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Article

Stephen H. Gorin, Julie S. Darnell, and Heidi L. Allen

This entry describes the development and key provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), which instituted a major overhaul of the U.S. health system, much of which took effect in 2014. The key provisions of the ACA included an individual mandate to purchase insurance, an employer mandate to offer coverage to most workers, an expansion of Medicaid to all persons below 138 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL), minimum benefit standards, elimination of preexisting condition exclusions, and reforms to improve health-care quality and lower costs. This historic legislation has deep roots in U.S. history and represents the culmination of a century-long effort to expand health care and mental health coverage to all citizens.

Article

This entry explores key definitions, causes, and characteristics of slums in the global arena, along with the types of social work practice and general community development approaches being used to catalyze action to decrease the prevalence of slums. Core strategies include using planning efforts that prioritize input from people who live in slums, creating affordable housing, and otherwise transitioning urban slums into vibrant communities. Concluding thoughts and further considerations for social work practice are offered.

Article

Colita Nichols Fairfax

Afrocentric social work is a concept and praxis approach applicable in environmental and global settings where people of African descent are located. Using concept analysis as a methodology, this article explores Afrocentric social work theory and its applicability in the social sciences. Concept analysis is an examination of a thought or theory with the intent to create a more concise operational definition. Afrocentric social work not only is applicable to racial and social justice issues, it also is applicable to intellectual and philosophical discourses of social work, which has largely ignored Afrocentric social work as a viable theory and philosophical canon. The Walker and Avant method of concept analysis is employed in this article to provide a systemic discourse to define the attributes of Afrocentric social work, as well as its structural elements that scholars and practitioners utilize as a theory and praxis application.

Article

Steve Burghardt, Joseph Dibenedetto, and Bobbie Sackman

As baby boomers enter their later years, it has become apparent that ageism is a primary cause of much of the social marginalization and economic inequity experienced by older people. It is thus important to understand that ageism has both structural as well as cultural causes that require collective mobilization to correct. As such, anti-ageism and the fight for age justice fit within the intersectional movements of the 21st century seeking systemic change. This attention to systemic issues of ageism and the call for collective forms of action and organizing have become the foundation for an age justice movement. Therefore, an age justice organizing approach to the problems of older Americans is necessary and its solutions to aging-related problems are similar to solutions in other social justice movements. The historical context of aging and ageism informs present models of age justice organizing and issues addressed in age activism. For example, older workers have experienced workplace discrimination, and in the early COVID-19 pandemic, older people were marginalized. Looking to the future, an age justice framework that consistently addresses ageism as the systemic issue it is can be developed in micro, mezzo, and macro settings for all social workers and the older people with whom they work.

Article

Shetal Vohra-Gupta and Rowena Fong

This entry Structural racism exists among Asian American communities and affects the family members residing in them. Therefore it is necessary to describe the contexts to understand cultural values and their role in the underpinnings of daily life in Asian American communities. While there is great diversity in Asian American populations, there are still stereotypes about Asian Americans being the model minority or passive victims. Racism is still a problem within Asian American communities as policies and macro level practices are subtle or even blatant in their discriminatory tendencies, impacts, and consequences. With the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, racial profiling was reported toward Chinese Americans living in the United States who were not in China when the pandemic started in 2019. Addressing racism and understanding its biased tenets are very important to stop oppressive attitudes and discriminatory practices. Used in legal studies and education, critical race theory (CRT) allows an examination of racism from a structural racism lens in macro social work practice. A descendent of CRT, AsianCrit theory looks at Asian American populations with a critical lens toward the permanence of racism, color blindness, counter storytelling, intersectionality, historical and contemporary contexts, and commitment to social justice. Understanding how these macro systems impact individual racist attitudes and actions is important to know for future social justice implications for practice, policy, and research with this population.

Article

Laura Lein, Jennifer Romich, Trina R. Williams Shanks, and Dominique Crump

The Social Work Grand Challenge to reduce economic inequality is one of 13 Grand Challenges guiding future practice, research, and education. This article on the Grand Challenge to reduce extreme economic inequality documents the problem, probes the mechanisms by which inequality continues and deepens, and proposes approaches for addressing this problem so interwoven into our economy and society. This article describes economic inequality in the U.S. context as well as social work–oriented responses. It briefly compares the inequality level of the U.S. with that of other countries. It explores the distinctions between poverty and economic inequality and the particular ways in which economic inequality is maintained and grows in the U.S. It also explores the kinds of policy and program initiatives addressing this grand challenge, the barriers to and potential benefits of such ideas, and the roles for social workers and the social work profession in reducing extreme economic inequality in our society.

Article

Michael Sherraden, Lissa Johnson, Margaret M. Clancy, Sondra G. Beverly, Margaret Sherrard Sherraden, Mark Schreiner, William Elliott, Trina R. Williams Shanks, Deborah Adams, Jami Curley, Jin Huang, Michal Grinstein-Weiss, Yunju Nam, Min Zhan, and Chang-Keun Han

Since 1991, a new policy discussion has arisen in the United States and other countries, focusing on building assets as a complement to traditional social policy based on income. In fact, asset-based policy with large public subsidies already existed (and still exists) in the United States. But the policy is regressive, benefiting the rich far more than the poor. The goal should be a universal, progressive, and lifelong asset-based policy. One promising pathway may be child development accounts (CDAs) beginning at birth, with greater public deposits for the poorest children. If all children had an account, then eventually this could grow into a universal public policy across the life course.

Article

M. Jenise Comer and Joyce A. Bell

The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to the regulation of social work practice. The Association was created to protect clients and client systems from harm caused by incompetent, unethical, or unlicensed social work practice. The primary and most important responsibility of ASWB is to develop and maintain a national exam that is valid, reliable, and legally defensible. The Association contracts with a test vendor to administer the exam in an identical, secure environment to social work candidates for licensure in the United States, Canada, the U.S. Virgin Island, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the District of Columbia. Accomplishing the task of providing a reliable and valid exam involves a complex process of recruiting and training. The volunteers and staff are competent to complete the arduous task of constructing and reviewing different forms of the exam for each level of licensure. The test vendor and a consulting psychometrician provide supervision and analysis of test data to confirm the test performs at or above industry standards for a high stakes exam, which determines entry to practice based on a passing score. ASWB staff members also engage in several activities that support state and provincial boards to advance regulation and safe practice. The purpose, mission, and history of ASWB will be presented in detail, along with focused attention on the exam and additional services provided to the regulatory community. Future issues will identify the Board of Director’s 2019 Strategic plan. Opportunities, challenges, and threats to professional regulation include attention to international social work practice regulation, license mobility, and deregulation.

Article

This article presents introductory information on asylum seekers, refugees, and immigrants in the United States, including distinctions among them, major regions of origin, demographic, and socioeconomic characteristics, challenges in social, economic, and cultural adaptation, and best practices for social work with these populations.

Article

Black people number about 46.8 million or 14% of the U.S. population. Throughout U.S. history, regardless of social class, Black people have had to remain cognizant of their race. The COVID-19 pandemic and police shootings of unarmed Black people have revealed that American racism toward Blacks is as virulent today as it has always been. Because of purposeful structural inequality, Black people in America suffer disproportionately in every sector of human activity. They are still facing social issues such as racism, substance abuse, mass incarceration, poverty, police brutality and police murder, infant mortality that is twice as high as among whites, residential segregation, racial profiling, and discrimination. And yet the strengths of the Black community have allowed it to thrive amid these arduous circumstances.

Article

Mildred Delozia and Charles M. S. Birore

Black Lives Matter (BLM), which led to the Black Lives Matter movement (BLMM), has been described as a movement with a global following. The movement is aligned with the social work profession’s purpose and values. The social work profession is a human rights profession and has a history of involvement with movements, beginning with the settlement house movement in the late 19th century. The BLMM frames its narrative based on human rights and espouses an agenda that calls out injustice in all facets of social justice. Therefore, a central aim is to understand the BLMM from multiple perspectives. Definitions, theoretical perspectives, and types of social movements are presented, and then the framework of social movements is used to understand the BLMM. Finally, the BLMM is examined in relation to historical social movements, advocacy organizations, and criminal justice reform.

Article

Karen A. Johnson, Sherron Wilkes, and Tania Alameda-Lawson

A half-century since its emergence, capacity development and building (CDB) remains an important strategy in countering societal and structural inequities. Yet, despite its importance, 20 years into the 21st century, these schisms have sorely deepened. Macro levels of divide are juxtaposed against a backdrop of meaningful CDB efforts and gains, nationally and internationally. The social work profession and social work educators should critically examine the ways in which CDB has been enacted to date. CDB efforts have directly and indirectly created transformational and sustainable improvements at individual, organizational, community, and societal levels of practice. CDB strategies may further deepen their impact on unjust systems, community, and societal change and have implications for social work education, practice, and research.

Article

Usha Nayar, Priya Nayar, and Nidhi Mishra

The paper presents a global scenario of child labor by placing the issue in a historical context as well as comparing current work in the field. It specifically explains the psychosocial, political, and economic determinants of child labor and the prevalence of different forms as well as its magnitude in the different regions of the world. It features innovative programs and actions taken against child labor by local governments, civil societies, and United Nations bodies—mainly the International Labor Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund. The paper also highlights multilateral collaborations among the UN and other international agencies that stand against child labor in general and the employment of children in hazardous conditions. It illustrates the cooperation among local governments, civic organizations, and child-rights movements that have brought gradual changes over the decades toward ending child labor. Further, it suggests that social work, relevant professional schools, and associations working in various disciplines should be engaged in research-based advocacy and find innovative solutions to control child labor.

Article

Anne Blumenthal and Karen M. Staller

Through policies at the international, national, and state levels, social workers are often directed to respect children’s rights while also ensuring their best interests. The concept of children’s rights is diffuse and can be difficult to operationalize in practice. Children’s rights can refer to moral rights—basic human rights regardless of age or station—and legal rights, those awarded based on chronological age or level of maturity. They are conceptualized in three categories: protection rights (the right to be free from harm and exploitation), provision rights (the right to have their basic needs met), and participation rights (the right to have a say). Children’s rights can conflict with family autonomy, and state intervention in the United States is based on the common law doctrine of parens patriae. The United Nations’ (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most comprehensive statement of children’s rights to date and provides the framework for child-related policies in UN member countries, except the United States. In many cases, social workers are the formal and informal implementation arm of children’s rights frameworks, ensuring that children are protected, provided for, and have participation.

Article

Christina Paddock, Debra Waters-Roman, and Jessica Borja

Child welfare services in the United States evolved from voluntary “child saving” efforts in the 19th century into a system of largely government-funded interventions aimed at identifying and protecting children from maltreatment, preserving the integrity of families that come to the attention of child welfare authorities, and finding permanent homes for children who cannot safely remain with their families. Since the 1970s, the federal government has played an increasing role in funding and creating the policy framework for child welfare practice. Today, communities of color receive a disproportionate amount of attention from child welfare services, yet often have access to fewer resources.

Article

John Paul Horn, Emily Bruce, and Toni Naccarato

In the United States, the child welfare system is composed of multiple services to keep children safe, either by strengthening family units, preventing maltreatment, or providing alternative care arrangements for children who are unable to safely remain at home. These services include child protection, family support and maintenance programs, reunification, and out-of-home care. Some children return safely to their families, but other children might never return home. Services for these youth might include adoption, guardianship, and/or transitional planning for youth exiting foster care to adulthood. Case-carrying social workers hold responsibility for assessing the case, making recommendations to the court, and preparing reports for parents, court officers, and sometimes for dependent children (based on their age). These individuals are professional social workers with graduate degrees in social work. Case aids or case assistants often provide support services for the case-carrying social worker.

Article

Martha Lucia Garcia and Yossi Korazim-Kőrösy

Citizen participation (CP) is at the root of democracy and the aspiration that everyone has an equal opportunity and voice in governance. For social workers, guaranteeing CP is a vehicle through which a core value of the profession’s code of ethics may be fulfilled, that is, to “enhance client’s capacity and opportunity to change and address their own needs”. A brief history of CP as well as the rationales for CP as a practice of social work are discussed. Regardless of the difficulties in achieving CP, it is a critical component to social work practice, that enable social workers to fulfill the ethical commitment of inclusion, social justice and equity. A framework or road map for social work practitioners embarking on a journey of ethical practice, is provided. While the focus is on practice examples in the United States, the democratic goals of inclusion and empowerment of marginalized and traditionally oppressed communities are global.

Article

Jennifer C. Greenfield, Heather Arnold-Renicker, and Amanda Moore McBride

Civic engagement is the backbone of the social work profession. Through our civic mission, we have long organized and empowered citizens in common pursuits to address social, economic, and political conditions, although this mission may conflict with social workers’ roles in maintaining and implementing systems of oppression and social control. In the United States, social and political engagement are receiving increased attention, particularly as emerging research demonstrates a range of effects for participants, their communities, and the broader society. The challenge for social work is to increase the capacity of communities and the nonprofit sector to promote and maximize engagement, especially among historically oppressed and disenfranchised individuals, through theory-driven, evidence-based interventions, while also ensuring that these efforts center the goals, expertise, and voices of those who are marginalized and minoritized.

Article

Tanya Smith Brice, Denise McLane-Davison, and Tyler A. Brice

Civil rights is the protection of citizens from infringement by governmental entities and the extension of basic rights. Civil rights are based on citizenship status. The 14th Amendment establishes U.S. citizenship that has been extended throughout history to different groups. Civil rights legislation is grounded in this question of citizenship. As social workers, it is important that we understand this relationship and advocate to continue broadening the constitutional promise of “equal protection under the laws” to all who reside within the United States.

Article

Jocelyn Clare R. Hermoso and Carmen Luca Sugawara

The connection between macro social work practice and civil society is inextricable. Macro practice focuses on forming and strengthening people’s organizations, communities, and other collectivities that make up the structure and foundation of civil society, defined as the sphere outside of the state and market where people can exercise their right to participate in decision-making on political, social, and other matters that affect their lives. Working with civil society can compensate for some of the limitations of working within state institutions. Civil society’s potential and ability to serve as an arena for realizing individual and community well-being, human rights, and social justice warrant positioning it on equal footing as the state as an area of practice for the social work profession.