousa and Tamarah Moss

Community resilience describes the dynamic, ongoing process of coping and recovery in the face of collective stressors and trauma. Social and monetary capital, technological expertise, and strong physical and organizational infrastructure all undergird strong systematic responses to massive hardships. Other factors that underlie community resilience, such as shared philosophies; patterns and cultures of survival and meaning-making; emotional qualities such as optimism and trust; and norms around cooperation and interdependence, are more ethereal. Our world faces continual onslaughts to collective well-being. Thus, notions and practice models around community resilience are increasingly urgent to develop, with implications for macro practice across multiple methods - including community organization, policy practice, and management/administration.

Article

Criminal Justice: Overview  

Michael C. Gearhart

The American criminal justice system is comprised of four main components: law enforcement, the judiciary, corrections, and legislature. These components work together to investigate crimes, arrest individuals, weigh evidence of guilt, monitor individuals who are found guilty, and make laws. Though the criminal justice system is meant to administer justice in an equitable manner, a number of controversial policies and practices exist within the criminal justice system. These practices are typically rooted in historical biases that continue to create disparities today. Social work has a long history of reforming the criminal justice system. However, modern disparities illustrate that there is still work to be done. The skills of macro social workers are foundational to present-day advocacy efforts and emerging criminal justice practice, highlighting the enduring significance of macro social work practice in criminal justice reform.

Article

Critical Race Theory  

V. Thandi Sulé

Critical race theory (CRT) is a framework that unapologetically asserts how and why race matters in the maintenance of U.S. policies and practices. In doing so, CRT counters discourse that situates discrimination and disparities within the realm of individual behaviors or psychological deficits. Therefore, racism is seen for what it is—a willful, institutionalized, and dehumanizing way of being. Though racism prevailed as the quintessential problem of the 20th century, the 21st century has revealed that the color line remains remarkably undisturbed. Whether one is focusing on housing, education, employment, wealth, health, safety, or justice, racial disparities and inequities exist to the disadvantage of racially minoritized people. Born out of discontent for legal remedies for inequality, CRT speaks to the universal way that racism immobilizes minoritized people—thereby providing an almost unwavering advantage to white people. This review provides an overview of the tenets of CRT and how those tenets connect with social work values and practice.

Article

Critical Race Theory and Macro Social Work Practice  

Aswood Bousseau and Diane Martell

American racism has produced systems of oppression that continue to impact Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) in the United States. Critical race theory (CRT) asserts that racism is a longstanding, pervasive, and permanent component of social structure. Perceptions of and concepts relating to race are used to manipulate societal conditions to add value to and benefit the dominant, white population. CRT can be used as a lens to (a) understand current social and economic conditions, (b) analyze policies including municipal, state, and federal laws, regulations, and court decisions, and (c) develop and implement policies and programs that increase racial justice. For social work administrators, CRT provides a framework for identifying and assessing implicit and explicit racism in internal and external organizational policies, structures, and practices. In community work, CRT places race and racism at the center of localized patterns of disempowerment and inequality.

Article

Culturally Competent Practice  

Doman Lum

This article defines cultural competence and culturally competent practice and focuses on cultural awareness, knowledge acquisition, and skill development as key components. It traces the historical development of cultural competence in the disciplines of psychology and social work, pointing out how cultural competence has become a professional standard. Cultural competence has also been recognized on the federal and state health and human services levels. Cultural competence is viewed on the practitioner, agency, and community levels as well as the micro, mezzo, and macro dimensions. Among the implications for practice are the issues of cultural competence and cultural competencies, the ethics of cultural competence, social context, and biculturation and multiculturalization. Cultural competence research is briefly surveyed, as is the relationship between cultural competence and critical race theory.

Article

Dual Degree Programs  

Srinika Jayaratne

Dual degree programs are growing rapidly around the country with increasing numbers of universities offering students an opportunity to earn an M.S.W. along with another degree. While two degrees offer clear benefits to the students and provide revenue to the institutions, they also raise some issues and concerns about the “relative worth” of an M.S.W.

Article

Empowerment Practices  

Debora Ortega and Jessica Rodriguez-JenKins

Empowerment practices are rooted in empowerment theory and fundamentally focus on power as a source of equity and inequity. Based on transformation ideology, empowerment is a counter to perceived and objective powerlessness. Amelioration of client problems contain both personal and structural dimensions and are accomplished through multilevel interventions. In this approach to practice, the professional is not the central power figure who assesses, designs, implements, and intervenes on behalf of the client. Rather, historically marginalized people, families, and communities are considered experts in their experience of problems. Empowerment practices are rooted in an understanding of power (personal, social, and structural), consciousness transformation, interactive systems, importance of relationships, and the long history of societal dehumanization of marginalized communities. In this model, social work research is characterized as a form of practice that is influenced by larger social inequities and can be used to reproduce inequity or create partnerships for change with marginalized communities.

Article

Environmental Justice  

Christina L. Erickson

Environmental justice in social work is the study and practice of assuring all people are protected from environmental burdens and are able to live, work, learn, and play in safe and healthy communities. Reducing the burdens and increasing the benefits of nature and human-made infrastructures are important social work efforts toward environmental justice. Awareness of environmental injustices followed the social movements of Civil Rights, recognition of environmental degradations, and efforts to save large swaths of land and endangered species in the Wilderness Act. Environmental justice is intertwined with social and economic justice, and the pursuit engages social workers in local to international struggles for access to nature’s benefits, and freedom from hazards that are shielded from people who are economically wealthy. Moreover, environmental justice calls wealthy individuals and communities to realign resource consumption to reduce environmental degradation and increase environmental sustainability.

Article

Ethics for Macro Social Work  

Cecilia Aguayo and Magdalena Calderón-Orellana

The concept of ethics in social work is the practical knowledge based on professional experience. To understand ethics in macro social work, first, ethics and morals will be described broadly as well their relevance to social work identity. Then, codes of ethics, standards, and ethics committees are presented as components of integrity systems. In the same way, professional principles and values together with their relation to macro–social work definitions are reviewed. These account for procedures that display autonomy, reciprocity, reflexivity, and conflict acceptance to arrive at prudent and fair decisions. As an applied ethics, social work ethics is concerned with the systematic analysis of ethical issues in practical contexts. In this sense, the work is focused on decision-making in macro social work, bringing out the challenges that professionals face and how they address these challenges. This analysis will be done considering the moral dilemmas that might arise for social workers in practice with/in communities, organizations, and the public policy arena. Finally, to argue decisions and actions in professional practice, some philosophical approaches are presented, which are selected according to their relevance to macro social work. Summarizing, communicative ethics, the ethics of conflict, the ethics of recognition and moral offense, and intercultural ethics are reviewed in order to avoid all kinds of fundamentalism and relativity in professional action.

Article

Family Services  

Katharine Briar-Lawson and Toni Naccarato

This overview of family services addresses some of the demographic trends and diversity in U.S. families. Inclusionary and exclusionary dynamics are cited, including the ways that income and race may insidiously determine discriminatory practices and differential outcomes. An array of family services are presented. They build on the evidence-based reviews related to the Family First Prevention Services Act. Key programs cited are Functional Family Therapy, Multisystemic Therapy, Brief Strategic Family Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Nurse–Family Partnership, Healthy Families America, Parent–Child Interaction Therapy, Parents as Teachers, and Homebuilders and Kinship care. Questions are raised about the need for a family support agenda in the United States that addresses diverse intergenerational families, ensuring their capacity to deliver core services to their members and provide equitable and basic guarantees.

Article

Feminist Macro Social Work Practice  

Cheryl A. Hyde

Feminist macro practice is based on principles derived from the political and social analyses of women’s movements in the United States and abroad. As a practice approach, feminism emphasizes gendered analyses and solutions, democratized structures and processes, diversity and inclusivity, linking personal situations with political solutions, and transformative actions. Feminist practice is in concert with a multisystemic approach; it complements and extends strength-based social work. It requires that the practitioner be relational and open to other ways of knowing and understanding.

Article

Fiscal Policy in the United States  

Karen M. Staller

U.S. fiscal policy is of interest to social workers as it concerns issues including structural racism, economic justice, and income inequality. U.S. fiscal policy refers to the role of the government in taxing and spending, the budget appropriations process, and public budgets (including federal and state revenue and spending). Federal revenue includes payroll and income taxes (personal and corporate). Federal outlays include discretionary and mandatory entitlement spending. There are a number of ongoing contentious debates about U.S. fiscal policy, including those involving the size and function of government, deficit financing and borrowing, inequality, and the redistribution of wealth in tax policies.

Article

Generalist and Advanced Generalist Practice in Macro Social Work Practice  

Jason T. Castillo and Grafton H. Hull Jr.

With a growing emphasis on improving human rights and alleviating social inequalities and human suffering in a world that is enduring massive environmental, demographic, technological, and geopolitical shifts, social work educators, scholars, and practitioners must determine how to prepare generalist and advanced generalist social work practitioners to engage in macro social work practice within their respective levels of competency. Steeped in ecological systems, person-in-environment, strengths, and empowerment perspectives, macro social work practice among general and advanced generalist practitioners have focused primarily on the communication, interaction, and transactional processes occurring between and among organizations, communities, and other systems. While beneficial, these perspectives do not account for differences in power, values, attitudes, beliefs, behavior, status, or roles between and among powerful and privileged entities in the system. By operating according to a humanistic perspective that accounts for differences in power, status, and roles of diverse entities in the system, generalist and advanced generalist practitioners engaged in macro social work practice may begin to alleviate social inequalities and human suffering occurring in the United States and abroad.

Article

Genocide  

Jacquelyn C.A. Meshelemiah and Raven E. Lynch

Genocides have persisted around the world for centuries, yet the debate persists about what intentions and subsequent actions constitute an actual genocide. As a result, some crimes against humanity, targeted rape campaigns, and widespread displacement of marginalized groups of people around the globe have not been formally recognized as a genocide by world powers while others have. The 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide set out to provide clarity about what constituted a genocide and the corresponding expected behaviors of nations that bear witness to it. Still, even with this United Nations document in place, there remains some debate about genocides. The United States, a superpower on the world stage, did not sign on to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide until 1988 due to a belief that its participation was not necessary as a civilized world leader that had its own checks and balances. More genocides have taken place since the enactment of this 1948 legislation. Genocides that have taken place pre- and post-1948 affirm the need for nations around the world to agree to a set of behaviors that protect targeted groups of people from mass destruction and prescribe punishment for those who perpetrate such atrocities. Although it may seem that identifying genocidal behaviors toward a group of people would be clear and convincing based on witnesses and/or deaths of targeted members, history has shown this not to be the case time and time again. Perpetrators tend to deny such behaviors or claim innocence in the name of self-defense. Regardless of any acknowledgment of wrongdoing, genocides are the world’s greatest crime against humanity.