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Article

Patricia Brownell

Older workers make important contributions to the workplace, its productivity, and its culture. Work remains important for older adults for financial security, to give meaning to later life, to maintain social networks, and to promote lifelong learning. However, ageist beliefs about the capacity of older adults to remain productive and contributing workers in the workforce can create barriers for older workers. Understanding how older workers experience ageist behavior in the workplace can help employers, policy makers, and social workers learn more about how to address this social problem. Organizations can become more age friendly through enabling workplace programs, supportive management, and proactive human resource managers. Social workers serving older adults in employee assistance programs and in private practice can help them to challenge ageism in the workplace. Finally, legislation such as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act protects the rights of older workers; however, more legislation is needed to address bullying and harassment of older adults in the workplace.

Article

Lynn McDonald

Retirement is a modest social institution that appeared in most industrialized nations near the start of the 20th century. The aim of retirement was to solve the societal dilemma of an increasingly aged labor force by moving older workers systematically out of their jobs so as to not cause them financial harm (Atchley, 1980, p. 264). Although retirement has been considered benign since its inception, the history of retirement indicates that it is one of the main progenitors of ageism in society today (Atchley, 1982, 1993; Haber & Gratton, 1994; McDonald, 2013; Walker, 1990). Retirement and its accompanying stereotypes have been used as a tool for the management of the size and composition of the labor force contingent on the dictums of current markets in any given historical era. Ever-changing ideologies about older adults that extend from negative to positive ageism have been utilized by business, government, the public, and the media to support whatever justification is required in a particular era, with little thought to the harm perpetrated on older adults. Unfortunately, society has subscribed to these justifications en masse, including older adults themselves. In this article the ageism embedded in retirement is examined to make what is implicit explicit to social work practitioners and policymakers in the field of aging.

Article

Irwin Epstein and Stephen A. Kapp

This entry reviews agency-based research and the unique demands created by the organizational context where this activity resides. Three primary stakeholder groups are identified: administrators and program managers, supervisors, and direct service workers and clinicians. Possible uses of agency-based research by each of the respective stakeholder groups are described. Finally, the role of service consumers in agency-based research is discussed.

Article

Eric R. Kingson, Dana Bell, and Sarah Shive

This entry examines why our nation’s Social Security system was built, what it does, and what must be done to maintain and improve this foundational system for current and future generations. After a discussion of the social insurance approach to economic security and its underlying principles and values, the evolution of America’s Social Security system is reviewed—beginning with the enactment of the Social Security Act of 1935, through its incremental development, to the changed politics of Social Security since the mid-1990s. Next, program benefits and financing are described and contemporary challenges and related policy options are identified, in terms of both the program’s projected shortfall and the public’s need for expanded retirement, disability, and survivorship protections. The entry concludes by noting that social workers have an important role to play in shaping Social Security’s future.

Article

Edward J. Mullen, Jennifer L. Bellamy, and Sarah E. Bledsoe

This entry describes best practices as these are used in social work. The term best practices originated in the organizational management literature in the context of performance measurement and quality improvement where best practices are defined as the preferred technique or approach for achieving a valued outcome. Identification of best practices requires measurement, benchmarking, and identification of processes that result in better outcomes. The identification of best practices requires that organizations put in place quality data collection systems, quality improvement processes, and methods for analyzing and benchmarking pooled provider data. Through this process, organizational learning and organizational performance can be improved.

Article

Marcus Lam and Helmut K. Anheier

Foundations are private institutions for public benefit. With a long history that reaches back to antiquity, inside the United States and globally, foundations are a growing organizational form that policy makers increasingly view with both potential (as a source of private funds to complement government services) and caution (given their autonomy and low level of accountability). Alongside the rise in commerce and finance, foundations experienced an initial growth period in the late Middle Ages and a second in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, following the Industrial Revolution. Political stability, an increase in demand for social, educational, and cultural services of all kinds, and economic prosperity are certainly significant factors behind this growth. Since the dawn of the 21st century, foundations have remained the primary legal structure through which newly minted and emerging wealthy individuals practice their philanthropy. The foundation form, or some similar iteration, is growing not just in many Western democratic countries but even in communist and other political regimes such as China and Russia. The reason for this growth is the way in which foundations have been envisioned as instruments of welfare state reform in the broadest sense. This growth implies a more important role for foundations as providers of relief to those most in need, protectors of traditional institutions and the status quo, and, to a lesser extent, as change agents. In particular, this is apparent among the “new philanthropists” of the 21st century, drawn from technology entrepreneurs, who are more actively engaged in public policy.

Article

Laura Lein

Child care services, enabling parents to commit themselves to paid employment while providing a supervised environment for their children, have a long and complex history in the United States. Child care services can provide children with educational and other advantages, as well as custodial care. In fact, the United States has multiple kinds of services providing child care and early childhood education. Publicly funded services have concentrated on care for impoverished children and those facing other risks or disadvantages, but many of these children and their families remain unserved because of gaps in programs and lack of support for subsidies, while other families purchase the services they need.

Article

Community macro practice is one of three spheres of macro social work practice along with human services management and policy practice. The historical context on macro practice and community practice since the Council on Social Work Education first adopted competency-based professional education through its Education Policies and Accreditation Standards in 2008 is important to appreciate how macro practice competencies have evolved. It is also salient to understand how the Association of Community Organization and Social Action (ACOSA) has been at the forefront of developing macro practice and, especially, community practice competencies, and it these efforts present the most current framework of community macro practice competencies entailed in ACOSA’s Community Practice Certificate partnership program with schools of social work.

Article

Anne Williford and Marie Villescas-Zamzow

This article offers an introduction to macro social work practice interventions. Specifically, it seeks to: (a) identify the difference between direct service (micro) and macro practice; (b) describe historical and contemporary foundations for macro practice; (c) establish a connection between macro practice and core social work values; (d) describe specific examples of macro social work practice using 21st-century social justice issues as exemplars; and (e) identify roles needed for macro social work practice. This article emphasizes the need for macro social work practice to create much needed change in the areas of social, environmental, and economic justice. It will examine the trend in social work that has increasingly placed emphasis and value on micro practice, which has marginalized macro-level social work as a result. Society continues to confront seemingly intractable social justice issues and is, in the early 21st century, experiencing a critical reckoning of how systems of oppression continue to exact violence against vulnerable populations. This article uses examples of social, environmental, and economic justice issues with specific recommendations on how to adopt an anti-oppressive macro practice framework.

Article

John Halloran and Fred Wulczyn

Extending social work’s familiarity with the metaphorical use of systems concepts, formal systems science enables macro social workers pathways of understanding and description of system-level behavior. Systems, in a formal sense, are coherently organized and interconnected sets of parts that, when operating together, perform a function. The behaviors of complex systems are not reducible to the behavior of individual components, and behaviors of systems are unique to the system as a whole. We introduce a formal approach to systems thinking, provide an overview of central concepts in complex systems analysis, and conclude with an in-depth example of an agent-based simulation model, which puts complex systems thinking into action in a research and practice context.

Article

Nonprofit organizations serve a wide variety of functions and play a particularly important role in providing needed social services in the United States. This entry begins by exploring the roles and origins of the nonprofit sector, reporting on its current scope and scale, and reviewing federal regulations governing nonprofit organizations. Special attention is then given to understanding human service organizations and their financing, including the implications of changing government-nonprofit relationships. Four additional issues facing the sector—accountability, technology, political participation, and diversity, as well as recommendations for meeting future challenges, are also discussed.

Article

Human service corporations provide opportunities that social workers are just beginning to recognize. Although the commercial provision of services has negative features, expansion of the for-profit sector bodes well for those professionals willing to consider it as a practice setting. Corporations have become prominent service providers in hospital management, nursing home care, managed care, child care, welfare, and corrections. Because for-profit firms are often more competitive than nonprofit agencies, privatization is likely to contribute to corporatization human services.

Article

As environmental and organizational influences drive coalitions, shared service agreements, mergers, and other interorganizational alliances among health and human service organizations, social workers are frequently vital contributors. Interorganizational work is contextualized by reviewing its theoretical underpinnings, describing historical development, and discussing issues of language and definition. The wide range of relationships and corresponding structural options being implemented are explored. Sector-wide trends and their implications for interorganizational work are considered along with key factors for success and the growing role evaluation plays in promoting positive impact.

Article

Private independent practice (known historically as private practice) is a growing segment of the social work profession. Social workers entering this context are providing a range of services, including clinical and nonclinical. Major considerations for establishing, maintaining, and marketing a successful and ethical private independent practice will be discussed. Existing tensions and challenges in the social work profession and in the field of social work education will be briefly examined. Future directions for private independent practice of social work will be explored.

Article

Hillel Schmid and Yeheskel “Zeke” Hasenfeld

Contracting out of social services is defined as the purchase of services by government agencies from for-profit and nonprofit organizations. It has a long history beginning with the English Poor Law of 1723 and becoming a major policy during Reagan's administration. Both the advantages and shortcomings of contracting out are described and analyzed. The effects on providers' accountability to government and clients and the implications for social work practice and ethics are discussed. Special emphasis is given to the social workers' dilemma facing a dual loyalty to contractor–employer on the one hand and to clients on the other.

Article

Social workers are well trained to respond to natural and man-made disasters. They use their strengths-based perspective to assist individuals, families, organizations, and communities after a disaster. They are called on to assess the situation, provide counseling and support, and link affected individuals to resources. However, they may not think about preparing for disasters in their own organization or practice, including workplace safety. This article discusses why social workers need to create a business disaster preparedness plan, describes potential hazards, identifies workplace safety guidelines and patient safety standards, explains how to establish a disaster preparedness plan for business continuity, and examines the idea of ethical responsibility.

Article

Implementation research seeks to inform how to deliver evidence-based interventions, programs, and policies in real-world settings so their benefits can be realized and sustained. The ultimate aim of implementation research is building a base of evidence about the most effective processes and strategies for improving service delivery. Implementation research builds upon effectiveness research and then seeks to discover how to use specific implementation strategies and move those interventions into specific settings, extending their availability, reach, and benefits to clients and communities. This entry provides an overview of implementation research as a component of research translation and defines key terms, including implementation outcomes and implementation strategies, as well as an overview of guiding theories and models and methodological issues including variable measurement, research design, and stakeholder engagement.

Article

Sheila H. Akabas

Employee assistance programs (EAPs), or membership assistance programs when sponsored by unions, are designed to improve worker productivity and motivation by responding to problems that workers experience which interfere with job performance and satisfaction. Now a ubiquitous characteristic of American workplaces, the programs are largely staffed by social workers. This entry discusses their historic development, extent, scope, structure, how they are perceived and utilized by different racial and gender populations, and the dilemmas and challenges facing EAPs as they try to define their role, function, and best practices amid emerging trends in the world of work.

Article

Christina L. Erickson

Environmental justice in social work is the study and practice of assuring all people are protected from environmental burdens and are able to live, work, learn, and play in safe and healthy communities. Reducing the burdens and increasing the benefits of nature and human-made infrastructures are important social work efforts toward environmental justice. Awareness of environmental injustices followed the social movements of Civil Rights, recognition of environmental degradations, and efforts to save large swaths of land and endangered species in the Wilderness Act. Environmental justice is intertwined with social and economic justice, and the pursuit engages social workers in local to international struggles for access to nature’s benefits, and freedom from hazards that are shielded from people who are economically wealthy. Moreover, environmental justice calls wealthy individuals and communities to realign resource consumption to reduce environmental degradation and increase environmental sustainability.

Article

Erick G. Guerrero, Tenie Khachikian, and Murali Nair

Evidence-based macro practices (EBMPs) rely on the best available evidence to promote system change. The field of social work needs to develop, implement, and disseminate EBMPs to respond to increasing public accountability to deliver cost-effective interventions that promote health and well-being among vulnerable populations. There are several evidence-based macro practices at the community and organizational levels that have potential to improve the effectiveness of social work practice. These EBMPs, their components, and the critical role they play in improving interventions and enacting change at a macro level are important. Building science in social work, informing practice in the 21st century, and effectively responding to system-wide challenges (e.g., epidemics, institutional racism, growing inequality) that disproportionally impact the health and well-being of the most vulnerable members of our society are important areas to explore.