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Article

Stephen H. Gorin, Julie S. Darnell, and Heidi L. Allen

This entry describes the development and key provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), which instituted a major overhaul of the U.S. health system, much of which took effect in 2014. The key provisions of the ACA included an individual mandate to purchase insurance, an employer mandate to offer coverage to most workers, an expansion of Medicaid to all persons below 138 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL), minimum benefit standards, elimination of preexisting condition exclusions, and reforms to improve health-care quality and lower costs. This historic legislation has deep roots in U.S. history and represents the culmination of a century-long effort to expand health care and mental health coverage to all citizens.

Article

This entry explores key definitions, causes, and characteristics of slums in the global arena, along with the types of social work practice and general community development approaches being used to catalyze action to decrease the prevalence of slums. Core strategies include using planning efforts that prioritize input from people who live in slums, creating affordable housing, and otherwise transitioning urban slums into vibrant communities. Concluding thoughts and further considerations for social work practice are offered.

Article

Colita Nichols Fairfax

Afrocentric social work is a concept and praxis approach applicable in environmental and global settings where people of African descent are located. Using concept analysis as a methodology, this article explores Afrocentric social work theory and its applicability in the social sciences. Concept analysis is an examination of a thought or theory with the intent to create a more concise operational definition. Afrocentric social work not only is applicable to racial and social justice issues, it also is applicable to intellectual and philosophical discourses of social work, which has largely ignored Afrocentric social work as a viable theory and philosophical canon. The Walker and Avant method of concept analysis is employed in this article to provide a systemic discourse to define the attributes of Afrocentric social work, as well as its structural elements that scholars and practitioners utilize as a theory and praxis application.

Article

Michael Sherraden, Lissa Johnson, Margaret M. Clancy, Sondra G. Beverly, Margaret Sherrard Sherraden, Mark Schreiner, William Elliott, Trina R. Williams Shanks, Deborah Adams, Jami Curley, Jin Huang, Michal Grinstein-Weiss, Yunju Nam, Min Zhan, and Chang-Keun Han

Since 1991, a new policy discussion has arisen in the United States and other countries, focusing on building assets as a complement to traditional social policy based on income. In fact, asset-based policy with large public subsidies already existed (and still exists) in the United States. But the policy is regressive, benefiting the rich far more than the poor. The goal should be a universal, progressive, and lifelong asset-based policy. One promising pathway may be child development accounts (CDAs) beginning at birth, with greater public deposits for the poorest children. If all children had an account, then eventually this could grow into a universal public policy across the life course.

Article

M. Jenise Comer and Joyce A. Bell

The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to the regulation of social work practice. The Association was created to protect clients and client systems from harm caused by incompetent, unethical, or unlicensed social work practice. The primary and most important responsibility of ASWB is to develop and maintain a national exam that is valid, reliable, and legally defensible. The Association contracts with a test vendor to administer the exam in an identical, secure environment to social work candidates for licensure in the United States, Canada, the U.S. Virgin Island, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the District of Columbia. Accomplishing the task of providing a reliable and valid exam involves a complex process of recruiting and training. The volunteers and staff are competent to complete the arduous task of constructing and reviewing different forms of the exam for each level of licensure. The test vendor and a consulting psychometrician provide supervision and analysis of test data to confirm the test performs at or above industry standards for a high stakes exam, which determines entry to practice based on a passing score. ASWB staff members also engage in several activities that support state and provincial boards to advance regulation and safe practice. The purpose, mission, and history of ASWB will be presented in detail, along with focused attention on the exam and additional services provided to the regulatory community. Future issues will identify the Board of Director’s 2019 Strategic plan. Opportunities, challenges, and threats to professional regulation include attention to international social work practice regulation, license mobility, and deregulation.

Article

This article presents introductory information on asylum seekers, refugees, and immigrants in the United States, including distinctions among them, major regions of origin, demographic, and socioeconomic characteristics, challenges in social, economic, and cultural adaptation, and best practices for social work with these populations.

Article

Black people number about 46.8 million or 14% of the U.S. population. Throughout U.S. history, regardless of social class, Black people have had to remain cognizant of their race. The COVID-19 pandemic and police shootings of unarmed Black people have revealed that American racism toward Blacks is as virulent today as it has always been. Because of purposeful structural inequality, Black people in America suffer disproportionately in every sector of human activity. They are still facing social issues such as racism, substance abuse, mass incarceration, poverty, police brutality and police murder, infant mortality that is twice as high as among whites, residential segregation, racial profiling, and discrimination. And yet the strengths of the Black community have allowed it to thrive amid these arduous circumstances.

Article

Karen A. Johnson, Sherron Wilkes, and Tania Alameda-Lawson

A half-century since its emergence, capacity development and building (CDB) remains an important strategy in countering societal and structural inequities. Yet, despite its importance, 20 years into the 21st century, these schisms have sorely deepened. Macro levels of divide are juxtaposed against a backdrop of meaningful CDB efforts and gains, nationally and internationally. The social work profession and social work educators should critically examine the ways in which CDB has been enacted to date. CDB efforts have directly and indirectly created transformational and sustainable improvements at individual, organizational, community, and societal levels of practice. CDB strategies may further deepen their impact on unjust systems, community, and societal change and have implications for social work education, practice, and research.

Article

Marcus Lam and Helmut K. Anheier

Foundations are private institutions for public benefit. With a long history that reaches back to antiquity, inside the United States and globally, foundations are a growing organizational form that policy makers increasingly view with both potential (as a source of private funds to complement government services) and caution (given their autonomy and low level of accountability). Alongside the rise in commerce and finance, foundations experienced an initial growth period in the late Middle Ages and a second in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, following the Industrial Revolution. Political stability, an increase in demand for social, educational, and cultural services of all kinds, and economic prosperity are certainly significant factors behind this growth. Since the dawn of the 21st century, foundations have remained the primary legal structure through which newly minted and emerging wealthy individuals practice their philanthropy. The foundation form, or some similar iteration, is growing not just in many Western democratic countries but even in communist and other political regimes such as China and Russia. The reason for this growth is the way in which foundations have been envisioned as instruments of welfare state reform in the broadest sense. This growth implies a more important role for foundations as providers of relief to those most in need, protectors of traditional institutions and the status quo, and, to a lesser extent, as change agents. In particular, this is apparent among the “new philanthropists” of the 21st century, drawn from technology entrepreneurs, who are more actively engaged in public policy.

Article

Usha Nayar, Priya Nayar, and Nidhi Mishra

The paper presents a global scenario of child labor by placing the issue in a historical context as well as comparing current work in the field. It specifically explains the psychosocial, political, and economic determinants of child labor and the prevalence of different forms as well as its magnitude in the different regions of the world. It features innovative programs and actions taken against child labor by local governments, civil societies, and United Nations bodies—mainly the International Labor Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund. The paper also highlights multilateral collaborations among the UN and other international agencies that stand against child labor in general and the employment of children in hazardous conditions. It illustrates the cooperation among local governments, civic organizations, and child-rights movements that have brought gradual changes over the decades toward ending child labor. Further, it suggests that social work, relevant professional schools, and associations working in various disciplines should be engaged in research-based advocacy and find innovative solutions to control child labor.

Article

Donna Hardina

Citizen participation is a process through which people served by government and nonprofit organizations can provide input about how these services are offered. Citizen participation is particularly beneficial in low-income neighborhoods. Local control of neighborhood decision making helps low-income people and communities of color counter the effects of economic and social oppression. Social workers can work with communities to increase their power and influence in public decision-making. They can also facilitate the development of leadership and political skills among agency clientele by creating organizational structures that encourage their participation in agency decision-making.

Article

Jennifer C. Greenfield, Heather Arnold-Renicker, and Amanda Moore McBride

Civic engagement is the backbone of the social work profession. Through our civic mission, we have long organized and empowered citizens in common pursuits to address social, economic, and political conditions, although this mission may conflict with social workers’ roles in maintaining and implementing systems of oppression and social control. In the United States, social and political engagement are receiving increased attention, particularly as emerging research demonstrates a range of effects for participants, their communities, and the broader society. The challenge for social work is to increase the capacity of communities and the nonprofit sector to promote and maximize engagement, especially among historically oppressed and disenfranchised individuals, through theory-driven, evidence-based interventions, while also ensuring that these efforts center the goals, expertise, and voices of those who are marginalized and minoritized.

Article

Jocelyn Clare R. Hermoso and Carmen Luca Sugawara

The connection between macro social work practice and civil society is inextricable. Macro practice focuses on forming and strengthening people’s organizations, communities, and other collectivities that make up the structure and foundation of civil society, defined as the sphere outside of the state and market where people can exercise their right to participate in decision-making on political, social, and other matters that affect their lives. Working with civil society can compensate for some of the limitations of working within state institutions. Civil society’s potential and ability to serve as an arena for realizing individual and community well-being, human rights, and social justice warrant positioning it on equal footing as the state as an area of practice for the social work profession.

Article

Jessica Greenawalt, Jan Ivery, Terry Mizrahi, and Beth B. Rosenthal

Coalitions are mechanisms to bring organizations and individuals together for collective efforts ranging from short-term crisis responses to longer-term problem-solving for social change. Coalitions create a specific type of collaboration that is dynamic and responsive to current events in the social, political, economic, and physical environments. In addition to addressing diverse issues, coalitions can be structured to position those most impacted by the issues to have greater influence in addressing them. This article frames an understanding of coalitions within the context of equity and power and suggests aligned language and approaches. Coalition-specific challenges and opportunities are presented to illustrate how coalition building is both a process and an outcome for developing equitable and inclusive practices in macro social work.

Article

Hal A. Lawson and Catherine S. Kramer

Social workers are prepared to benefit from and provide cross-boundary leadership for several kinds of collaborative, macro practice, all of which are structured to achieve a collective impact. Examples include teamwork, interorganizational partnerships, and community-wide coalitions. All are needed to respond to complicated practice problems, particularly ones characterized by co-occurring and interlocking needs. A family of “c-words” (e.g., consultation, coordination) is employed in many macro-level initiatives. Collaboration is the most difficult to develop, institutionalize, and sustain because it requires explicit recognition of, and new provisions for, interdependent relationships among participants. Notwithstanding the attendant challenges, collaborative practice increasingly is a requirement in multiple sectors of social work practice, including mental health, substance abuse, school social work, complex, anti-poverty initiatives, international social work, and workforce development. Beyond interprofessional collaboration, new working relationships with service users connect collaborative practice with empowerment theory and are a distinctive feature of social work practice.

Article

Calvin L. Streeter

One of the hallmarks of social work is its recognition that people grow and mature in a social context. Communities are one of the many social systems that touch people's lives and shape their individual and group identity. A conceptual overview of community is presented. Social systems, ecological systems, and power/conflict are presented as alternative frameworks for understanding how the social interaction between individuals, groups, and social institutions are patterned within the community. Virtual community is reviewed as a recent phenomenon that may have implications for community in modern society.

Article

As individuals age, their physical community continues to be a primary entry point of intervention because of their attachment to place, social connections, and limited mobility to travel as far and as often as they would like or desire. The environment provides a context for understanding an older adult’s social interactions and the availability of and access to supportive services that reduce isolation and increased risk for reduced health status. When individuals age in place, social workers need to understand how community-based services can work with older adults in their community where they have lived for some time and have developed social networks. This knowledge will better assist social workers in their ability to effectively connect clients with appropriate resources. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for an older adult’s environment to not reflect or adapt to their changing health status and physical mobility. Healthy aging (also referred to as age-friendly) and NORC (naturally occurring retirement communities) initiatives have emerged as examples of how to provide supportive, community-based services that will enable older adults to remain engaged in their community as they experience changes in their health status, mobility, and financial security. These community-level interventions emphasize the adaptability to an older adult’s changing lifestyle factors that influence how they navigate their community. These initiatives engage older adults in planning and implementing strategies to connect older adults with services and activities that promote aging in place. Social workers play a very important role in the provision of community-based aging services because they can serve as a bridge between older adults and the local, state, and federal level programs that may be available to them.

Article

Alma M. Ouanesisouk Trinidad

Community-based participatory research (CBPR) embraces a collaborative partnership approach to research that equitably involves community members, organizational representatives, social workers, other practitioners, and researchers in the research process. CBPR begins with a research topic of importance to the community and has the aim of combining knowledge with action and achieving social change. It is community based in the sense that community members become part of the research team and researchers become engaged in the activities of the community. Community–researcher partnerships allow for a blending and aligning of values and expertise, promoting co-learning and capacity-building among all partners, and integrating and achieving a balance between research and action for the mutual benefit of all partners. Various terms have been used to describe this research, including participatory action research, action research, community-based research, collaborative action research, anti-oppressive research, and feminist research.

Article

Umeka E’Lan Franklin

The history, theory, and empirical and practical knowledge of community building social networks and social ties contribute to informal social control, while neighborhood behavior is key to the development and maintenance of social cohesion. Diversity, equity, and inclusion is considered when examining the relationships among the elements of community resources, civic engagement, and civic participation. Empirical work provides evidence of effective ways to produce and promote community building in poor neighborhoods, as well as the practical knowledge that suggests its importance for the role of social work.

Article

Alice K. Johnson Butterfield and Benson Chisanga

Community development is a planned approach to improving the standard of living and well-being of disadvantaged populations in the United States and internationally. An overview of community development is provided. The objectives of community development include economic development and community empowerment, based on principles of community participation, self-help, integration, community organizing, and capacity building. Community building and asset-based approaches are recent trends and innovations. Community development is interdisciplinary, with models and methods derived from disciplines such as social work and urban planning. The entry examines linkages between community development and macro practice, including an increase in employment opportunities for social workers.