Elizabeth A. Mulroy
Current approaches to community needs assessments should reflect the changing nature of communities themselves and new thinking relative to their assessment. First, geographically bounded communities, neighborhoods, cities, and regions have been affected by the external forces of economic globalization with its transnational flow of capital, outsourcing of jobs, and shifting demographics of immigration and refugee resettlement. Second, as Kretzmann and McKnight made clear in 1993, assessing only needs is not enough; it results in an incomplete picture of a community. An assessment should also be conducted through the lens of strengths so that community residents can articulate what they perceive the assets to be and how they propose to use the assets to shore up the deficits. Third, local, national, and international community building endeavors by nonprofit organizations have introduced the concept of assets-building into the community practice domain. The purpose is to increase the social capital and social capacity of communities in the long term through the empowerment of local residents via improved schools and effective community-level social networks and institutions.
Jacqueline Mondros and Lee Staples
The authors review the history of community organization, both within and outside social work, describe the various sociological and social psychological theories that inform organizing approaches, and summarize conflict and consensus models in use in the early 21st century. We review the constituencies, issues, and venues that animate contemporary organizing efforts and indicate demographic trends in aging, immigration, diversity, and the labor force that suggest new opportunities for collective action. Finally, the authors discuss dramatic increases in organizing for environmental justice, immigrant rights, and youth-led initiatives, as well as new activities involving information technology, electoral organizing, and community–labor coalitions.
This entry discusses community planning in the context of community social work. Distinctions are made between community planning as a rational comprehensive process of the planning discipline, and the process of community planning in community social work. Community planning is defined as a process of participatory and inclusive organized social change, directed toward community empowerment, building community, and developing members’ capacities to take part in democratic decision making. A three-dimensional model of empowering community planning is presented and discussed. The model focuses on the tasks of community social work in the planning process, and the empowering outcomes they can enable.
Neil B. Guterman and Muhammad Haj-Yahia
Community violence represents a widespread concern receiving increasing attention by social workers. This article considers the problem of community violence and our present understanding of its extent and consequences. Evidence is growing that identifies risk and protective factors linked with community violence exposure, particularly those of a demographic nature. At present early evidence points to potentially helpful ameliorative and preventive strategies for social workers to consider at the micro and macro levels.
Sung Sil L. Sohng
Community-based participatory research (CBPR) embraces a partnership approach to research that equitably involves community members, organizational representatives, and researchers in all aspects of the research process. CBPR begins with a research topic of importance to the community and has the aim of combining knowledge with action and achieving social change. It is community based in the sense that community members become part of the research team and researchers become engaged in the activities of the community. Community–researcher partnerships allow for a blending of values and expertise, promoting co-learning and capacity building among all partners, and integrating and achieving a balance between research and action for the mutual benefit of all partners. Various terms have been used to describe this research, including participatory research, action research, participatory action research, empowerment research, collaborative research, anti-oppressive research, and feminist research.
Calvin L. Streeter
One of the hallmarks of social work is its recognition that people grow and mature in a social context. Communities are one of the many social systems that touch people's lives and shape their individual and group identity. A conceptual overview of community is presented. Social systems, ecological systems, and power/conflict are presented as alternative frameworks for understanding how the social interaction between individuals, groups, and social institutions are patterned within the community. Virtual community is reviewed as a recent phenomenon that may have implications for community in modern society.
Dorothy N. Gamble and Marie Weil
Major social changes resulting from globalization, the increase in multicultural societies, and growing concerns for human rights, especially for women and girls, will affect all community practice in this century. Community-practice processes—organizing, planning, sustainable development, and progressive social change—are challenged by these trends and the ethical dilemmas they pose. Eight distinct models of community-practice intervention are described with examples from around the globe. The values and ethics that ground community-practice interventions are drawn from international and national literature. Model applications are identified for work with groups, urban and rural communities, organizations and coalitions, and in advocacy and leadership for social justice and human rights.
Charles E. Lewis Jr.
The Congressional Social Work Caucus is a bicameral authorized Congressional Member Organization (CMO) founded by former Congressman Edolphus “Ed” Towns In November 2010 during the 110th Congress. The mission of the caucus is to provide a platform in Congress that will allow social workers to engage the federal government. The Social Work Caucus consists of members of the House of Representative and the U.S. Senate who are professional social workers or who generally support the ideals, principles, and issues germane to the social work profession. Because of House Ethic rules, CMOs are prohibited from possessing resources of its own and must depend on the office budgets of its members. Consequently, the Social Work Caucus participated in a number of congressional briefings and seminars in conjunction with other social work organizations such as the National Association of Social Worker (NASW), the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), and the Social for Social Work and Research (SSWR). These public events covered a wide range of topics such as social workers roles in the Affordable Care Act, military social work, funding for mental health research, and trauma-based practice in child welfare.
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.
Continuing education (CE) refers to an array of opportunities by which professionals can augment existing knowledge and skills. CE is essential for professional competence, career development, and compliance with licensing rules and other regulations. CE is offered through a variety of auspices, methods, and venues. Advances in instructional technology and electronic communication have further expanded access to CE opportunities. Ongoing challenges in CE include strategies for assuring quality in CE programming and adequately evaluating skill and knowledge acquisition.