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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

Michael S. Kelly and Marjorie C. Metcalf

Task-centered practice is a social work technology designed to help clients and practitioners collaborate on specific, measurable, and achievable goals. It is designed to be brief (typically, 8–12 sessions) and can be used with individuals, couples, families, and groups in a wide variety of social work practice contexts. With nearly 40 years of practice and research arguing for its effectiveness, task-centered practice can rightfully claim to be one of social work’s original “evidence-based practices,” though the relative paucity of research on its effectiveness in this decade suggests that the approach itself may have become increasingly integrated into other brief social work technologies.

Article

Philip R. Popple

Formal or institutional social services began in the United States in the late 19th century as a response to problems that were rapidly increasing as a result of modernization. These services were almost entirely private until the Great Depression in the 1930s when the government became involved via provisions of the Social Security Act. Services expanded greatly, beginning in the 1960s when the federal government developed a system wherein services were supported by public funds but provided through contracts with private agencies. This trend has continued and expanded, resulting in a uniquely American system wherein private agencies serve as vehicles for government social service policy.