Essay Example on Social Work Profession and Education History








Social Work Profession and Education History The profession of social work began to develop near the end of nineteenth century stemming from two social welfare movements Charity Organization Societies COS and settlement houses Spetch Courtney 1994 The foundation of the social workers scope of practice within COS and settlement houses were those of caseworker and advocate Both of these social movements called for the social political and economic rights of the working man and later the working woman Spetch Courtney 1994 p 71 Charity Organization Societies COS primary focus were to eliminate indiscriminate giving and thoroughly screen applicants requesting assistance The COS would then connect applicants who were found truly in need to the appropriate charity to address their situation Specht Courtney 1994 In the social work and welfare community COS became the first institutional effort in approaching the needs of the poor in a methodical way Well known for her work with COS Mary Richmond implemented the framework of helping the person in the situation Spetch Courtney 1994 p 76 which is now framed as modern day social systems theory Richmond recognized that to truly begin to assist an individual the worker had to be able to understand the person fully as well as connect them to their situation Richmond s work lends to the foundation of social casework a foundation used today with underserved and vulnerable populations Settlement houses begun in England provided residence for young men and women to establish their professional and personal lives in working class neighborhoods

The men and women of the settlement house movement were of the opinion that by emerging themselves in the community they served they would influence the cultural moral and intellectual level of the community Speech Courtney 1994 p 81 In 1889 Jane Addams the recognized leader of settlement houses opened the Hull House in Chicago which influenced incredible growth and support within underserved communities Through the work in settlement houses Adams influenced the field of social work to recognize that poor and working class neighborhoods had strength in cultural and social connections which were necessary to acknowledge while working in the community Speech Courtney 1994 In line with the timing of the social welfare movement schools of social work began to take form as a recognized academic discipline Among the first school of social work founded by Simmons and Harvard colleges the Boston School of Social Work was established in 1904 Three years later in 1907 the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy was founded Netting Kettner McMurtry 1998 As 1920 approached there were just under 20 schools of social work which led to the development of the American Association of Professional Schools of Social Work Patterson 1994 Within these institutions of higher learning social work students learned through the case study method focusing on individual problems and diagnosis It was at this time that the environmental influences such as the impact of community of one's situation started to become less of a focus in social work education Bremmer 1964 Spetch Courtney 1994

The stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression began to bring the commitment of social work back to larger social needs such as poverty while taking a step back from an individualized social work focus Payne 2005 As the New Deal was established the social work profession shifted from private and voluntary agencies to work within government systems With the Social Security Act of 1935 the social work profession surged to 80 000 doublings in a ten-year timeframe bringing about better salaries and need for further educational standards Glicken 2011 As the social work profession entered into the 1940s and 1950s professional organizations began to materialize such as the Council of Social Work Education CSWE in 1952 and the National Association of Social Workers NASW in 1955 

With the development of these professional organizations schools of social work and the social work profession began to shift again this time away from larger societal needs to programs serving middle class white individuals Glicken 2011 As the decades continued the social work profession waxed and waned between a macro led focus to a microlens of practice By the 1980s the political focus started to move towards privatization of public programs which led to unstable backing for traditional social work programs In the 1990s professional social workers providing services within governmental welfare programs found their jobs threatened as the increase for privatization of services was supported Glicken 2011 The history of the social work profession reveals an increase in macro-level social work such as policy reform and advocacy for underserved communities and populations when there is support for increased federal programs However when a more conservative approach is in the political forefront the social work profession retreats taking with it concentrated focus on poverty and social reform Payne 2005 Weiss Welbourne

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