In this entry we address the primary purpose of family in supporting the growth and development of individual members throughout the life course. Life cycle and attachment theories inform our understanding of how families function. Changing family patterns are addressed in terms of the variety of family forms, the multiplicity of needs as economies shift and life expectancy lengthens, family coping and adaptation to normative transitions and unexpected crises, and the influence of cultural and racial diversity. We conclude with brief comments on the issues for contemporary families and needs for the social work profession.
Ruth Paris and Ellen R. DeVoe
Dorinda N. Noble
Children are interesting, resilient people, whose lives are often perilous. Social workers deal extensively with children and families, and with policies that affect children, to help children and families overcome family disruption, poverty, and homelessness. Social workers also provide mental health care while working to ensure that children get medical care. Schools are areas of practice for social workers dealing with children. The issues of ethical practice and social justice for children are complex.