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Article

Social work is a profession that began its life as a call to help the poor, the destitute and the disenfranchised of a rapidly changing social order. It continues today still pursuing that quest, perhaps with some occasional deviations of direction from the original spirit. Social work practice is the primary means of achieving the profession's ends. It is impossible to overstate the centrality or the importance of social work practice to the profession of social work. Much of what is important about the history of the profession is the history of social work practice. We must consider both social work practice per se (the knowledge base, practice theories and techniques) and the context for social work practice. The context of practice includes the agency setting, the policy framework and the large social system in which practice takes place. Social work practice is created within a political, social, cultural and economic matrix that shapes the assumptions of practice, the problems that practice must deal with and the preferred outcomes of practice. Over time, the base forces that create practice and create the context for practice, change. Midgley (1981) correctly notes that practice created in one social order is often inappropriate for work in another social order. Since the social order changes over time, practice created at one point in time may no longer be appropriate in the future.

Article

June Gary Hopps and Tony B. Lowe

The 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 heighten judicial scrutiny. Workforce realities—education, technology, and integration of new diverse practitioners throughout the practice continuum—which can address demanding fields (that is, aging, health, child welfare), focused on evidence to move the human condition forward.

Article

M. C. Terry Hokenstad

Social work education's development and focus around the world reflects the increasing reality of global interdependence in the initial decade of the 21st century. A number of countries have recently initiated programs of education for social workers, and there are an increasing number of international exchange programs for students and faculty. There continues to be considerable diversity in the focus and structure of educational programs across nations, but a recently developed set of Global Standards for Social Work Education and Training provides a common framework that can be voluntarily applied and adapted to local conditions.

Article

Katharine Cahn and Nocona Pewewardy

Dr. Kristine E. Nelson (1943–2012) was a nationally recognized child welfare historian and scholar, as well as a social work educator and administrator. Her early work in child welfare and a deep commitment to social justice informed her scholarship, research, and leadership. Her research focused on family preservation and community-based child welfare practice, with a focus on families entering the child welfare system due to neglect or poverty-related challenges. She was a significant contributor to advancing new frameworks of child welfare practice and had a successful career as a social work educator and administrator, retiring as Dean of the Portland State University School of Social Work in 2011.

Article

Eleanor L. Brilliant

Volunteer activity is linked to the concept of American democracy; it is also the source of early social work in the nineteenth century. Volunteering is action taken by personal choice and generally without expectation of pay; it takes many forms. In 2006, it represented over 8 billion hours of organization-related service in the United States. There are costs as well as benefits in volunteering. In the human services, volunteers have a variety of roles from serving on leadership Boards to providing direct service; tension may exist between professional staff and volunteers, and volunteer management is important for effective use of volunteers.

Article

Joan Levy Zlotnik

An important attribute of a profession is the systematic study of its practices, to continually advance its service modalities. Throughout its history the social work profession has engaged in research and sought to strengthen connections between research and practice. National social work organizations and federal agencies, especially the National Institute of Mental Health, have all played key roles in stimulating and assessing the research enterprise. International and interdisciplinary research, advanced research methods and research/practitioner/community partnerships provide perspective for future efforts.

Article

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.

Article

Hans S. Falck

Thomas Owen Carlton (1937–1992) was an expert in curriculum development in social work education as well as an author, an editor, and a scholar in health social work and social policy. He believed history influences social welfare planning.

Article

Professional associations have been present since the birth of the visiting teacher/school social work movement in 1906. The five major associations—National Association of School Social Workers, National Association of Social Workers, the Midwest School Social Work Council, State School Social Work Associations (both individually and as a group), and the School Social Work Association of America—collectively provide vital services such as conferences and publications that form the foundation of the profession. Their decisions have shaped the history of school social work as well as maintain the current level of services to the school social work community. The practice of school social work today is based in large part on the decisions made by the professional associations in the past and now.

Article

Rino J. Patti

This entry provides a broad introduction to management or administration, one of the methods of practice employed by social workers to achieve professional and organizational objectives. The contributions of management to the human services, the history administration as a practice in social work, and the evolution of education for management are traced. Management is defined and the roles and functions performed by practitioners are addressed as well as the theoretical perspectives they draw upon in the performance of their craft. Finally, major issues and likely future developments in this field are reviewed.