Friday, October 2, 2020

Social Work As A Profession

Social work

Social Work As A Profession 

Social Work, work education in the United States was formalized a little more than one century ago, when the first lectures to persons working with the poor were offered at the School of Social Economics, in Chicago, Illinois. Social Work, Still, as L. Diane Bernard, former Dean of the College of Social Work at Florida State University wrote, “the sick, indigent, orphaned, elderly and destitute have been with us from the start, …(and the) treatment of those in need ranged from cruel to humane depending on the qualities and capacities of those responsible” for addressing their needs (1995: 7). Social Work, As the American colonies became established and began to prosper, the social contexts and problems faced by their citizens also became more complex. Social Work, Bernard provides an excellent summary of both the context of and response to these problems in the early history of the U.S. Barker’s (1999) Milestones highlight some of the key steps in the evolution of social welfare and social work in what would become the United States of America.

• 1624: Virginia Colony institutes laws providing for the needs of disabled soldiers and sailors.

•1642: Plymouth Colony, based on the Elizabethan Poor Law, enacts the first such legislation in the “New World”.

•1650: The “Protestant Work Ethic”, emphasizing self-discipline, frugality, and hard work becomes prominent, justifying those who adopted its view to look down upon people who are unemployed or dependent on others.

•1692: Massachusetts introduces indentured servitude, providing that homeless children could be placed with other families who could require them to work for a period of time to pay for their care.

•1776: The U.S. Declaration of Independence is signed, promoting freedom for everyone but the slaves.

•1787: The U.S. Constitution is adopted to “promote the general welfare”, moving social welfare into American political discourse.

•1813: Child labor laws are passed in Connecticut, requiring that factory owners teach reading, writing, and arithmetic to children working for them.

•1830: The National Negro Conventions meet to begin discussions about civil rights, health, and welfare for people of color and women.

•1843: The New York Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor is established, and thereafter imitated in its emphases on abstaining from alcohol, becoming self-disciplined, and developing a work ethic as ways to end poverty.

•1848: Feminists meet to begin establishment of women’s rights to vote and receive equal opportunities for education and employment.  1870: Social Darwinism gains influence, supporting the view that poverty was a natural part of the human condition, and that helping the poor made them lazy.

•1874: The first Charity Organization Society is established, at first giving only advice, and not direct financial aid to the needy.

Charity Organization Societies (COS) were originally developed to bring order and organization to the extensive private and religious responses to the disadvantaged (Bernard, 1995). Social Work, The philosophy was to give everyone a chance to be able to stand on their own, with those requesting aid being classified by the volunteers as either deserving or undeserving, based on whether they were judged as being willing to help themselves. As has proven true over time in efforts to mount social work responses, it was often been the “economically fortunate who volunteered to ‘rehabilitate’ the poor through the power of personal influence” (1995: 8).

•1886: The first US settlement house, modeled on earlier efforts in the UK, is established with a goal of eliminating the distance between socioeconomic classes by locating housing for the poor in workingclass neighborhoods.

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