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Article

Courtney, Catherine  

Carole Zugazaga

Catherine “Kate” Courtney (née Potter), Baroness Courtney of Penwirth (1847–1929), was a British social worker, political activist, and suffragist who actively campaigned for world peace.

Article

Mouravieff-Apostol, Andrew  

Rosalie Blair

Andrew Mouravieff-Apostol (1913–2001), best known for his work as the International Federation of Social Workers’ Secretary General from 1975–1992, and later Honorary President until his death in 2001.

Article

Grief and Loss  

Sara Sanders, Matthew Tvedte, and Mercedes Espinal-Lujan

This article summarizes the history of grief theory and provides an overview of major theoretical frameworks for understanding grief and grief work. Specific types of losses are defined and described, including the newer concept of community grief and loss. Interventions for individuals, groups, and communities are outlined, followed by a discussion of the role of social workers in addressing grief and loss.

Article

Jennison, Mary Irick  

Therese Jennissen

Mary Irick Jennison (1892–1970) was a Canadian social worker, writer, teacher, and social justice and peace activist.

Article

Social Work Profession  

June Gary Hopps and Tony B. Lowe

The social work profession addressed a panoply of social problems that grew larger in an ever-expanding geopolitical environment, where social equity or justice was often a remedial value. Social welfare institutions and programs, initially private and later both public and private, filled the societal void, bringing social care to the disadvantaged. Lay caregivers formed the foundation for a nascent, but now over 100-year-old, profession. Growth was sustained for over 50 years from the 1930s to 1980s, when progressive thought was challenged with conservative ideology. The challenge for contemporary social welfare and a maturing social work profession is how to navigate a changing milieu highlighted by complex human conditions in the face of real and contrived shortages, increasing class stratification, political polarization, and heightened judicial scrutiny.

Article

Oncology Social Work  

Marie M. Lauria

Oncology social work is a specialization of social work in health care. Its practitioners provide supportive services and programs, patient navigation, education, research, administration, policy development, and advocacy to address the social, psychological, practical, and spiritual concerns of cancer patients, their families, and caregivers from pre-diagnosis through treatment, survivorship, and end of life care or bereavement. The coming decades will present many challenges and opportunities for oncology social workers in helping patients, families, and caregivers overcome barriers to quality of life and care.

Article

Drug Policy Reform  

Sheila P. Vakharia

Social workers are uniquely qualified to be effective drug policy advocates for effective and equitable policies through their commitment to advancing social welfare and promoting social justice. The prohibitionist antidrug policies that began at the turn of the 20th century have been a key driver for the criminalization of millions of Americans over time, a disproportionate number of whom have been people of color. The period beginning with President Richard Nixon’s “War on Drugs,” in addition to contributing to inequality and marginalization, has exacerbated a number of public health and safety harms, suggesting that past policy approaches have not met their intended aims. The North American opioid overdose crisis in the early 21st century is presented as an illustrative case study because its persistence and mounting death toll exemplify the challenges with the current model of drug prohibition. Areas for macro social work interventions include legislative advocacy through lobbying, provision of expert testimony in legislative hearings, engagement in reform through litigation, involvement in social action, and performing policy analysis and research.

Article

Coyle, Grace Longwell  

Jean K. Quam

Grace Longwell Coyle (1892–1962) was the first to develop a scientific approach to group work practice. She was president of the National Conference of Social Work, the American Association of Social Workers, and the Council of Social Work Education.

Article

Wood, Gertie  

Dionne V. Frank

Gertie Wood (September 18, 1892–August 26, 1976) was a Guyanese social worker, music teacher, women’s rights activist, and the first female political candidate in the British West Indies. She is most often described by Caribbean historians, gender and development scholars, and supporters of the women’s movements as a pioneer women’s rights activist. However, Wood also made an invaluable impact on social work in then British Guiana during the 1930s and 1940s, articulating the plight of women and children in the former British colony. She found fame with the Circle of Sunshine Workers, the Second Inter-Colonial Conference of Women Social Workers, and her amplification of the need for social welfare workers and programs to the Royal West Indian Commission in 1939. Wood’s activism chartered the path for establishing the British Guiana League of Social Services, a trajectory that created a model for national and transnational collaborative work. Wood was honored for her self-sacrificing service as a recipient of the King’s Silver Jubilee Medal—an Order of the British Empire.

Article

Worker Centers  

Alice B. Gates

This article describes worker centers as new sites for macro social work practice. Incorporating elements of community, policy, and organizational practice, worker centers are community-based organizations focused on the needs of low-wage and otherwise vulnerable groups of workers. This new type of worker organization emerged most prominently in the United States in the mid-1990s, largely in response to concerns about workplace abuses in low-wage and informal sectors dominated by immigrant workers and workers of color. Since then, the impact and reach of worker centers has grown through their dispersion across the United States and the growth of national worker center networks. Drawing on multiple traditions, including labor unions, settlement houses, and ethnic agencies, worker centers offer a hybrid approach to planned change. They support workers organizing for collective action, provide direct services, and advocate for policy change at the local, state, and federal level. Since their emergence, worker centers have led the efforts to pass legislation protecting domestic workers and helped low-wage workers win millions of dollars in lost or stolen wages from employers. These and other notable examples of U.S. worker centers’ contributions to macro practice will be discussed.

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

Bartlett, Harriett M.  

Beatrice N. Saunders

Harriett M. Bartlett (1897–1987) was a social worker and theoretician who served as president of the American Association of Medical Social Workers from 1942 to 1944. She highlighted social functioning as a central focus of social work practice.

Article

Fernandis, Sarah A. Collins  

Wilma Peebles-Wilkins

Sarah Fernandis (1863–1951) was a civic leader and organizer of public health activities in Black communities. She founded the first black social settlement in the United States. In 1920, she became the first Black social worker employed in the City Venereal Disease Clinic of the Baltimore Health Department.

Article

Miller, Samuel O.  

Ronald A. Feldman

Samuel O. Miller (1931–1994), social work educator, scholar, and practitioner, was a faculty member at Columbia University's School of Social Work (1973–1994). He had an active private social work practice involving interventions for AIDS and primary prevention for ethnic minorities.

Article

Chunn, Jay Carrington, II  

Tanya Smith Brice

Jay Carrington Chunn, II, (1938–2013), was a leader in social work education, a professor, and an author who focused on public health and policy within urban populations.

Article

Alexandraki, Litsa  

Rosalie Blair

Litsa Alexandraki (1918–1986) was best known for her work in Greece on matters of child welfare, and the protection of refugees and migrants. She was also elected for three terms as President of the International Federation of Social Workers, a position she held from 1962–1968.

Article

Baccalaureate Social Workers  

Larry D. Williams, Blenda Crayton, and Agha Erum Agha

The history of social work education is replete with accounts of how the early charity organizations influenced its development. For example, Toynbee Hall in London inspired the founding of Hull House in Chicago as well as the London Charity Organization, the Women’s University Settlement, and the National Union of Women Workers. In addition, Octavia Hill established one of the first training programs in social work education that emphasized the principles for helping impoverished clients. The program was later expanded in 1890 into a one-year program of courses and supervised practice. Later, the program expanded to outlying areas and provinces and eventually evolved into two-year programs of study at the London School of Sociology Defining today’s baccalaureate social workers as entry-level professionals is indeed a paradigm shift. Tracy Whitaker, Toby Weismiller, and Elizabeth Clark stated in their 2006 work, “Clearly, the social work profession is at a crossroad. If there are to be adequate numbers of social workers to respond to the needs of clients in the 21st century and beyond, the sufficiency of this frontline workforce, must not only be ensured, it must be prioritized.” In our ever-changing society, the social work profession must rethink the various levels of the profession and recognize, as well as promote, a professional career trajectory that embraces the baccalaureate social work professional. Administrators and faculty of each social work program are responsible for ensuring that students are competent, and that they possess skill sets that will elevate their marketable in a competitive workforce. Recruiting new social workers, replacing retiring social workers, and retaining social workers in the profession are all needed.

Article

Cannon, Mary Antoinette  

Jean K. Quam

Mary Antoinette Cannon (1884–1962) was a social worker and educator who helped develop medical social work. She created courses in psychiatry and medicine in schools of social work and helped establish the Social Services Employees Union.

Article

The NASW Code of Ethics  

Frederic G. Reamer

Ethical standards in social work have matured significantly since the profession’s formal inauguration in the late 19th century. As in most professions, social work’s principal code of ethics has evolved from a brief, broadly worded document to a detailed, comprehensive guide to ethical practice. This article summarizes the diverse purposes and functions of professional codes of ethics and the historical trends and changes in social work’s codes of ethics. The key components of the NASW Code of Ethics—the code’s preamble, broad ethical principles, and more specific ethical standards—are described.

Article

International Social Work: Overview  

Lynne M. Healy

This article presents an overview of definitions of international social work, relevant theories, the history of the field, and current practice roles. Definitional debates and critiques of international social work are discussed, as the term international social work has been a contested one. Scholars have defined international social work variously as a specialized area of practice, as the integrated global profession, as the exchange of people and ideas across borders, and as a more general perspective or worldview. The concluding section highlights some of the current challenges facing the field: developing relevant career tracks in international social work, strengthening representation of the profession at the global level, specifying the universal elements of social work, and continuing to clarify the concept of international social work.