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Article

John M. Herrick

Social policy is how a society responds to social problems. Any government enactment that affects the well-being of people, including laws, regulations, executive orders, and court decisions, is a social policy. In the United States, with its federal tradition of shared government, social policies are made by governments at many levels—local, state, and national. A broad view of social policy recognizes that corporations and both nonprofit and for-profit social-service agencies also develop policies that affect customers and those they serve and therefore have social implications. Social policies affect society and human behavior, and their importance for social-work practice has long been understood by the social-work profession. Modern social welfare policies, which respond to basic human needs such as health care, housing food, and employment, have evolved since their introduction during the New Deal of the 1930s as responses to the Great Depression. In the aftermath of the recent “Great Recession” that began in 2006, the nation has once again experienced the kinds of social problems that led to the creation of innovative social welfare policies in the 1930s. How policy makers respond to human needs depends on who has the power to make policy and how they conceptualize human needs and the most effective ways to respond to them. In the early 21st century, the idea that the state should guarantee the welfare and well-being of its citizens through progressive welfare state policies and services has few adherents among policy makers. The complex social problems resulting from the recession—the highest unemployment since the Great Depression of the 1930s, escalating budget deficits at all levels of government, an unprecedented housing crisis exemplified by massive foreclosures, increasing social and economic inequality, a nation polarized by corrosive political conflict and incivility—create a context in which social policies are debated vociferously. Social workers, long committed to the ideal of social justice for all, are obligated to understand how policies affect their practice as well as the lives of those they serve and to advocate for policies that will improve social well-being as the United States recovers.

Article

Michael Anthony Lewis

This article covers basic economic concepts, as well as their relevance to social welfare policy. It defines economics, and follows this with discussions of microeconomic concepts, such as market, demand, supply, equilibrium price, and market failure. Next, it takes up discussions of macroeconomic concepts, such as gross domestic product, aggregate demand, inflation, unemployment, fiscal policy, taxes, and free trade. As these economic concepts are discussed, they are related to social welfare policies, such as Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

Article

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.

Article

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.

Article

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.

Article

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.

Article

David Stoesz

Welfare as a right has long been an objective of advocates for social and economic justice. During the 1960s, the right to welfare was championed by legal scholars as well as the activists who created the National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO). With the demise of NWRO in 1975 and the subsequent ascendance of conservatism in social policy, notably the 1996 welfare reform act, momentum for welfare as a right flagged. Since the 1990s, a capability approach to well-being has been proposed, and various instruments have been constructed to evaluate the welfare of populations across nations as well as subnational jurisdictions. Variables such as income, health, education, employment, and satisfaction measures of well-being have effectively replaced the idea of welfare as a right. The transition from welfare as a right to well-being varying across populations provides more information social workers can use to advocate for marginalized populations.

Article

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.

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

The term “international social welfare” is used to refer both to social welfare policies and programs around the world and to the academic study of international social welfare activities. The entry focuses on the latter meaning and provides an overview of the history of scholarly inquiry into international social welfare, the key topics that have been identified and discussed by international social welfare scholars, and the likely future development of the field.

Article

David G. Gil

Violet Sieder (1909–1988) was a social welfare educator and leader. She taught social planning, community organization, and rehabilitation at the Florence Heller Graduate School, Brandeis University. She organized the Massachusetts Human Services Coalition, serving as its first president (1975–1981).

Article

Sarah Gehlert, Rowena Fong, and Gail Steketee

The American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare (AASWSW) is a scholarly and professional society of distinguished of social work and social welfare scholars and practitioners that was conceived in 2009 to establish excellence in social work and social welfare research and practice. The first 10 Fellows were inducted in 2010 and a total of 172 Fellows have been inducted since that year. Nominations are solicited from current Fellows, processed through a Nominations and Elections Committee process, and voted on by the membership. Through committee structure and an expanding, and now independent, practical initiative called the Grand Challenges for Social Work that was the Academy’s first initiative, the Academy serves to advance social welfare through advocacy and policy and to encourage scholarship, along with expanding the reach of the Academy Fellows’ expertise into critical government and public forums. The AASWSW s in its second-year of administering a mentoring program to provide expertise and resources for early career faculty through Fellows who volunteer as mentors for specific projects like a grant application or research manuscript. Future Academy endeavors include awards for innovation and impact in research or practice, sponsoring policy briefs, often in conjunction with other academies, and serving as a relevant source of information for the social work profession.

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

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

Maryann Syers

Richard Morris Titmuss (1907–1973) was a scholar, administrator, and educator who developed the subject area of social policy and administration as an intellectually respectable field of inquiry. He was chair of Social Administration at the London School of Economics.

Article

The educational imperative to study social welfare policy has remained a constant throughout the history of social work education. Although specific policies and social issues may change over time, the need to advocate for and create humane, justice-based social policy remains paramount. The study of welfare policy contributes to the effectiveness of practitioners who are knowledgeable and skilled in analysis, advocacy, and the crafting of justice-based social welfare policies. In addition to traditional policy content areas, students should develop knowledge and skills in critical thinking, understand a range of justice theories, and recognize the direct interaction between globalization and national and local policy matters.

Article

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

Charles E. Lewis Jr.

The Congressional Social Work Caucus is a bicameral authorized Congressional Member Organization (CMO) founded by former Congressman Edolphus “Ed” Towns In November 2010 during the 110th Congress. The mission of the caucus is to provide a platform in Congress that will allow social workers to engage the federal government. The Social Work Caucus consists of members of the House of Representative and the U.S. Senate who are professional social workers or who generally support the ideals, principles, and issues germane to the social work profession. Because of House Ethic rules, CMOs are prohibited from possessing resources of its own and must depend on the office budgets of its members. Consequently, the Social Work Caucus participated in a number of congressional briefings and seminars in conjunction with other social work organizations such as the National Association of Social Worker (NASW), the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), and the Social for Social Work and Research (SSWR). These public events covered a wide range of topics such as social workers roles in the Affordable Care Act, military social work, funding for mental health research, and trauma-based practice in child welfare.

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

Larraine M. Edwards

Jane M. Hoey (1892–1968) helped to establish and enforce standards in public welfare administration. She was the director of social research for the National Tuberculosis Association and served as president of the National Conference of Social Work.