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Article

Increasing School Success for Children in Foster Care and Other Residential Placements  

Aakanksha Sinha and Ruth G. McRoy

Every year thousands of children are removed from their families and are placed into out-of-home care. While these children are placed in care settings with a hope of a better future, they are often faced with many challenges that impact their short and long terms growth. As of 2017, 442,995 children have been removed from their families and placed in the U.S. foster care system for an average of 20.1 months. Placement occurs for several reasons, such as neglect, parent incarceration, drug abuse, and caretakers’ inability to cope. Twenty-seven percent (117,110) have been in care over two years, and all of these children face many obstacles in life that can impact their short- and long-term well-being. One of the most significant challenges they face is access to a stable educational environment that supports positive mental, emotional, behavioral, physical, and social growth. Frequent moves, lack of coordination between schools, and underdeveloped infrastructure to support unique needs are some of the significant predictors of disproportionately poor education outcomes for children in foster care and other residential settings. The lack of stable educational environment leads to a number of challenges related to enrollment, stability, access to special services, peer relations, grade retention, and caregiver and teacher familiarity with academic strengths and weaknesses of the child. To improve their educational outcomes, there is a need for advocacy and significant changes at the at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels. Consistent efforts need to be made by stakeholders, such as state and federal government, schools, child welfare systems, and community partners to address systemic inequities, improve current policies and practices, increase accessibility to quality schools, provide mental health services, and, most importantly, establish a stable environment that will enable the youth to flourish and succeed.

Article

Intellectual Disabilities  

Leah Igdalsky

Social workers working with individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families require an understanding of the disabilities themselves as well as the larger context of disability in society. Individuals with disabilities face particular risks for poverty and poor healthcare, and it is essential for social workers to understand the complex web of social services available. Furthermore, social workers often work not only with the person with a disability but also with their caregiving families.

Article

Intercountry Adoption in Australia  

Patricia Fronek

Australian research on intercountry adoption in Australia is reported with particular reference to social work, divergent and competing interests of various stakeholders, and the highly political and contested nature of its practice in Australia. The practice of intercountry adoption in Australia is examined from its diffusion into Australia in the 1970s to contemporary times. Government approved Australian intercountry adoption programs began operation in the 1970s and although always small in number, the recent decline is consistent with global trends. Intercountry adoption in Australia is regulated by state and federal governments and social workers are integral to its practice. Controversies surrounding intercountry adoption in Australia have historically been linked to pressure from lobbyists and the support of some politicians. In 2014, Australia was at a crucial juncture with changes to how intercountry adoption is structured under review by the federal government.

Article

Interventions for Adolescent Depression  

Jacqueline Corcoran

Rates of depression increase during adolescence and may put youth at risk for suicidality, future episodes, and impaired functioning in multiple life domains. Increased vulnerability for depression during this stage may occur because it is when the cognitive capacity for personal reflection, abstract reasoning, and formal operational thought develop; depressive styles for attributing events may hence form, along with hopelessness about the future. However, other biological and social influences may also interact with the increased cognitive vulnerability. Latino ethnicity and female gender appear to exert particular influence. Treatment for adolescent depression includes medication (mainly Prozac and Zoloft), cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and family therapy. Medication and psychosocial treatment is also combined, particularly for treatment-resistant depression.

Article

Interventions for Physically and Sexually Abused Children  

Kathleen Coulborn Faller

Social workers play a vital role in helping physically and sexually abused children. In order to play this role, they need knowledge about the nature of the problem: (1) legal definitions of physical and sexual abuse, (2) its incidence and prevalence, and (3) its signs and symptoms. Social workers have three major roles to play: (1) identifying and reporting child abuse to agencies mandated to intervene; (2) investigating and assessing children and families involved in child abuse; and (3) providing evidence-based interventions, both case management and treatment, to physically and sexually abused children.

Article

Involving Parents in Schools  

Hilary Joyce

Parent involvement is a broad, multidimensional term that refers to parental attitudes, expectations, and behaviors related to their child’s learning and healthy development. Parent involvement in schools is linked to numerous positive outcomes for youth, teachers, and schools and is critical to school improvement; however a number of barriers often prevent parents from becoming fully involved with schools. Several models exist that provide key strategies to enhance parent and family involvement. This article defines parent involvement, explores an expanded view of parent involvement, describes common barriers, and outlines key strategies to enhance parent involvement. Possible implications for social work practice are also provided.

Article

Juvenile Delinquency  

Carolyn Smith

The following article on juvenile delinquency has three major objectives: First, it defines delinquency and discusses its measurement and extent; second, it reviews theory and risk factor data on causes of delinquency; third, it discusses current trends in juvenile justice intervention and delinquency prevention, including social worker involvement.

Article

Juvenile Justice: Juvenile and Family Courts  

Mark Ezell

This section defines and discusses the jurisdictions of the juvenile and family courts as well as their influences on social work practice. The history of the court, several interpretations of it, as well as various reform efforts are reviewed. Opportunities for social workers to be employed by the numerous agencies affiliated with the court, as well as several nontraditional social work roles, are outlined in this section. The final two parts of the section discuss the major innovations and primary challenges faced by the contemporary court such as gender, class, and racial biases in the system, questions about the effectiveness of the court and associated programs. Finally, proposals to abolish or reinvent the juvenile court are presented.

Article

Life Span: Overview  

Lani V. Jones

This entry provides an overview of the life-span perspective focusing on biological developments and social tasks all of which are embedded in a larger sociocultural context from birth to old age within diverse environments, cultures, and historical eras. This section will also focus on how the life-span perspective succeeds traditional life course models that assume to be universal, sequential, and predictable. The life-span perspective of social work departs from approaches based on traditional models that are narrow and focuses on personal deficits, pointing instead to strengths, continued growth, and environmental resources for individuals, families, groups, and communities. Finally, this entry will discuss how the life-span perspective shows great promise for encompassing theory of human development for the purpose of expanding knowledge, promoting “best practice” service delivery, policy regulation and research to enhance the lives of people with whom social workers come into contact.

Article

Life Span: Development and Infancy (Birth to Age Three)  

Cathleen A. Lewandowski

Infancy and young childhood are characterized by rapid cognitive, emotional, and physical development. Each year is marked by specific developmental tasks. Infants need positive parenting, a safe environment, and attention to their basic physical needs. A strong bond with caregivers is also necessary, as this lays the foundation for trust, allowing infants to explore their world. Many of the risk factors, such as prenatal exposure to alcohol and drugs, malnutrition, and abuse and neglect, can be remedied. Interventions such as home visiting, family leave, and nutrition programs are inexpensive and effective, and should receive more attention from social work. Infancy and young childhood are the most crucial periods in a child's development. There is a dynamic and continuous interaction between biology and experience that shapes early human development. Human relationships are the building blocks of healthy development, and children are active participants in their own development.

Article

Life Span: Early Childhood and Preschool  

Donna Harrington and Karen Castellanos-Brown

This article focuses on the early childhood years, from 2 to 5 years of age. There are over 12 million children in this age range in the United States, many of whom face a number of challenges. In this article we discuss cognitive, language, motor, and social development, including relevant theories and major language and motor developmental milestones. We also discuss several family and environmental factors that influence development, including attachment, parenting, working parents, and poverty.

Article

Life Span: Childhood/School Age  

Heather Larkin

School age children are negotiating numerous developmental tasks across distinct lines of development. Social workers recognize that this development is taking place within the context of culture and systems and are oriented toward assisting the most vulnerable members of society. Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are connected to later in life health risk behaviors and serious medical, mental health, and substance abuse problems. The social work profession is poised to work comprehensively in supporting healthy child development and intervening when development has been derailed by ACEs. This builds human capital, which is profitable to society.

Article

Life Span: Young Adulthood  

David B. Miller and Sean Joe

The development period between the ages of 18–25 is called emerging adulthood. Emerging adulthood is characterized by transitions through developmental milestones that facilitate an individual's movement into traditional adulthood roles. During emerging adulthood, individuals acquire, or at least attempt to acquire, the dimensions of adulthood, for example, economic independence and residential stability. This entry highlights the theoretical foundation of emerging adulthood as well as current research and future research directions related to this developmental period.

Article

Life Span: Parenting  

Daphne S. Cain and Terri Combs-Orme

Parenting is a key part of social-work practice and research, particularly in the child welfare arena. Despite significant research and theory in other disciplines about the importance of the parent–child relationship to the quality of parenting, the focus of social work appears to lie in narrow goals such as the prevention of abuse and child placement and to employ interventions that lack significant evidence of effectiveness. This entry summarizes social-work practice and research in the area of parenting and reviews the state of the art overall in research and knowledge about parenting.

Article

Maternal and Child Health  

Valire Carr Copeland and Daniel Hyung Jik Lee

Social reform efforts of the settlement-house movement have provided, in part, the foundation for today’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau’s policies, programs, and services. Planning, implementing, and evaluating policies and programs that affect the health and well-being of mothers and children require a multidisciplinary approach. Social workers, whose skills encompass direct services, advocacy, planning and research, community development, and administration, have a critical role to play in improving the health outcomes of maternal and child populations.

Article

Mental Health: Adolescents  

Craig Winston LeCroy

Health care practitioners frequently ignore mental health problems in teens. Adolescents’ daily functioning may be hampered as they mature and are exposed to more dangerous settings. The common behavioral and mental health issues that teenagers face is critical to understanding how to best offer prevention and intervention services. Teenage mental health treatment often focuses on developing functional abilities and identifying models of care that can lessen dysfunctional symptomatology. The latest approaches to treating and preventing teenage mental health issues are presented. The mental health field has placed increased focus on implementing evidence-based treatments. In addition to treatment models, numerous additional elements must be taken into account while developing or implementing treatment.

Article

Mental Illness: Children  

Marlys Staudt

The primary focus of the entry is service utilization. As background, the risks for and prevalence of childhood mental disorders are summarized. Then, the current children's mental health services system is described, including the role of nonspecialty sectors of care and informal support systems. Service use barriers and disparities, pathways to services, and strategies to increase service use are discussed. The conclusion notes other current issues in child mental health, including the need to implement evidence-based treatments.

Article

Mindfulness-Based Therapy  

Edward R. Canda and Sherry Warren

This entry provides an introduction to mindfulness as a therapeutic practice applied within social work, including in mental health and health settings. It describes and critiques mindfulness-based practices regarding definitions, history, current practices, best practices research, and ethical issues related to using evidence-based practices, acquiring competence, addressing social justice, and respecting diversity.

Article

Oral History and Social Work  

Arlene Bowers Andrews

This article reviews basic skills for conducting and using oral histories, summarizes ethical issues, presents examples relevant to social work, and suggests useful resources. For social workers, oral history can be a way to record the history of social change as well as a means of promoting social change. Oral history can honor, inform, raise consciousness, and motivate action. Oral histories are particularly relevant for historically excluded populations and those with oral traditions. Generating the history requires a thorough awareness of the narrator, the story, and the role of the listener as well as skillful interviewing, use of digital technology, and appropriate archiving.

Article

Out-of-School Suspension of African American Youth and Progressive Education Alternatives  

Wendy Haight and Priscilla Gibson

Racial disproportionality in out-of-school suspensions (suspensions) is a persistent, multi-level social justice and child well-being issue affecting not only youth, families, and schools but society as a whole. It is a complex, multiple-level social problem that will require an equally complex response. The design of effective remedies will require adequate understanding of the problem as well as the historical and sociocultural contexts in which it emerged and is perpetuated. Progressive educators have offered a number of alternatives to harsh and exclusionary discipline, but research is needed to examine their effectiveness, especially in reducing racial disproportionalities.