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Article

Patricia Brownell

Older workers make important contributions to the workplace, its productivity, and its culture. Work remains important for older adults for financial security, to give meaning to later life, to maintain social networks, and to promote lifelong learning. However, ageist beliefs about the capacity of older adults to remain productive and contributing workers in the workforce can create barriers for older workers. Understanding how older workers experience ageist behavior in the workplace can help employers, policy makers, and social workers learn more about how to address this social problem. Organizations can become more age friendly through enabling workplace programs, supportive management, and proactive human resource managers. Social workers serving older adults in employee assistance programs and in private practice can help them to challenge ageism in the workplace. Finally, legislation such as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act protects the rights of older workers; however, more legislation is needed to address bullying and harassment of older adults in the workplace.

Article

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

Irwin Epstein and Stephen A. Kapp

This entry reviews agency-based research and the unique demands created by the organizational context where this activity resides. Three primary stakeholder groups are identified: administrators and program managers, supervisors, and direct service workers and clinicians. Possible uses of agency-based research by each of the respective stakeholder groups are described. Finally, the role of service consumers in agency-based research is discussed.

Article

Eric R. Kingson, Dana Bell, and Sarah Shive

This entry examines why our nation’s Social Security system was built, what it does, and what must be done to maintain and improve this foundational system for current and future generations. After a discussion of the social insurance approach to economic security and its underlying principles and values, the evolution of America’s Social Security system is reviewed—beginning with the enactment of the Social Security Act of 1935, through its incremental development, to the changed politics of Social Security since the mid-1990s. Next, program benefits and financing are described and contemporary challenges and related policy options are identified, in terms of both the program’s projected shortfall and the public’s need for expanded retirement, disability, and survivorship protections. The entry concludes by noting that social workers have an important role to play in shaping Social Security’s future.

Article

Edward J. Mullen, Jennifer L. Bellamy, and Sarah E. Bledsoe

This entry describes best practices as these are used in social work. The term best practices originated in the organizational management literature in the context of performance measurement and quality improvement where best practices are defined as the preferred technique or approach for achieving a valued outcome. Identification of best practices requires measurement, benchmarking, and identification of processes that result in better outcomes. The identification of best practices requires that organizations put in place quality data collection systems, quality improvement processes, and methods for analyzing and benchmarking pooled provider data. Through this process, organizational learning and organizational performance can be improved.

Article

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 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

Anne Williford and Marie Villescas Zamzow

This article offers an introduction to macro social work practice interventions. Specifically, it seeks to: (a) identify the difference between direct service (micro) and macro practice; (b) describe historical and contemporary foundations for macro practice; (c) establish a connection between macro practice and core social work values; (d) describe specific examples of macro social work practice using 21st-century social justice issues as exemplars; and (e) identify roles needed for macro social work practice. This article emphasizes the need for macro social work practice to create much needed change in the areas of social, environmental, and economic justice. It will examine the trend in social work that has increasingly placed emphasis and value on micro practice, which has marginalized macro-level social work as a result. Society continues to confront seemingly intractable social justice issues and is, in the early 21st century, experiencing a critical reckoning of how systems of oppression continue to exact violence against vulnerable populations. This article uses examples of social, environmental, and economic justice issues with specific recommendations on how to adopt an anti-oppressive macro practice framework.

Article

John Halloran and Fred Wulczyn

Extending social work’s familiarity with the metaphorical use of systems concepts, formal systems science enables macro social workers pathways of understanding and description of system-level behavior. Systems, in a formal sense, are coherently organized and interconnected sets of parts that, when operating together, perform a function. The behaviors of complex systems are not reducible to the behavior of individual components, and behaviors of systems are unique to the system as a whole. We introduce a formal approach to systems thinking, provide an overview of central concepts in complex systems analysis, and conclude with an in-depth example of an agent-based simulation model, which puts complex systems thinking into action in a research and practice context.

Article

Nonprofit organizations serve a wide variety of functions and play a particularly important role in providing needed social services in the United States. This entry begins by exploring the roles and origins of the nonprofit sector, reporting on its current scope and scale, and reviewing federal regulations governing nonprofit organizations. Special attention is then given to understanding human service organizations and their financing, including the implications of changing government-nonprofit relationships. Four additional issues facing the sector—accountability, technology, political participation, and diversity, as well as recommendations for meeting future challenges, are also discussed.

Article

As environmental and organizational influences drive coalitions, shared service agreements, mergers, and other interorganizational alliances among health and human service organizations, social workers are frequently vital contributors. Interorganizational work is contextualized by reviewing its theoretical underpinnings, describing historical development, and discussing issues of language and definition. The wide range of relationships and corresponding structural options being implemented are explored. Sector-wide trends and their implications for interorganizational work are considered along with key factors for success and the growing role evaluation plays in promoting positive impact.

Article

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

Hillel Schmid and Yeheskel “Zeke” Hasenfeld

Contracting out of social services is defined as the purchase of services by government agencies from for-profit and nonprofit organizations. It has a long history beginning with the English Poor Law of 1723 and becoming a major policy during Reagan's administration. Both the advantages and shortcomings of contracting out are described and analyzed. The effects on providers' accountability to government and clients and the implications for social work practice and ethics are discussed. Special emphasis is given to the social workers' dilemma facing a dual loyalty to contractor–employer on the one hand and to clients on the other.

Article

David Stoesz and Catherine Born

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.

Article

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

Implementation research seeks to inform how to deliver evidence-based interventions, programs, and policies in real-world settings so their benefits can be realized and sustained. The ultimate aim of implementation research is building a base of evidence about the most effective processes and strategies for improving service delivery. Implementation research builds upon effectiveness research and then seeks to discover how to use specific implementation strategies and move those interventions into specific settings, extending their availability, reach, and benefits to clients and communities. This entry provides an overview of implementation research as a component of research translation and defines key terms, including implementation outcomes and implementation strategies, as well as an overview of guiding theories and models and methodological issues including variable measurement, research design, and stakeholder engagement.

Article

Sheila H. Akabas

Employee assistance programs (EAPs), or membership assistance programs when sponsored by unions, are designed to improve worker productivity and motivation by responding to problems that workers experience which interfere with job performance and satisfaction. Now a ubiquitous characteristic of American workplaces, the programs are largely staffed by social workers. This entry discusses their historic development, extent, scope, structure, how they are perceived and utilized by different racial and gender populations, and the dilemmas and challenges facing EAPs as they try to define their role, function, and best practices amid emerging trends in the world of work.

Article

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

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

Roger A. Lohmann

The management of finances in human service organizations has undergone a quiet revolution in the past three decades. This has included a complete and coordinated theory and practice of accounting, a still-incomplete theory and evolving set of practices in budgeting, and the accumulation of an expanding set of analytical tools and methods that reach well beyond what most human service organizations currently use. The new financial management paradigm is a model of the human service enterprise that is sufficiently robust and dynamic to encompass financial management practices in public, nonprofit, and private enterprises and to provide a platform for confronting privilege and challenging oppression.