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Article

Early Brain Development for Social Work Practice  

Terri Combs-Orme

Development of the brain in the first 3 years of life is genetically programmed but occurs in response to environmental stimuli. The brain is organized “from the bottom up,” that is, from simpler to more complex structures and functions, so the experiences and environment that shape early development have consequences that reach far into the future. This entry describes the ontogeny and processes of fetal and infant brain development, as well as major risks to early brain development (during pregnancy and after birth), with emphasis on the factors seen in social-work practice. Neuroscience research is changing social work practice, and understanding early brain development and the contributors to poor development is critical for social workers in medical, mental health, child welfare, and other practice settings.

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

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

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing  

Tonya Edmond and Karen Lawrence

Since its inception in 1987, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy has been the subject of lively debate and controversy, rigorous research both nationally and internationally, and is now used by licensed practitioners across six continents as an effective treatment of trauma symptoms and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The aim of this entry is to provide social work practitioners and researchers with a description of the treatment approach for adults and children, EMDR’s development and theoretical basis, a review of controversial issues, and an overview of the evidence of effectiveness of EMDR across trauma types and populations.

Article

Family: Overview  

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

Family Estrangement  

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

Family Therapy  

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

Filial Responsibility  

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

Foster Care  

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

Functional Behavioral Assessment  

Michelle Alvarez, Kimberly Zammitt, Laura Strunk, and Kevin Filter

A functional behavioral assessment (FBA) is a set of procedures that are used to assess and identify environmental conditions that predict and maintain behavior FBA is a means to determine the purpose of a person’s behavior and the ways in which the behavior is reinforced in the person’s environment. Underlying the functional assessment of behavior is the assumption that the way one behaves is functionally related to aspects of the environment. This relation is reliable, predictable, and observable, and can thus be assessed by an outside observer. The FBA entails the use of a series of methods to determine the variables that contextualize a behavior of interest. Contextual variables can include any aspect of the individual’s environment and are usually separated temporally between those factors that occur before a behavior and those which occur after. The latter are termed consequences and the former are typically referred to as antecedents. Usually, the behaviors under study, especially in applied settings, are called target behaviors. Temporally, these factors are conceptualized in an ABC framework: antecedent, behavior, and consequence. The behavior of interest is the target of a subsequent intervention; the intervention is informed by the FBA and utilizes the understanding of the behavior’s purpose. Antecedents are altered such that target behaviors are no longer prompted or motivated by environmental conditions, new socially acceptable behaviors are taught that can access the desired reinforcer and replace the target behavior, and reinforcers are altered to decrease access when the target behavior occurs and increase access when the replacement behavior occurs. FBAs are frequently used in schools to address problem behaviors. Problem behaviors occur with students in the school setting for many different reasons. Research has determined that the use of FBAs is useful in identifying environmental factors that predict and maintain problem behaviors. The use of FBAs in the school setting has proven to increase positive student outcomes. This article demonstrates how FBAs can be used effectively in different settings.

Article

Grandparents  

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

Group Work with School-Aged Children  

Craig Winston LeCroy and Jenny McCullough Cosgrove

Research has shown groups are an efficient and effective modality for interventions with school-aged children. Psychoeducational and psychotherapeutic groups are frequently used to guide children in areas such as skills training, emotional regulation, violence prevention, and grief. There are key developmental questions to consider when working with children that take into consideration factors such as cognitive development and emotional maturity. Overall, groups can be an efficient and effective intervention in the school setting for use by school social workers.

Article

HIV/AIDS: Children  

Larry D. Icard, Jacqueline J. Lloyd, and Gisoo Barnes

HIV/AIDS has introduced an array of issues and needs for children, youth, and their families. Family-focused interventions have emerged as a viable strategy for researchers and practitioners seeking effective and appropriate responses for the prevention, treatment, and care of children, youth, and families affected by HIV/AIDS. This discussion provides an overview of the epidemiology of HIV infection among children and youth, and highlights common elements and trends in the development, implementation, and testing of family-focused interventions. The discussion concludes with a commentary on areas for future attention.

Article

HIV in an Era of Biomedical Advances: Prevention  

Diana Rowan

Since the start of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) pandemic, numerous biomedical advances have caused the social-work response to shift from management of a crisis to prevention of an incurable, but treatable chronic disease. About 1.3 million people in the United States and more than 33 million people worldwide are estimated to be living with HIV. Rates of incidence in impoverished, marginalized communities are highest, with the rates continuing to increase among young African American gay and bisexual men. Other communities at high risk are people who are incarcerated, engage in sex work or other kinds of exchange sex, and participate in risky injection-drug use. Minority groups are often impacted because of reduced access to quality medical care and HIV testing. Social workers in HIV prevention work are challenged to educate clients and communities on the sexual risk continuum, provide more interventions that are culturally tailored for disadvantaged at-risk groups, and implement evidence-based HIV prevention and testing programs worldwide. The National HIV/AIDS Strategy now provides structure to funding opportunities for HIV prevention programs, and there is disparate access to effective treatments worldwide for those living with HIV.

Article

Home-based Interventions  

Susan F. Allen and Elizabeth M. Tracy

Home visiting and home-based intervention are two strategies used by social workers when working with individuals or families in direct practice. The basic rationale for home-based work is the benefit to social workers’ assessments and understanding of clients, as well as the benefit of more relevant practice with families who are seen in the setting where difficulties are occurring. Home-based interventions have been shown to be effective in improving health and decreasing family discord. When visiting the home, the social worker has the added responsibility of respecting the privacy of families as a guest in their homes.

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

Human Needs: Family  

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

Human Sexuality  

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

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

Improving the Self-Esteem and Social Skills of Students with Learning Disabilities  

James C. Raines

Learning disabilities (LD) are the most common disability in public schools. Since 1975, students with learning disabilities have been eligible for a free appropriate public education, including special services such as school social work. Students with LD may be diagnosed via standardized achievement measures and clinical assessment. Despite 40 years of progress, the evidence suggests that students with LD still feel stigmatized and finish college and enter the workplace at a rate much lower than their nondisabled peers. School social workers can assist students with learning disabilities by assessing their self-esteem and social skills and then providing appropriate intervention. Self-esteem interventions should target students with LD, their parents, and their peers in the least restrictive environment. Social skills interventions may target students with LD as a separate group or provide those skills as part of universal inclusive education aimed at all children in the classroom.