For-profit health and human service corporations afford a range of employment opportunities for professional social workers, although organizational structures may not resemble those of nonprofit and government agencies, and these settings may present new professional challenges. Corporations have become prominent, in some cases dominant, providers in fields as disparate as hospital management and nursing home care, child and adult daycare, residential treatment, managed health care, welfare eligibility and job placement, child support, and corrections. For-profit expansion across the array of health and human services continues, which bodes well for social workers willing to consider corporations as a practice setting. Opponents of commercial human services worry that adverse client selection criteria may screen out the most troubled individuals and about possible corner-cutting in service delivery to meet fiscal targets. The general concern is that, in these firms, profit may trump program. Others strongly believe that the profit motive is simply incompatible with the human service mission. Proponents claim that benefits include management and cost efficiencies, nimbleness, ease and speed of innovation, and technological prowess. The emergence of new commercial entities such as benefit corporations that commit to creating social benefit, not just profit, are also touted. Arguments aside, the neoliberal social policy vector that emerged in the later decades of the 20th century encourages the outsourcing of public services. Thus, privatization in the form of corporate human services may continue to expand and almost certainly will continue to exert influence in health and human services policy, programming, and service delivery for the foreseeable future.
David Stoesz and Catherine Born
Larry M. Gant and Lorraine Gutiérrez
Social planning emphasizes the application of rational problem-solving techniques and data-driven approaches to identify, determine, and help coordinate services for target populations. Social planning is carried out by a myriad of organizations—from federal agencies to community organizations—attempting to solve problems ranging from child welfare to aging.