North America is one of the world's richest regions, and both the United States and Canada are ranked in the top 10 of the United Nations Human Development Index. However, poverty and inequality, and in particular, child poverty continues to be a significant problem. Social workers in both countries provide a wide array of human services to a range of populations. Social work has developed into a mature profession but is currently struggling to meet the increasing demand for its services.
South America, a land of beauty, diversity, and socioeconomic disparity, is going through a profound identity search, redefining the government's role concerning the welfare of its people, and most important, reevaluating its relationship with the Global North. Within this context, social work has a strong commitment to work with the most vulnerable sectors of the population affected by structural adjustment programs.
Lynne M. Healy
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.
Nina L. Aronoff
This is an overview of interprofessional and partnered practice and how these are connected to and further the purposes of social work practice. This brief summary locates several models of collaborative practice in social work and also delineates the ways in which partnered practice provides an overarching paradigm that includes and also extends these approaches, describing a philosophy of practice that speaks to today's imperatives for change in the world.
Peter De Jong
Social work interviews are purposeful conversations between practitioners and clients, involving verbal and nonverbal communication. The basic skills are regularly used by social workers and reflect the field's major practice principles and the model of change employed by the practitioner. Competency-based forms of interviewing such as motivational and solution-focused interviewing are increasingly being used in direct and indirect practice. Additional research is needed on the outcomes of specific interviewing skills and how they are learned and transferred into practice.
James Woolever and Jim Kelly
The study of leadership has a long history in disciplines outside of social work. Theorists have struggled with a myriad of definitions of leadership, as well as trait, behavioral, and situational leadership models. They have identified leadership types from transformational and charismatic to motivational. There has been much speculation and some study of the traits and characteristics of effective leaders, as well as effective leadership styles, abilities, and practices. Social-work theorists have contributed to this field by identifying the critical and unique characteristics of social-work leadership, such as adherence to social-work norms and orientation to the needs of disadvantaged groups. In the early 21st century, social workers have begun to elaborate technologies for creating tomorrow’s leaders through practices such as formal training, mentoring, and peer networking. There has always been, and will be, a critical need for leadership in social-work endeavors. Leadership development can be viewed from two perspectives: the individual and organizational. From the individual perspective, the system begins with a critical assessment of the individual’s strengths and limitations, along with the opportunities and threats for professional growth. Ultimately, the organization is responsible for providing resources to enable individual development. The long-term goal is to implement a developmental mind-set throughout the organization. Leadership development must be intended for all employees, not just a select few. Both individual and organizational job performance are ultimately dependent on the leadership developmental structures embedded within each organizational unit. The issue at hand is designing and delivering leadership development programs that meet the leadership requirements for today’s complex, yet changing organizations.
Darlyne Bailey, Katrina M. Uhly, and Jessica Schaffner Wilen
The concept of leadership has evolved from focusing on innate abilities, to learned skills, to recognition that leadership is composed of both skills and abilities. Recently, theorists and practitioners have identified core elements of leadership for social-work organizations. These elements encourage social-work leaders to understand their organizations as living systems within an interdependent world and aid them in connecting humanistic intentions with effects. Acknowledgment and enactment of these competencies secure skills of communication and guidance needed for engagement in dialog and action. Social-work students and leaders can learn and hone these qualities in social-work programs, schools, and professional development opportunities for effective leadership in the field.
Amanda Duffy Randall and Donna DeAngelis
Social work regulation protects the public by establishing the qualifications that a professional must possess, by establishing a means of holding professionals accountable, and by having a system for the public to make complaints against allegedly incompetent or unethical practitioners and have them investigated and adjudicated. Certification also exists in various specialty areas of social work practice, as is a function of professional organizations versus governmental regulatory agencies.
Dorothy N. Gamble and Tracy M. Soska
“Macro practice” is identified as social work with communities, organizations, and inter- and intra-organizational groups engaged in progressive maintenance or change strategies. Social workers in macro practice engage in planning, organizing, development, collaboration, leadership, policy practice, advocacy, and evaluation. In 2010, the Association of Community Organization and Social Administration (ACOSA) defined competencies expected of people doing this work. ACOSA identified two separate but related sets of competencies: one based on the literature found in its sponsored journal, The Journal of Community Practice, and a second derived from 10 competencies elaborated on in the Council on Social Work Education’s (CSWE) Educational Policies and Accreditation Standards. Identifying competencies defines knowledge, values, judgments, and skills that social workers doing macro practice should address. Evaluating competencies can be determined by educational programs, service organizations that employ macro practitioners, or by the practitioners themselves as they move through their career in social work.
Michàlle E. Mor Barak and Dnika Jones Travis
Social work organizations depend on a well-trained and responsive workforce to provide quality services. Human resource management (HRM) refers to the design of formal systems that ensure effective and efficient use of human talent, and serves as a vehicle to accomplish organizational goals. Effective HRM requires applying the same person-in-environment value orientation that guides client services to managing human resources. Considering the complexity of HRM, we have developed an organizing framework focused on employee development, organizational effectiveness, and cross-cutting HRM issues. In today's economic, legal, cultural and technological environment that emphasizes accountability, effective management of human talent is critical.