Lani V. Jones
This entry provides an overview of the life-span perspective focusing on biological developments and social tasks all of which are embedded in a larger sociocultural context from birth to old age within diverse environments, cultures, and historical eras. This section will also focus on how the life-span perspective succeeds traditional life course models that assume to be universal, sequential, and predictable. The life-span perspective of social work departs from approaches based on traditional models that are narrow and focuses on personal deficits, pointing instead to strengths, continued growth, and environmental resources for individuals, families, groups, and communities. Finally, this entry will discuss how the life-span perspective shows great promise for encompassing theory of human development for the purpose of expanding knowledge, promoting “best practice” service delivery, policy regulation and research to enhance the lives of people with whom social workers come into contact.
Cathleen A. Lewandowski
Infancy and young childhood are characterized by rapid cognitive, emotional, and physical development. Each year is marked by specific developmental tasks. Infants need positive parenting, a safe environment, and attention to their basic physical needs. A strong bond with caregivers is also necessary, as this lays the foundation for trust, allowing infants to explore their world. Many of the risk factors, such as prenatal exposure to alcohol and drugs, malnutrition, and abuse and neglect, can be remedied. Interventions such as home visiting, family leave, and nutrition programs are inexpensive and effective, and should receive more attention from social work.
Infancy and young childhood are the most crucial periods in a child's development. There is a dynamic and continuous interaction between biology and experience that shapes early human development. Human relationships are the building blocks of healthy development, and children are active participants in their own development.
Donna Harrington and Karen Castellanos-Brown
This article focuses on the early childhood years, from 2 to 5 years of age. There are over 12 million children in this age range in the United States, many of whom face a number of challenges. In this article we discuss cognitive, language, motor, and social development, including relevant theories and major language and motor developmental milestones. We also discuss several family and environmental factors that influence development, including attachment, parenting, working parents, and poverty.
School age children are negotiating numerous developmental tasks across distinct lines of development. Social workers recognize that this development is taking place within the context of culture and systems and are oriented toward assisting the most vulnerable members of society. Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are connected to later in life health risk behaviors and serious medical, mental health, and substance abuse problems. The social work profession is poised to work comprehensively in supporting healthy child development and intervening when development has been derailed by ACEs. This builds human capital, which is profitable to society.
David B. Miller and Sean Joe
The development period between the ages of 18–25 is called emerging adulthood. Emerging adulthood is characterized by transitions through developmental milestones that facilitate an individual's movement into traditional adulthood roles. During emerging adulthood, individuals acquire, or at least attempt to acquire, the dimensions of adulthood, for example, economic independence and residential stability. This entry highlights the theoretical foundation of emerging adulthood as well as current research and future research directions related to this developmental period.
Daphne S. Cain and Terri Combs-Orme
Parenting is a key part of social-work practice and research, particularly in the child welfare arena. Despite significant research and theory in other disciplines about the importance of the parent–child relationship to the quality of parenting, the focus of social work appears to lie in narrow goals such as the prevention of abuse and child placement and to employ interventions that lack significant evidence of effectiveness. This entry summarizes social-work practice and research in the area of parenting and reviews the state of the art overall in research and knowledge about parenting.
Valire Carr Copeland and Daniel Hyung Jik Lee
Social reform efforts of the settlement-house movement have provided, in part, the foundation for today’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau’s policies, programs, and services. Planning, implementing, and evaluating policies and programs that affect the health and well-being of mothers and children require a multidisciplinary approach. Social workers, whose skills encompass direct services, advocacy, planning and research, community development, and administration, have a critical role to play in improving the health outcomes of maternal and child populations.
The primary focus of the entry is service utilization. As background, the risks for and prevalence of childhood mental disorders are summarized. Then, the current children's mental health services system is described, including the role of nonspecialty sectors of care and informal support systems. Service use barriers and disparities, pathways to services, and strategies to increase service use are discussed. The conclusion notes other current issues in child mental health, including the need to implement evidence-based treatments.
Edward R. Canda and Sherry Warren
This entry provides an introduction to mindfulness as a therapeutic practice applied within social work, including in mental health and health settings. It describes and critiques mindfulness-based practices regarding definitions, history, current practices, best practices research, and ethical issues related to using evidence-based practices, acquiring competence, addressing social justice, and respecting diversity.
Arlene Bowers Andrews
This article reviews basic skills for conducting and using oral histories, summarizes ethical issues, presents examples relevant to social work, and suggests useful resources. For social workers, oral history can be a way to record the history of social change as well as a means of promoting social change. Oral history can honor, inform, raise consciousness, and motivate action. Oral histories are particularly relevant for historically excluded populations and those with oral traditions. Generating the history requires a thorough awareness of the narrator, the story, and the role of the listener as well as skillful interviewing, use of digital technology, and appropriate archiving.