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Article

North America is one of the world's richest regions, and both the United States and Canada are ranked in the top 10 of the United Nations Human Development Index. However, poverty and inequality, and in particular, child poverty continues to be a significant problem. Social workers in both countries provide a wide array of human services to a range of populations. Social work has developed into a mature profession but is currently struggling to meet the increasing demand for its services.

Article

Hilary N. Weaver

First Nations Peoples, the original inhabitants of what is now the United States, are a diverse and growing population. There are approximately 5.2 million First Nations Peoples within the boundaries of the United States. First Nations Peoples tend to be younger, poorer, and less educated than others in the United States. The contemporary issues faced by these Peoples are intimately intertwined with the history of colonization and federal policies that perpetuate dependency and undermine self-determination. Social workers must overcome the negative history of their profession with First Nations Peoples, in particular social work involvement in extensive child removals and coercive sterilization of Indigenous women. Social workers have the power and ability to make important differences in enhancing the social, economic, and health status of First Nations Peoples, but this must begin with an awareness of their own attitudes and beliefs, as well as an awareness of how social workers have contributed to, rather than worked to alleviate, the problems of First Nations Peoples.

Article

The profession of social work has a long and rich history of participating in and influencing the work of the United Nations and its affiliate agencies, almost since the inception of the institution. This history includes not only the work of social work or social welfare organizations as accredited nongovernmental organizations, but also of individual social workers who were trailblazers in the field of international work. The founding conference of the United Nations in San Francisco in 1945 played a key role in establishing what has come to be a formal relationship between civil society and the United Nations. Article 71 of the United Nations Charter cemented this relationship by allowing the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to make consultative arrangements with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) (United Nations, 2003). The number of NGOs at the founding conference numbered 1,200; at present there are 3,900 NGOs that have consultative status with ECOSOC (Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2014). Three of the leading social work organizations that have consultative status with the United Nations are: International Association of Schools of Social Work (received consultative status in 1947), International Federation of Social Workers—(received consultative status in 1959), and International Council on Social Welfare (received consultative status in 1972).

Article

Asia contains more than 60% of the world’s population and is the fastest growing economic region. However, it faces challenges, including poverty, HIV and AIDS, and human rights concerns. In the midst of rapid changes in the social–political context, social workers and welfare organizations are making a significant contribution in addressing these challenges and improving social well-being in the region by broadening indigenous social networks to incorporate private, public, and community interventions.

Article

Africa is one of the world's poorest regions and it faces numerous and complex challenges as it strives to achieve its development objectives. The main challenges relate to poverty and its alleviation, economic growth, democratization leading to political stability, improving social welfare, and generally creating a just and equitable society. The resolution of these issues is critical to social work if the profession is to make an impact.

Article

The social, political, and economic features of Central America are summarized and the impact of economic and political processes on the region is highlighted. Predominant global, historical, cultural, and political events are weaved together, in an attempt to understand the realities of the region. The challenges for social work profession and practice are presented, as well as their implications for new approaches to intervention and education.

Article

North African and Middle Eastern nations have an 80-year history with social work, based on colonial, imported models of practice. There is some success in localizing social work to immediate communities. Social welfare tends to be instrumental, selective, and not comprehensive. Colonialism has hurt political institutions; and geopolitical conflicts, socioeconomic inequality, poverty, and political repression also influence parameters of social work and social change.

Article

Europe includes not only some of the most economically and socially developed countries in the world but also some of the poorest. Social work as a profession has been well established for over 100 years within a variety of social welfare models; the countries in Central and Eastern Europe have re-established social work since the 1990s. The financial crisis of 2007/2008 and its aftermath, followed by the challenges of migration from war zones and Africa, have had a significant impact on the politics and social policy of the region and the resources available for social services and social work in most countries. These events are provoking a re-evaluation of the European Social Model. Some argue that they have also fueled the rise in electoral support for far right, nationalist, anti-immigration, and populist parties, seen also in other continents. The decision of the United Kingdom to break away from the EU, following a referendum in 2016, and the increase in support for anti-EU parties in other countries are having a profound social and political impact across the region.

Article

Political ideologies developed to address “social problems” shape public policy debates, social policy strategies, and social work practice. The clashes among the long-standing political traditions—conservatism, liberalism, and radicalism—reflect fundamental and often irreconcilable differences regarding social, economic, and political life. Ideology also shapes theories of racial and gender inequality. These ideological perspectives and theories diverge on several core issues that underpin social welfare provision, including human nature, the role of the market and the state, definition of social problems, and the role of the welfare state. The resulting distinctions provide social workers with a framework to more effectively assess and change social welfare policies.

Article

The Caribbean is a multiethnic, multilingual archipelago of islands and mainland territories, with similar experiences of European colonialism and modern-day globalization. The countries generally enjoy stable political systems but grapple with many of the problems experienced by countries elsewhere. These include vulnerability to natural disasters, migration, violence, and drug abuse. Lifestyle diseases such as cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease are on the increase, and the region is second only to sub-Saharan Africa in the prevalence of HIV and AIDS. In the English-speaking Caribbean, social work is well established, and social service provisioning is modeled on the traditional welfare state approach. A few countries have achieved universal levels of social service delivery.

Article

Australia and Aotearoa-New Zealand are among the world's most liveable countries, despite the increase in relative poverty and the negative effect of past policies on indigenous populations. Social work is well established and is social-justice oriented. Social work is an emerging profession in the Pacific Islands, where economic and social potential is often hampered by political instability and a lack of sustainable economic management, rapid urbanization, and unemployment.

Article

Manohar Pawar and Marie Weil

This article presents an integrated perspective and framework for global practice toward achieving the Global Agenda developed by international social work organizations. First, it presents “global practice” as a progressive, comprehensive, and future-oriented term that encompasses social work and social, economic, and sustainable development at multiple levels: local, national, regional, international, multinational, and global. Second, it discusses the origin and 21st-century understanding of the Global Agenda for social work. Third, it deliberates on ways of moving forward on the Global Agenda at multiple levels through an integrated perspectives framework consisting of global, ecological, human rights, and social development perspectives to guide practice. Finally, it concludes that global practice and the Global Agenda need to be translated into local-level social work and development practice and local-level agendas, making a case for social work and sustainable social development leadership and practice at grassroots and national levels.

Article

This article discusses the African American social welfare system that began to develop during the early 20th century. This social welfare system, designed by African Americans to serve African Americans, addressed needs that were not being met by any other formal social services while the nascent social work profession was emerging. The myriad programs included settlement houses, boys and girls programs, training schools, and day nurseries. The women’s club movement played a critical role in the development of this social welfare system and provided much of the impetus for change and inclusion. Through formal organizations, including the National Urban League (NUL) and the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), and an array of clubs and social groups, social services were extended to urban and rural communities throughout the United States.