Although rates of adolescent pregnancy have exhibited a downward trend since 1991, the United States continues to have a significantly higher rate than other industrialized nations. Adolescent pregnancy, especially in early and middle adolescence, has long-term developmental and economic impact on the teen and her child, in addition to high social costs. This entry describes the current trends in adolescent pregnancy in the United States, and examines factors reported in the research literature as associated with adolescent pregnancy, discusses federal policy directed toward adolescent pregnancy prevention, and identifies various intervention programs.
Kathleen A. Rounds and Traci L. Wike
Richard P. Barth
Adoption of children from foster care and international adoptions have accelerated since 1987. Federal policy changes have markedly increased the termination of parental rights and adoption of children in foster care. Adoption by relatives and single parents has also grown markedly. Open adoption is increasingly normative. Adoption outcomes are generally positive although there is substantial call for post-adoption support for children adopted from foster care. These services are emerging but their efficacy is still untested. More work is needed on post-adoption services because there are now more former foster children in post-adoption status than there are children in foster care.
Karen Smith Rotabi
The practice of intercountry adoption is first considered from a historical framework, beginning with World War II, to other conflicts throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. In this historical overview, factors that contributed to the rise of the global circulation of children for adoption in the 20th century are discussed, as well as efforts for reform in the 21st century in response to problems of abuse, fraud, and exploitation and the development of policies to regulate intercountry adoption and ultimately protect children. Specifically, The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption is presented from a social justice perspective, using Guatemala as a case example, as well as relevant U.S. policies regulating intercountry adoption practices. Finally, direct practice considerations for social workers are discussed. These include pre- and post-adoption issues to support families and children through the intercountry adoption process and across the child’s lifespan with considerations for trans-racial adoptions and the unique child-family support issues. In conclusion, the significant decline in the practice is reflected upon pragmatically; the need for true reform in the practice is necessary to preserve intercountry adoption for orphaned and vulnerable children.
Adoption: Transracial and Intercountry
Rowena Fong, Ruth G. McRoy, Amy Griffin, and Catherine LaBrenz
A history of transracial and intercountry adoptions in the United States is briefly provided as well as highlights trends, demographics, practices, and policies that have evolved as families have become more diverse. The current prevalence of intercountry and transracial adoptions in the United States is examined as well as the impact of policy changes in the United States and abroad on rates of intercountry adoption. Additionally, the challenges that have emerged for children adopted transracially and from abroad, as well as for their adoptive families, are reviewed. These include navigating ethnic and racial identity formation, cultural sensitivity, and challenging behaviors. Finally, future directions for social work practice, research, and policy are explored, and implications are provided for social workers intervening with families who have adopted children transracially or internationally. Specifically, adoption-competent professionals should also integrate cultural humility and competence into their therapeutic work with adoptive children and families. Implications for research in the conclusion focus on expanding prior studies on intercountry and transracial adoptions to incorporate racial and ethnic groups underrepresented in the literature. Policy implications include increasing access and funding for post-adoption services for all adoptive families.
Adoption: Lesbian and Gay Adoptive Parents
Abbie E. Goldberg and April Moyer
Adoption by lesbian and gay parents is becomingly increasingly common. This entry presents an overview of the limited research that has focused on lesbian and gay adoptive parents. Specifically, this entry addresses the experience of adoptive parenthood for lesbian and gay parents, with emphasis on the decision-making process (that is, choosing adoption, choosing an agency, choosing an adoption type, and specifying child characteristics), the transition to adoptive parenthood, the psychological adjustment of the adoptive parents and their children, and the adoptive parent–child relationship. We end with recommendations for future research and implications for practitioners and policymakers.
Adult Protective Services
Patricia Brownell and Joanne Marlatt Otto
Adult Protective Services (APS) are empowered by states and local communities to respond to reports and cases of vulnerable adult abuse, neglect, and self-neglect. While incorporating legal, medical, and mental health services, APS programs are part of the social services delivery system and incorporate principles and practices of the social work profession.
Child Abuse and Neglect
Susan J. Wells and Geoff Johnson
The true extent of child abuse and neglect is unknown but reports to state agencies indicate over 3 million reports concerning maltreatment of over 6 million children are made each year. Confirmed reports involved over 679,000 children in 2013. Yet, only 32% of the children known to be harmed by maltreatment in the community are investigated by child protective services. The perplexing dilemma in surveillance and service delivery is how to identify those who need help without spuriously including those who do not. This entry focuses on the definition of maltreatment and provides an overview of the history, etiology, and consequences of child abuse and neglect as well as the current trends and dilemmas in the field. To afford some perspective for the reader, some international data and information are provided.
Child Care Services
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.
Delanie P. Pope and Joseph Kozakiewicz
Child support is the legal mechanism requiring parents to share in the economic support of their children. Under the law, parents are obligated to support their children regardless of whether they reside with them. Support calculations for noncustodial parents are based on many different factors, which vary from state to state. Enforcement is the single biggest challenge in the area of child support. The federal government continues to pass laws enhancing states' enforcement capabilities. Recipients of child support differ by race and ethnic group. Child support obligations are distinct from alimony and are usually independent of parenting time.
Collaborative and Strengths-Based Intervening with Students from Single-Parent Families
Mo Yee Lee, Cathy Grover Ely, Ray Eads, and Xiafei Wang
Single-parent families have emerged as a common family structure, with one in four U.S. children living in single-parent households. Research on single parents has traditionally adopted a deficit-based perspective, and the challenges and barriers faced by single-parent families are well documented. In particular, students from single-parent families often struggle in school settings, with increased rates of behavior problems, lower academic achievement, and less parental engagement in the child’s education. Despite these challenges, an emerging body of literature supports focusing on resilience and strengths, rather than deficits and problems, when working with children and families. Adopting a strengths-based perspective also facilitates collaborative alliances among single parents and various service systems and helping professionals, including social workers and school personnel. This article provides an overview of single-parent families, outlines strengths-based and collaborative interventions for working with children and families, and then presents pragmatic guidelines and a case illustration to demonstrate the practical application of such interventions.
Susan C. Harnden
This entry discusses the evolution of the field of couples counseling from an auxiliary service provided through a variety of professional disciplines to a well-established field defined by its own standards, approaches, and a building body of research. While a few interventions for couples have been well researched using well-established standards, many of the interventions used by practitioners still lack evidence-based research or standard criteria. Also the research does little to address diversity and the application of interventions considering race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic levels. These concerns require ongoing attention.
Karen Kayser and Jessica K. M. Johnson
This entry presents the demographic trends of divorce and the social changes that have impacted the divorce rate. A cultural perspective of divorce is provided by analyzing divorce in the context of race and gender and across nations. Current explanatory theories of divorce are described. Research on the consequences of divorce on adults and children is presented followed by the practice implications for social workers. Future directions for policy and research are discussed.
Domestic Violence in the LGBT Community
Betty Jo Barrett
Since the mid 1980s, a growing body of theoretical and empirical literature has examined the existence of intimate partner violence (IPV) in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities. Collectively, this research has suggested that IPV in rainbow communities occurs at rates comparable to those documented among heterosexual populations and results in similar detrimental psychological, social, and physical consequences for victims. Importantly, however, this work has also highlighted myriad ways in which the social and structural marginalization of gender and sexual minority populations create unique vulnerabilities for IPV that are not shared by cissexual and heterosexual individuals. This entry provides an overview of this scholarship to inform strength-based social work practice with and for LGBT survivors of domestic violence at the macro, mezzo, and micro levels.
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.
Economic Security and Family Well-Being
Robert Cosby and Janice Berry-Edwards
Economic security and family well-being remain important issues for communities and for social workers, particularly during economic downturns. Workers in industries such as restaurants, hotels, healthcare, and communications were dramatically affected by the spread of the COVID-19 virus in 2020 and 2021 in the United States. Companies have struggled, many closing during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of those with significant economic capital and potential for growth during this time experienced huge growth opportunities in wealth, but not all. At the same time there were significant racial disparities associated with COVID-19, including disparate access to medical services. Social workers can benefit from understanding the complex issues associated with economic insecurity. The impact of economic insecurity among individuals, families, and communities can ravage their physical, emotional, and mental well-being, and understanding how macro, mezzo, and micro dynamics affect individual and family quality of life is paramount for social workers.
Ellen L. Csikai
As medical technology advances producing the ability to prolong life almost indefinitely, individuals and families are asked to make increasingly complex choices about what treatments best correspond to their conceptions of how they wish to die. These decisions create a need for attention to medical aspects as well as psychosocial consequences. Social workers play pivotal roles in ensuring access to needed information and resources and in safeguarding individuals' rights to self-determination in end-of-life decisions. This entry discusses issues related to advance care planning, the process of end-of-life decision making, and social work roles with individuals, families, and health care providers.
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.
Family: Practice Interventions
Mikal N. Rasheed and Janice Matthews Rasheed
This entry traces the historical, conceptual, and theoretical development of social work practice with families, beginning with the Charity Organization Society and the Settlement House movement. From the 1920s through the 1950s, social work practice was heavily influenced by psychoanalytic theory. However, emerging theoretical frameworks, including systems and ecological theory from the 1960s and the 1970s, shifted the focus of intervention back to the family. The 1970s saw the development of a proliferation of models for family therapy. The emergence of postmodern, constructivist, narrative and feminist thought has had a more recent influence on social work practice with families. Although these theories and models of family therapy have profoundly influenced direct practice with families, there is a renewed interest in what is described as family-centered social work practice. The theoretical foundation of family-centered practice emphasizes a strengths perspective and an empowerment model of social work practice. This approach represents a broad range of interventions that build linkages between the family and key environmental support systems of diverse, multi-stressed, and at-risk families. During the 2000s, attention has shifted to evidence-based practice (EBP). The focus on EBP has been to provide a source of information for clinicians and families to consider when selecting an appropriate intervention for the presenting problem.
Sandra Owens and Letha A. Chadiha
There is evidence that family caregiving in the United States has been increasing at an unprecedented rate as a result of various societal issues. This entry provides a summary of the scholarly literature regarding elder-caregiving trends, demographics, legislation, challenges, and racial and socioeconomic impacts, as well as the rewards of caregiving. Additionally, the entry provides empirical findings regarding evidence-based interventions associated with family caregiving of older adults.
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.