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Barrett, Janie Porter  

Wilma Peebles-Wilkins

Janie Porter Barrett (1865–1948) was a noted African American child welfare reformer. In 1890, she founded the Locust Street Social Settlement, one of the first settlements for black people in the United States. She later established and became superintendent of Virginia Industrial School for Colored Girls in 1915.


Dumpson, James R.  

Nancy Boyd Webb

James R. Dumpson (1909–2012) was the first African American dean of a non-black school of social work following a career in public service in New York where he worked tirelessly to promote social change and implement social justice.


Social Policy: History (1980 to Present)  

P. Nelson Reid

With the election of President Ronald Reagan in 1980 the United States entered an era of social policy development shaped in large measure by themes associated with political conservatism: privatization, federalism, work-linked benefits, personal responsibility, and “family values.” These themes have resulted in changes to the basic structure of American social welfare that will persist into the 21st century.


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.


Social Policy in Canada  

Micheal L. Shier and John R. Graham

The focus and aim of social policy in Canada have in part been determined by the unique sociohistorical and cultural context of the country. This entry provides a brief overview of the leading factors that have contributed to the development of social policy in Canada. Emphasis is placed on the economic, social, and cultural context of the development of the country, along with the system of governance and the ideological framework among the general populace. Following this contextualization, four dominant periods of social policy are described. These include the residual period, the emerging institutional period, the institutional period, and the postinstitutional period. In each era the forces leading to specific social policy outcomes are described. These include aspects of the changing economic system and emerging cultural and social needs among the population. Key social policies in each era are introduced and described. Fundamental to each period of social policy development are the efforts of the voluntary sector. In conclusion, future trends in social policy and social welfare in Canada are discussed.


Vasey, Wayne  

Ludwig L. Geismar

Wayne Vasey (1910–1992) was a social work educator who contributed to the fields of social policy, social welfare, and gerontology. He was founding executive of the social work schools at the University of Iowa and Rutgers University.


Abbott, Edith  

Jean K. Quam

Edith Abbott (1876–1957) was a social worker and educator. She was Dean of the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago from 1924 to 1942 and she helped in drafting the Social Security Act of 1935.


Social Welfare Expenditures  

Richard Hoefer

Understanding both public and private welfare expenditures is necessary to appreciate the full scope of a social welfare system. This entry examines spending in four major areas of social welfare policy (health, medical, and nutrition; retirement and disability insurance; income maintenance and welfare; and education), comparing the public and private sectors. While expenditures for both sectors are increasing, private expenditures are not increasing as a percentage of total costs, despite efforts to privatize social welfare. This may change in the future if military costs continue to siphon governmental costs away from social welfare expenditures.


Social Welfare Policy: Overview  

Diana M. DiNitto and David H. Johnson

Social welfare policy may be defined as government’s response to human needs such as food, housing, healthcare, employment, and other necessities. Many contemporary U.S. social welfare policies have roots in the New Deal programs of the 1930s, which were responses to the Great Depression. The civil unrest of the 1960s, the “Great Recession” of 2008, and the COVID-19 pandemic also brought about major policy responses. There are basic philosophical differences in approaches that Americans believe the United States should take to meeting human needs, often described in liberal and conservative perspectives. Social insurance and public assistance programs are major responses to poverty and other needs. Disparities based on race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and other factors may also be addressed through social welfare policies, sometimes in the form of civil rights legislation. Racism and other forms of systemic discrimination, however, continue to prevent many Americans from reaping the benefits that others enjoy. The National Association of Social Workers’ code of ethics calls for social workers’ political involvement. Social workers participate in all aspects of policy processes to improve the biopsychosocial well-being of Americans and people across the globe.


Shyne, Ann Wentworth  

Edmund Sherman and William J. Reid

Ann Wentworth Shyne (1914–1995) was a founding member of the influential Social Work Research Group, which promoted research on social work practice. Her work had a considerable impact on family and child welfare services and on social work research.


Cassidy, Harry Morris  

Rosalie Blair

Harry Morris Cassidy (1900–1951) was a Canadian academic, social reformer, civil servant, and, briefly, a politician. A pioneer in the field of social work, he was also the founding dean of the School of Social Welfare at the University of California, Berkeley, in the early 1940s. He then worked for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. He subsequently became dean of the School of Social Work at the University of Toronto.


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.


International Social Work and Social Welfare: North America  

Wes Shera

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.


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.



Andrew Dobelstein

Privatizing social services has taken a new turn as America enters the 21st century. Although it was once possible to separate private and public social services, the growing trend toward public–private partnerships has made such earlier distinctions meaningless since more and more private social services are supported with public money. There are advantages and disadvantages inherent in the mixing of public and private social services, but perhaps the greatest problem may be the support of a growing trend for all levels of government to dissociate themselves from their longstanding public social service responsibilities.


Chambers, Donald Everard  

Edward R. Canda

Donald Everard Chambers (1929–2023) was an influential proponent of the systematic analysis of social policies and social programs. His personal life experiences and professional practice and education shaped his work. For example, he was born at the beginning of the Great Depression. Throughout childhood, he was mainly in the care of his mother, Ruth Swenson. Her work in human services led them to live in several Midwestern states in early childhood. She obtained a master’s in social work at New York University around 1938. Her subsequent work for United Service Organizations brought them to several other midwestern and western states, including California. During this period, Chambers gained experience living with people of various social classes impacted by economic hardship and World War II. He also learned to be flexible and adaptable to changing life circumstances and to challenge health and mental health inequities and injustices in social policies. Chambers obtained a BA degree at Stanford University in biology and psychology in 1950 and an MSW at the University of Nebraska in 1952. He was a social work practitioner for about 15 years in the fields of rural social work, mental health, and health in Nebraska, Idaho, and Iowa. Chambers attended Washington University’s Doctor of Social Work program, obtaining his degree in 1967. He was on the faculty of the University of Kansas from 1967 to 1996, where he taught graduate courses on social policy and program analysis. His research and service focused on issues of poverty, child welfare, and analysis of social programs and policies. In 1977–1978, he studied the British Workman’s Compensation system and social policy at the British Library in London. In 1990–1991, he studied child welfare and adoption in Central America as a Fulbright scholar. His most influential book was Social Policy and Social Programs: A Method for the Practical Public Policy Analyst.


Davidson, George  

Allan Moscovitch

George Davidson’s (1909–1995) working life included four careers over a period of over 45 years. In his first two careers he was director of welfare in the government of British Columbia, executive director of the Canadian Welfare Council, and then the government of Canada’s first deputy minister of welfare. In his later careers he was president of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and undersecretary general of the United Nations.


Cloward, Richard  

Alex Gitterman

Richard Cloward (1926–2005) was an internationally renowned scholar, social activist, and educator at Columbia University. His scholarship on contemporary issues in the US was informed by his social activism on the frontlines, organizing for welfare rights and voter registration.


Burch, Hobart A.  

Sadye L. M. Logan

Hobart A. Burch (1932–2012) was a productive scholar whose career was distinguished by his commitment to creating a just and equal world. His career spanned several interrelated areas with the emphasis on policy and program development.


Welfare Rights  

David Stoesz and Catherine Born

American social and economic justice advocates, social workers included, have struggled to establish a national mindset that welfare is a right, a duty owed to the people by government, not a privilege that can be revoked at will. Industrialized nations with a universalistic, rights-based philosophy have strived to provide citizens with some measure of a basic, minimum income; the United States has not, yet. The United States has been hobbled by ideology; a two-tier system consisting of assistance and insurance; and cultural misgivings about direct, ongoing public payments (welfare) to the poor. Revitalization of a national welfare rights movement, early signals from the Biden administration, and awareness that major social policy changes most often happen at times of crisis offer reasons for a degree of optimism. The COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath are a moment in time—an inflection point—when social workers, because of their training, ethical codes, skill sets, and appreciation of the lessons of social welfare history, could play a key role in charting a new course of action suited to 21st-century needs and realities.