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Article

Ageism and Retirement  

Lynn McDonald

Retirement is a modest social institution that appeared in most industrialized nations near the start of the 20th century. The aim of retirement was to solve the societal dilemma of an increasingly aged labor force by moving older workers systematically out of their jobs so as to not cause them financial harm (Atchley, 1980, p. 264). Although retirement has been considered benign since its inception, the history of retirement indicates that it is one of the main progenitors of ageism in society today (Atchley, 1982, 1993; Haber & Gratton, 1994; McDonald, 2013; Walker, 1990). Retirement and its accompanying stereotypes have been used as a tool for the management of the size and composition of the labor force contingent on the dictums of current markets in any given historical era. Ever-changing ideologies about older adults that extend from negative to positive ageism have been utilized by business, government, the public, and the media to support whatever justification is required in a particular era, with little thought to the harm perpetrated on older adults. Unfortunately, society has subscribed to these justifications en masse, including older adults themselves. In this article the ageism embedded in retirement is examined to make what is implicit explicit to social work practitioners and policymakers in the field of aging.

Article

Child Care Services  

Laura Lein

Child care services, enabling parents to commit themselves to paid employment while providing a supervised environment for their children, have a long and complex history in the United States. Child care services can provide children with educational and other advantages, as well as custodial care. In fact, the United States has multiple kinds of services providing child care and early childhood education. Publicly funded services have concentrated on care for impoverished children and those facing other risks or disadvantages, but many of these children and their families remain unserved because of gaps in programs and lack of support for subsidies, while other families purchase the services they need.

Article

Community Macro Practice Competencies  

Tracy M. Soska

Community macro practice is one of three spheres of macro social work practice along with human services management and policy practice. The historical context on macro practice and community practice since the Council on Social Work Education first adopted competency-based professional education through its Education Policies and Accreditation Standards in 2008 is important to appreciate how macro practice competencies have evolved. It is also salient to understand how the Association of Community Organization and Social Action (ACOSA) has been at the forefront of developing macro practice and, especially, community practice competencies, and it these efforts present the most current framework of community macro practice competencies entailed in ACOSA’s Community Practice Certificate partnership program with schools of social work.

Article

Contexts/Settings: Private/Independent Practice Settings  

Sandra A. Lopez

Private independent practice (known historically as private practice) is a growing segment of the social work profession. Social workers entering this context are providing a range of services, including clinical and nonclinical. Major considerations for establishing, maintaining, and marketing a successful and ethical private independent practice will be discussed. Existing tensions and challenges in the social work profession and in the field of social work education will be briefly examined. Future directions for private independent practice of social work will be explored.

Article

Disaster Preparedness for Organizations  

Becky S. Corbett

Social workers are well trained to respond to natural and human-caused disasters. They use their strength-based perspectives to assist individuals, families, organizations, and communities after a disaster. They are called on to assess the situation, provide counseling and support, and link affected individuals to resources. However, they may not think about preparing for disasters in their own organization or practice, including workplace safety. Social workers need to create organizational disaster preparedness plans that follow workplace safety guidelines and patient and client safety standards, address business continuity and self-care during and after a disaster, and are ethically responsible.

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

Evidence-Based Macro Practice  

Erick G. Guerrero, Tenie Khachikian, and Murali Nair

Evidence-based macro practices (EBMPs) rely on the best available evidence to promote system change. The field of social work needs to develop, implement, and disseminate EBMPs to respond to increasing public accountability to deliver cost-effective interventions that promote health and well-being among vulnerable populations. There are several evidence-based macro practices at the community and organizational levels that have potential to improve the effectiveness of social work practice. These EBMPs, their components, and the critical role they play in improving interventions and enacting change at a macro level are important. Building science in social work, informing practice in the 21st century, and effectively responding to system-wide challenges (e.g., epidemics, institutional racism, growing inequality) that disproportionally impact the health and well-being of the most vulnerable members of our society are important areas to explore.

Article

Foundations in Future Directions for Social Work Leadership  

Darlyne Bailey, Kimberly B. Bonner, Katrina M. Uhly, and Jessica S. Wilen

The concept of leadership has evolved from focusing on innate abilities, to learned skills, to understanding that leadership is composed of both skills and abilities. Recently, theorists and practitioners have identified elements of effective leadership within social work organizations. These areas of knowledge, skills, and values encourage social work leaders to recognize their organizations as living systems within an interdependent world and aid them in connecting humanistic intentions with effects. Both acknowledgment and enactment of these leadership competencies are essential for all organizational members to engage in effective dialogue and action. Social workers, regardless of their organizational titles, can learn and hone these qualities in social work training programs and continuing professional development opportunities, as well as through practical field experiences for effective leadership in the field.

Article

International Social Welfare: Organizations and Activities  

Doreen Elliott

The major international governmental and nongovernmental organizations and their activities are discussed with reference to their global co-coordinating, advocacy, service, and research functions. Attention is also given to the work of international professional associations.

Article

Leadership Development in Social Work and Military Settings  

Gary M. Bess, James J. Kelly, James B. Macdonald, and James J. Woolever

Theorists have struggled with a myriad of definitions of leadership, as well as trait, behavioral, and situational leadership models. They have identified leadership types from transformational and charismatic to motivational. There has been much speculation and some study of the traits and characteristics of effective leaders, as well as effective leadership styles, abilities, and practices. Social work theorists have contributed to this field by identifying the critical and unique characteristics of social work leadership, such as adherence to social work norms and orientation to the needs of disadvantaged groups. Today, social workers build on leadership theories and utilize emerging technologies for creating tomorrow’s leaders through practices, such as formal training, coaching, mentoring, and peer networking. There has always been—and will be—a critical need for leadership in health and human services fields, as well as other endeavors, such as military social work, where social work practices contribute to optimal benefit for individuals and institutions. Indeed, leadership development can be viewed from two perspectives: the individual and the organizational. From the individual perspective, while innate leadership skills may be present, it is also learned, and it begins with a critical assessment of the individual’s strengths and limitations, as well as resources for professional growth. From an organizational perspective, there are also numerous views on how things get done and the role of the leader as a changemaker. After an overview of leadership from a definitional and early models’ discussion, a transition to social work leadership takes place, comparing and contrasting its tenets with conventional leadership literature in the context of health and human services organizations, and the unique requirements and skills for social work leaders across a range of employment venues, including increasing numbers of social work-trained officers in the military. Observations are made concerning the future of social work practice.

Article

Licensing  

Mary C. Nienow, Emi Sogabe, and Amanda Duffy Randall

Social work regulation in the United States emerged during the early 1930s, and now every state in the country has some form of social work licensing. The primary purpose of such regulation is to protect the public from incompetent or unethical practitioners by ensuring a minimal level of competence. Each state determines the qualifications a social worker must possess and defines what constitutes social work practice. Regulatory boards are also established through state authority as a means of holding professionals accountable. Boards provide an accessible system for the public to file complaints of wrong-doing by social workers. Despite regulation in every state, very few states have established a separate category of regulation for social workers engaging in macro practice. Macro practice social work activities may be found in state statute, but do not comprise the common understanding of regulated social work practice. The impact of regulation on macro practice social workers is an area needing further exploration and attention within the field.

Article

Macro Social Work Practice  

F. Ellen Netting, M. Lori Thomas, and Jan Ivery

Macro social work practice includes those activities performed in organizational, community, and policy arenas. Macro practice has a diverse history that reveals conflicting ideologies and draws from interdisciplinary perspectives within the United States and around the world. Much has been written about how to balance macro and micro roles and how social work education can inform this balance. Organization and community theories, as well as theories of power, politics, and change inform macro practice. Macro practice models and methods include organization and community practice; community organizing, development, and planning; and policy practice, all of which underscore the social work profession’s emphasis on using a person-in-environment perspective. Underlying issues and future opportunities for macro practitioners include, but are not limited to, addressing equity, inclusion, and human rights; leading sustainability and environmental justice efforts; recognizing the importance of data, evidence, and accountability; and keeping up-to-date on technology and innovation.

Article

Mentoring and Coaching  

Fariyal Ross-Sheriff and Julie Orme

This article provides a synopsis of mentoring and coaching, with a focus on the importance of mentoring in academia. Although there are considerable differences between mentoring and coaching, both of these processes share similar goals and foundational elements. Over time, the traditional concept of mentoring has evolved to become more relational in nature. Scholars have noted the benefits of this contemporary type of relational mentoring, as well as the challenges of mentoring with select populations (i.e., women and people of color) who have historically experienced barriers to receiving appropriate mentorship. Theoretical frameworks and practice recommendations are presented for understanding and developing mentoring relationships. By using a relational and holistic approach to mentoring, social work educators and practitioners can help to advance the next generation of leadership within the profession.

Article

Neoliberalism  

Jessica Toft

Neoliberalism is an international, transdisciplinary, and interdisciplinary concept with political, economic, and social dimensions. Neoliberalism is a governing rationality based on market logic that protects free markets by reducing business regulations, restricting citizen and resident welfare state protections, and increasing welfare state discipline. This entails three dimensions: First, neoliberalism consists of economic governing principles to benefit free markets both globally and domestically to the advantage of corporations and economic elites. Second, this includes concurrent state governing principles to limit welfare state protections and impose disciplinary governance so service users will be individually responsible and take up precarious work. A third component is neoliberal governmentality—the ways neoliberalism shapes society’s members through the state to govern themselves as compliant market actors. Neoliberalism is at its core a political reasoning, organizing society around principles of market rationality, from governance structure to social institutions to individual behavior in which individuals should behave as responsible and accountable market actors. Among its central tenets are that individuals should behave as independent responsible market actors; the social welfare state should be downsized and delegated to lower levels of government; and public welfare should be privatized, marketized, and commodified. While neoliberal policy design sets public provision parameters, its signature tool is to govern through state public administration. New public managerialism is a common example, as is managerialism more generally; they both borrow business management principles and apply them to the management of all aspects of social services. Because of its prescriptive nature, there is concern that neoliberalism dictates practice, threatening professional authority of social workers and challenging the implicit trust the public puts in professions. Writ large, there are concerns about democracy itself as neoliberalism works against the will of the people and collective responses to social problems. Resistance to neoliberalism is growing and early examples are provided.

Article

Organizational Change  

Thomas Packard

Human service organizations (HSOs) continue to face significant challenges to improve performance and the quality of working life for employees. Planned organizational change can help HSOs meet these challenges through the use of evidence-based tactics and methods ranging from team building and organizational redesign to implementation science. While organizational change is a dynamic rather than a liner process, a phase model can provide valuable structure. Organizational leaders or other potential change agents typically begin by identifying a change need or opportunity and creating a change goal that describes a desired future state. Initial assessments of the problem should include assessment of the organization’s and its leaders’ readiness and capacity for change. Implementation tactics include creating a sense of urgency and communicating the change vision and plan for implementation. Developing and maintaining support for the process are ongoing. An action system for implementing the change initiative should include representatives from throughout the organization. Provisions should be made for team building and conflict resolution. Widespread staff participation in activities including problem solving groups enhances staff commitment and improves the quality of the change results through the expertise that employees bring to the process. Action planning and monitoring systems can track progress and identify emerging concerns to address. Progress on the change process should be regularly and fully communicated to all employees. Agreed upon changes should be institutionalized through new policies and procedures, staff training, and organizational culture changes. All changes made should be evaluated to assess success and identify future change opportunities.

Article

Organizational Wellness  

Erlene Grise-Owens, J. Jay Miller, and Larry W. Owens

The profession of social work increasingly experiences the damaging impact of professional burnout, staff turnover, and compromised services. Organizational wellness involves planful efforts to address these concerns and promote employee well-being. A rationale for organizational wellness is articulated, including its value for social work. The evolving paradigm of a holistic, systemic approach to organizational wellness is then discussed. Next, how social work is ideally situated to lead organizational wellness efforts is detailed as an arena of macro practice and as providing a framework for designing and developing an organizational wellness culture. Using social work competencies, social workers can use this framework to provide leadership in conceptualizing, planning, implementing, evaluating, and sustaining organizational wellness. Further critical considerations underscore how this leadership promotes the profession’s mission, supports the profession’s viability, and establishes a vital arena for ongoing macro practice.

Article

Philanthropic Funding for Human Services  

Kirsten A. Grønbjerg

Of the 1.75 million tax-exempt organizations registered with the Internal Revenue Service in April 2020, about one-third are human service nonprofits, including about 267,000 charities with about $371 billion in total combined revenues. In 2019, human service public charities (excluding private foundations) received an estimated $56 billion in charitable contributions. This represents 12% of all charitable contributions, and is about 21% of the combined revenues reported by the almost 270,000 registered human service public charities reporting financial information. While government funding is a major driving force for human service charities, philanthropic funding clearly is important as well. Securing such funding requires solid understanding of the fundraising process and dedicated time and effort. However, competition for donations (and fundraising expertise) appears to be growing across the board, with donations from individuals, United Way, and corporate contributions most at risk for human service charities. These trends in philanthropic funding reflect growing income inequality, which also impacts the scope and types of human services needed and is complicated even further by persistent racial disparities.

Article

Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Macro Social Work  

Monica Nandan and Gokul Mandayam

Social workers possess skills, values, and perspectives that enable them to practice as social innovators, intrapreneurs, and entrepreneurs. Given the complex, dynamic, and challenging contexts for social work practice, these strategies have become essential for social workers to continue creating social value and social good. The article Herein are described strategies, rationale for social workers to practice in a socially innovative, intrapreneurial, or entrepreneurial fashion; parallels between these strategies and social work practice; and a case is built for the social work curriculum to include content related to these strategies.

Article

Social Services  

Philip R. Popple

Formal or institutional social services began in the United States in the late 19th century as a response to problems that were rapidly increasing as a result of modernization. These services were almost entirely private until the Great Depression in the 1930s when the government became involved via provisions of the Social Security Act. Services expanded greatly, beginning in the 1960s when the federal government developed a system wherein services were supported by public funds but provided through contracts with private agencies. This trend has continued and expanded, resulting in a uniquely American system wherein private agencies serve as vehicles for government social service policy.

Article

Social Work Professional Organizations and Associations  

Halaevalu F. O. Vakalahi, Michael M. Sinclair, Bradford W. Sheafor, and Puafisi Tupola

Professions are developed and maintained through various professional organizations and associations. As social work has evolved in terms of context and content, the professional membership and professional education organizations have periodically unified, separated, and later reunified in the attempt to maintain an identity as a single profession, yet respond to the needs and interests of different practice specialties, educational levels, special interest groups within social work, and diverse cultures and communities. There are approximately 40 known social work organizations and associations across the country, which recognizes the continuous important contributions of emerging groups and entities that represent the diversity that exists in the profession and the diverse critical issues that warrant a timely response. Some of these organizations and associations experience sustained growth and national presence, while others remain on the local level or are no longer active. A few examples of these major social work organizations and associations are described herein.