Ann Rosegrant Alvarez
Despite many debates about the meaning and implications of multiculturalism, it remains an important concept within social work and other professional and academic disciplines. The basic idea of multiculturalism in social work education is that social work students need to learn to work effectively with people from many different cultures, and that this will have a positive impact on their social work practice and on outcomes for those with whom they work. It has been linked to issues of power, oppression, and social change. Future directions include focus on intersectionality and continued development of the implementation and implications of multiculturalism within social work education.
David L. Strug
This entry discusses the development of social work in Cuba since the revolution of 1959. It describes a community-oriented social work initiative created by the government in 2000 to identify vulnerable populations and to address their needs for support services. It also discusses a social work educational initiative begun at the University Havana in 1997. Together these two initiatives transformed social work in Cuba. This entry also notes that Cuba implemented major economic reforms in 2008 and it discusses the relationship of these reforms to the closure in 2011 of the two social work initiatives noted above. How social work will develop in Cuba in the future is unclear. Information for this entry comes from research the writer has conducted on the development of social work in Cuba over the past decade and from a review of the relevant literature.
Cyndy Baskin and Danielle Sinclair
This article explores social work with Indigenous Peoples in Canada, beginning with the history of colonization and the role this profession played, as well as outlining promising approaches to helping based on Indigenous worldviews and the challenges of putting these into practice.
Johnny S. Kim
In social work practice, the strengths perspective has emerged as an alternative to the more common pathology-oriented approach to helping clients. Instead of focusing on clients' problems and deficits, the strengths perspective centers on clients' abilities, talents, and resources. The social worker practicing from this approach concentrates wholly on identifying and eliciting the client's strengths and assets in assisting them with their problems and goals (Saleebey, 2006). This entry discusses the historical development of the strengths perspective, practice techniques, current applications, and philosophical distinctiveness.
The strengths perspective is a paradigmatic shift away from problem-focused approaches to social work practice. The strengths perspective focuses not on the defectiveness of the client system in an attempt to undo these problems but on the inherent strengths, competencies, and resiliency that are the building blocks of a better future. It does not ignore pain and suffering but asks how people make it under such difficult times and builds on those amazing capacities. It assumes the expertise of the client and privileges client knowledge and capabilities. Diversity, self-determination, empowerment, and social justice are inherent in this practice.
Being undocumented does not mean being without ties to one’s host society: undocumented immigrants might work and have family and friends; they might be active in community life, etc. However, due to a lack of formal status, they are vulnerable to detention and deportation. Instead of vilifying migrants for their irregular situation, the article sees immigration controls as a source of unjust policies and practices. Immigrant detention means administrative imprisonment without the normal due process safeguards commonly demanded in liberal democracies. Its consequences are separated families and broken individuals. Social work is seen as a profession developing ethical considerations and arguments to advocate for the right to belong to an organized political community, the right to social security, and the right to personal liberties being applicable to all people, regardless of their immigration status.
Kathryn P. Alessandria
Research on White ethnics is lacking in the diversity literature; when included, they are used as the comparison for other ethnic groups. Diversity exists among White ethnics; consequences of ignoring these differences include culturally insensitive and inappropriate treatment, misunderstanding clients, and poor therapeutic alliances. The heterogeneity within the White ethnic population and strategies for gaining cultural information and demonstrating cross-cultural effectiveness are discussed.