Paul H. Stuart
The social work profession originated in volunteer efforts to address the “social question,” the paradox of increasing poverty in an increasingly productive and prosperous economy, in Europe and North America during the late nineteenth century. By 1900, working for social betterment had become an occupation and social work achieved professional status by 1930. By 1920, social workers could be found in hospitals and public schools, as well as in child welfare agencies, family agencies, and settlement hoses. During the next decade, social work focused on the problems of children and families. As a result of efforts to conceptualize social work method, expand social work education programs, and develop a stable funding base for voluntary social service programs, social work achieved professional status by the 1930s. The Great Depression and World War II refocused professional concerns, as the crises of depression and war demanded the attention of social workers. After the war, mental health concerns became important as programs for veterans and the general public emphasized the provision of inpatient and outpatient mental health services. In the 1960s, social workers again confronted the problem of poverty. Since then, the number of social workers has grown even as the profession's influence on social welfare policy has waned.
June Gary Hopps and Tony B. Lowe
The profession addressed a panoply of social problems that grew larger in an ever-expanding geopolitical environment, where social equity or justice was often a remedial value. Social welfare institutions and programs, initially private and later both public and private, filled the societal void, bringing social care to the disadvantaged. Lay caregivers formed the foundation for a nascent, but now over 100 year old, profession. Growth was sustained for over 50 years from the 1930s to 1980s, when progressive thought was challenged with conservative ideology. The challenge for contemporary social welfare and a maturing social work profession is how to navigate a changing milieu, highlighted by complex human conditions, in the face of real and contrived shortages, increasing class stratification, political polarization, and heighten judicial scrutiny. Workforce realities—education, technology, and integration of new diverse practitioners throughout the practice continuum—which can address demanding fields (that is, aging, health, child welfare), focused on evidence to move the human condition forward.
Toby Weismiller and Tracy Whitaker
A profession’s ability to identify and predict its workforce capacity depends largely upon its understanding of labor-market trends and emerging service-delivery systems. Concerns about the adequacy of the future supply of the social work workforce are being driven by a number of factors, including trends in social work education and demographic shifts in the country. The stability and continuity of a social work workforce depends on the profession’s ability to attract new workers, agencies’ abilities to retain their staffs, and the larger society’s investment in this pool of workers and the clients they serve.
Julie Abramson and Laura R. Bronstein
Teams maximize the coordinated expertise of various professionals. Social work skills used with clients, especially contracting, monitoring team processes, managing conflict, creating a climate of openness, and developing and supporting group cohesion, need to be purposefully utilized in practice with teams. Social workers can improve team functioning by supporting families and clients as active team members and by addressing ethical issues, including confidentiality and the competence and ethics of team members. Although there is some outcome-based research on teams, more is needed. Emerging trends in this field include embedding the notion of teams in a wider web of collaborative activities, including those mandated by the Affordable Care Act, and giving attention to teams as a vital part of social work education.
Information technology (IT), which encompasses tools and prescribed actions, has begun to substantially impact social work, given 50 years of impressive developments. This entry looks at IT trends and their impact on society and social work. The trends covered concern rapid IT development, connectivity, globalization and outsourcing, intelligent applications and devices, centralization and distribution of power and control, and distance education. Issues and challenges for social work are also discussed.
John G. McNutt
Information technology has had a profound effect on social work practice with larger systems. These tools improve traditional practice and allow new forms of practice. This entry reviews the use of technology in macro social work practice. It examines the role of technology in social administration, community practice, and social policy practice; discusses current practice and tools and discusses the challenges faced in the use of technology in macro practice.
Online therapy is the delivery of supportive and therapeutic services over the Internet. Online therapy offers the advantages of convenience and increased access to services. Service delivery may be problematic due to ethical concerns and legal liability. Limited research supports the efficacy of online therapy for a variety of health and social concerns. Increased use of the Internet by consumers and human service agencies will likely see growing use of online therapy and require training for workers and development of new policies and procedures for online service delivery.
Jo Ann R. Coe Regan
The increased use of technology applications, particularly the Internet, has resulted in the rapid development of technology-supported learning environments to deliver higher education. This has begun to impact social work education as faculty struggle to meet the demands of their institutions to develop online courses, distance education programs, and distributed learning environments. This entry will provide an overview of current technology applications and how they are being used in social work education. Implications of using technology in social work education include educational quality issues, pedagogical, and philosophical concerns, as well as future trends and challenges will also be discussed.
David A. Patterson
Social workers across fields of practice now have a wide array of technology tools and applications for the conduct and augmentation of practice tasks. This entry is intended as a primer on information and communication technology computer hardware tools and software programs. It describes the essential features and practice utility of an array of information and communication technology hardware, including desktop and laptop computers, tablet computers, and smartphones. Software applications are described with a focus on their social work practice functionality in the capture or retrieval, analysis or synthesis, and presentation or dissemination of information. Described are many emerging Web-based applications with noteworthy practice significance.
Joe M. Schriver
This entry focuses on the transition to independent living process required of youth and young adults who are “aging out” of the foster care system. It addresses the multiple risks and challenges faced by young people who are aging out of care and those of young adults who have “aged out.” This entry addresses existing policies and programs intended to assist youth who are transitioning from care. Current research findings about the experience of these youth over time both prior to and after exiting foster care are presented. Finally, the unique risks and challenges faced by as well as existing resources for LGBTQ youth who are in the process of or who have aged out are presented as an exemplar of unique needs and experiences of youth from vulnerable populations. Attention is also given to the strengths and resiliency of many former foster care youth who successfully make the transition from foster care to independent living.