As a profession, social workers must understand and work well within the realms of capacity development. This understanding is important because it provides a foundation for working at the micro and macro levels to engage communities, organizations, systems, and individuals. However, the complexity of capacity development has made it difficult for social workers to fully engage from this stance. This entry discusses the historical development of capacity development and building while linking it to social justice. It also provides a theoretical perspective and methods for understanding and utilizing capacity development and building in social-work practice.
DeBrenna LaFa Agbényiga
Joshua Kirven and George Jacinto
Community healing and reconciliation have been a focus of many nations in response to civil war, genocide, and other conflicts. There have been increasing numbers of high-profile murders of African-American youths in the United States over the past 10 years. This article provides an overview of gun violence and its effects on African-American youths. Sanford, Florida, and Cleveland, Ohio, experienced the murders of Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice, and the responses of the cities will be highlighted. The two cities provide potential models by communities to address historical injustices in the aftermath of high-profile fatal black male tragedies.
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.
Parent involvement is a broad, multidimensional term that refers to parental attitudes, expectations, and behaviors related to their child’s learning and healthy development. Parent involvement in schools is linked to numerous positive outcomes for youth, teachers, and schools and is critical to school improvement; however a number of barriers often prevent parents from becoming fully involved with schools. Several models exist that provide key strategies to enhance parent and family involvement. This article defines parent involvement, explores an expanded view of parent involvement, describes common barriers, and outlines key strategies to enhance parent involvement. Possible implications for social work practice are also provided.
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. In the United States, the status of social and political engagement is of heightened concern, particularly as emerging research demonstrates a range of effects. The challenge for social work is to increase the capacity of the nonprofit sector to promote and maximize engagement, especially among low-income and low-wealth individuals, through theory-driven, evidence-based interventions.
Katie Richards-Schuster, Suzanne Pritzker, and Amanda Rodriguez-Newhall
Youth empowerment examines young people’s agency, action, and engagement in change efforts to improve their situations. Its scholarship builds on empowerment constructs and frameworks to focus on the strengths that young people possess as they interact with other individuals and systems in their lives. In particular, youth empowerment rests on a core belief that young people are experts on their lives, with unique perspectives to bring to their communities. Empowerment functions on three core levels, focusing on strengthening individuals’ personal, interpersonal, and political power. This article explores key concepts that underlie personal, interpersonal, and political empowerment, while most deeply examining the core principles, practices, and strategies specific to young people’s political empowerment. Challenges commonly faced when seeking to empower young people are identified as well.