Professions are developed and maintained through various professional organizations and associations. As social work has evolved in terms of context and content, the professional membership and professional education organizations have periodically unified, separated, and later reunified in the attempt to maintain an identity as a single profession, yet responding to the needs and interests of different practice specialties, educational levels, special interest groups within social work, and diverse cultures and communities. Further discussion of the major organizations and associations in the profession of social work recognizes the continuous important contributions of emerging groups and entities that represent the diversity that exists in the profession.
Halaevalu F. O. Vakalahi, Michael M. Sinclair, and Bradford W. Sheafor
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.