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Article

Marsh, Leonard Charles  

Allan Moscovitch

Leonard Charles Marsh (1906–1982) is best known for his wartime report on Social Security in Canada, a comprehensive blueprint on the development of a postwar welfare state for Canada.

Article

Kaseke, Edwell  

Rodreck Mupedziswa

Professor Edwell Kaseke (1954–2017) was a respected African scholar who left an indelible mark in the field of social work and social development in Africa. During his professional career, he made immense contributions to scholarship both in Africa and internationally. Incontrovertibly, his writings made a significant contribution to the development and strengthening of institutions and approaches to addressing the plight of vulnerable groups in Africa. He might be gone, but his ideas live on.

Article

Epstein, Abraham  

Maryann Syers

Abraham Epstein (1892–1942) was an economist, educator, and writer. He was a leader in the post-World War I movement for passage of social security legislation. In 1927 he founded the American Association for Old Age Security (later the American Association for Social Security).

Article

United States Social Security System  

Eric R. Kingson and Nancy J. Altman

Social Security—the American people’s most important insurance—does more to maintain living standards and prevent poverty than any other social welfare policy or program, public or private. This entry discusses why our nation’s Social Security system was built, what it does, how it evolved and how it continues to do so. Contemporary challenges and related policy options are identified regarding program financing and the public’s need for expanded protections—retirement, disability, survivorship, paid family leave, and paid sick leave, among other protections. The analysis highlights messaging and political strategies used by those seeking to diminish the role of Social Security and those seeking to expand its protections. The entry suggests that the values and objectives of the American Social Security system comport well with social-work; and that both opportunity and need exist for social workers to shape Social Security’s future through application of policy analysis, advocacy, organizing and administrative skills.

Article

Rubinow, Isaac Max  

Larraine M. Edwards

Isaac Max Rubinow (1875–1936) was a consultant to the President's Committee on Economic Security and director of the Jewish Welfare Society of Philadelphia. He led the American social insurance movement and contributed to Jewish American welfare programs.

Article

Schottland, Charles Irwin  

Robert Perlman

Charles Irwin Schottland (1906–1994) was a leader in social welfare policy making and founder of an innovative school of advanced studies in social welfare at Brandeis University. As Commissioner of Social Security he initiated significant changes in social security law.

Article

Social Policy: History (1900–1950)  

Iris Carlton-LaNey

This entry traces American social welfare development from the 1890s to 1950. It also includes social work's participation and response to need during two critical times in American history: the Progressive Era and the New Deal. Social reformers were instrumental in the development of social legislation, including the establishment of the Children's Bureau as well as the development of a public welfare system at the state level. America's response to human suffering left many groups, such American Indians, African Americans, and Asians, marginalized. In response, African Americans established a parallel system of private relief through organizations such as the National Urban League, unlike the other racial groups.

Article

Abbott, Grace  

Jean K. Quam

Grace Abbott (1878–1939) was a teacher who went on to become Director of the Immigrants Protective League of Chicago and Director of the U.S. Children's Bureau. In 1934 she became professor of public welfare at the University of Chicago.

Article

Cohen, Wilbur  

Roland L. Guyotte

Wilbur Cohen (1913–1987) was secretary of the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare and chief architect of Medicare and Medicaid. He drafted the Social Security Act and, from the 1930s to the 1980s, developed its scope and defended it from cutbacks.

Article

Beveridge, Lord William  

James Midgley

Lord William Beveridge (1879–1963) was one of the founders of the British welfare state. His report of 1942 formed the basis for the Labour Government's social policies between 1945 and 1950 and fostered the creation of Britain's national health services.

Article

Social Policy: History (1950–1980)  

Mark J. Stern

Between 1950 and 1980, the United States developed a welfare state that in many ways was comparable to those of other advanced industrial nations. Building on its New Deal roots, the Social Security system came to provide a “social wage” to older Americans, people with disability, and the dependents of deceased workers. It created a health-care insurance system for the elderly, the disabled, and the poor. Using the tax system in innovative ways, the government encouraged the expansion of pension and health-care protection for a majority of workers and their families. By 1980, some Americans could argue that their identification as a “laggard” in the field of social provision was no longer justified.

Article

Pugh, William C. “Bill”  

Sadye L. M. Logan

William C. “Bill” Pugh (1921–1989) spent his entire professional career working to improve the quality of life of Alabamians. He used his creative social work skills to develop and implement social service programs for many Alabama citizens.

Article

Altmeyer, Arthur J.  

Jean K. Quam

Arthur J. Altmeyer (1891–1972) was an administrator in Washington, DC from 1934 to 1953. He was a leader of social welfare policy and helped design and implement the Social Security Act of 1935.

Article

Workers' Compensation  

Paul Terrell

Workers' Compensation is a form of social insurance financed and administered by each of the 50 states, the federal government (for federal workers), and the District of Columbia that protects workers and their families from some of the economic consequences of workplace-related accidents and illnesses.

Article

Wickenden, Elizabeth  

Eric R. Kingson

Elizabeth Wickenden (1909–2001) was a social work administrator and advisor, policy writer, and advocate. In the 1950s, she launched an effective coalition of social welfare and labor organizations, known as the “Wicky Lobby.” A pioneering legal rights advocate, she advanced legal services and class action strategies on behalf of public assistance and child welfare clients.

Article

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.

Article

Burns, Eveline Mabel  

John F. Longres

Eveline Mabel Burns (1900–1985) was a social economist and educator at Columbia University. She helped formulate the original Social Security Act and directed research that shaped public assistance and work programs through the 1940s.

Article

Sustainability  

Juliana Svistova, Loretta Pyles, and Arielle Dylan

As awareness has grown about the damage being done to the natural environment, limits of the earth’s finite resources, and the realities of climate change, environmental advocates have demanded sustainable development practices so that future generations will be able to meet their needs. Meanwhile, the widespread exploitation of workers in the industrial sector triggered the labor movement’s fight for social-economic justice. This focus on socio-economic justice that characterizes the labor movements is enlarged in the “sustainable development” framework which articulates triple bottom line practices that emphasize the interconnectedness of people, planet, and profit. The social work profession has joined these efforts, expanding its notion of the person-in-environment as it advocates for the needs of individuals, families, organizations, and communities. However, some scholars have problematized “sustainability,” questioning what exactly is being sustained, how sustainability is measured/evaluated, and who benefits.

Article

Social Services  

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.

Article

Perkins, Frances  

Jean K. Quam

Frances Perkins (1882–1965) was the first female U.S. Cabinet member, appointed secretary of labor in 1933 by Franklin D. Roosevelt. She helped standardize state industrial legislation, promoted the adoption of the social security system, and pushed for improved workers' conditions.