James K. Whittaker

in Social Work

ISBN: 9780195389678
Published online June 2011 | | DOI:

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Since the inception of social work as a profession, children have constituted a key focus of interest for it. In fields of practice such as child welfare, child mental health, school social work, juvenile justice, and maternal and child health, social workers have played significant roles in the design, delivery, and evaluation of core services. Often and particularly for those children requiring state intervention, social workers are at the critical juncture of legal, social, and health service systems striving to maintain the delicate balance between providing family support and ensuring child safety. Underpinning these efforts is a complex and growing body of developmental research and theory informing the field’s understanding of the role of proximate and distal environments in influencing the life course of children toward beneficial or adverse developmental outcomes. Estimates from the Child Trends Data Bank reflecting the latest US Census data report that there has been an increase in the child population of more than 50 percent since 1950, but the proportion of children in the overall population has been declining since the 1960s and is currently estimated at 25 percent. Tracking such data is critical for future educational, health, and social services planning. This entry will sample and draw on the diverse array of knowledge sources that the profession of social work utilizes in crafting policy and service plans for children and families: historical and literary sources, child population data, child development research, and child and family policy studies and services research.

Article.  5832 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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