The historical background of social welfare movements in the USA can be developed around to different periods and developments over the centuries. Here is an overview of some key milestones.
- Colonial Era (17th-18th centuries)
During the early colonial period, the vision of social welfare in the United States was largely impacted by the British Poor Laws, which highlighted the responsibility of local parishes to care for the poor, sick, and impoverished. However, these laws were not always effective in providing adequate support, and voluntary charitable organizations, often based on religious affiliations, played a significant role in assisting those in need.
- Early 19th Century:
The early 19th century saw the emergence of private charitable organizations known as “human societies” that provided relief to the poor, elderly, and orphaned. These organizations were often funded by wealthy individuals, and their focus was on addressing primary needs rather than implementing organized social welfare policies.
- The Civil War Era and Reconstruction (mid-19th century):
The Civil War and its aftermath highlighted the need for more organized social welfare efforts. The federal government began to play a role in veterans’ benefits and assistance, setting the stage for future federal involvement in social welfare.
- Progressive Era (late 19th to early 20th centuries):
During the Progressive Era, various social reform movements gained momentum. Social activists and reformers forced improvements in public health, education, and labor conditions. Progressive leaders such as Jane Addams, who co-founded Hull House in Chicago, supported for settlement houses to provide services and support to immigrant communities and the urban poor.
- Social Security Act of 1935:
One of the most significant milestones in the development of social welfare in the USA was the passage of the Social Security Act in 1935 during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency. This act established a broad social insurance program to provide economic security for the elderly, unemployed, and disabled. It introduced programs such as Old-Age Insurance (later known as Social Security), Unemployment Insurance, and Aid to Dependent Children (later replaced by Aid to Families with Dependent Children).
- Great Society and War on Poverty (1960s):
President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society industry in the 1960s aimed to manage poverty and racial injustice. The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 established various programs, including Job Corps, Head Start, and Legal Services, to combat poverty and provide educational and employment opportunities for disadvantaged individuals.
- Development of Social Welfare Programs:
Over the decades, different social welfare programs have been expanded and implemented, such as Medicaid (1965) to provide healthcare assistance to low-income individuals and families, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to fight food insecurity, and the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program to support nutrition for pregnant women and young children.
- Modern Social Welfare Challenges:
In recent times, the USA has faced new challenges in social welfare, such as managing income inequality, improving access to affordable healthcare, and tackling issues related to homelessness and meaning abuse.
It is essential to note that the development of social welfare activities in the USA has been made by political ideologies, economic conditions, and changing societal perspectives towards poverty and inequality. The system continues to evolve as the country wrestles with new social and economic issues.
The American Civil War was a notable armed battle it has a great background that took place in the United States from 1861 to 1865. It was a battle between the Northern states, known as the Union, and the Southern states, comprehended as the Confederacy. The war was primarily caused by deep-rooted issues, including slavery, states’ rights, and economic and political differences.
Here’s a detailed history of the Civil War:
- Background and Causes:
The origins of the Civil War can be drafted about to the country’s founding. The issue of slavery, in particular, was a major point of contention. By the mid-19th century, the Northern and Southern states had developed separate economic systems and social structures. The North had assumed industrialization and urbanization, while the South depended heavily on agriculture, particularly cotton, which was cultivated on large plantations using slave labor.
Disagreements over the growth of slavery into new territories, economic tariffs, and the balance of power between free and slave states in Congress further strained the relationship between the regions.
- Secession and Formation of the Confederacy:
In December 1860, South Carolina became the first Southern state to secede from the Union, observed by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas in early 1861. These states were constructed by the great Confederate States of America with Jefferson Davis as their president. The Confederate Constitution was adopted, and efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the crisis failed.
- Fort Sumter and the Outbreak of War:
On April 12, 1861, Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, which was held by Union troops. This marked the beginning of the Civil War. After the attack, four more Southern states (Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina) joined the Confederacy.
- Military Strategies and Major Battles:
The Civil War saw several distinguishable steps and military strategies. In the early stages, both sides were bright that the war would be short-lived. However, as the conflict progressed, it became clear that the war would be long and costly.
Some of the major battles and movements during the war formed the First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas), Antietam, Gettysburg, Vicksburg, and Sherman’s March to the Sea. The war was characterized by large-scale casualties and immense defeat.
- Emancipation Proclamation and the End of Slavery:
On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln administered the Emancipation Proclamation, announcing that all slaves in Confederate-held regions were to be set free. This was a significant turning point in the war, as it turned the Union’s guide from solely maintaining the Union to also aiming to end slavery.
- Union Victories and Surrender of the Confederacy:
As the war advanced, the Union gained momentum, and the Confederacy suffered from reducing resources. In April 1865, General Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia, effectively ending the war.
- Reconstruction and Aftermath:
Following the war, the process of Reconstruction began, aiming to reintegrate the Confederate states back into the Union and address the issue of civil rights for recently emancipated African Americans. However, Reconstruction was a complex and controversial period marked by political struggles, racial anxieties, and the rise of white supremacist parties.
In conclusion, the American Civil War was a clarifying moment in the nation’s history, leading to significant changes in the country’s political, social, and economic geography. It stays an essential event that make the course of the United States and its continued efforts to manage issues of equality, civil rights, and national unity.
Charity organization Societies
Charity Organization Societies (COS) emerged in the late 19th century in the USA and Britain. They aimed to reform charitable practices by enabling scientific methods and coordinated efforts to assist the poor. COS advocated for “scientific charity,” stressing thorough investigation and evaluation of recipients’ needs to avoid indiscriminate booklets. It desired to replace fragmented and overlaying charitable efforts with a centralized system to prevent dependency and promote self-sufficiency. Notable figures like Josephine Shaw Lowell and Octavia Hill were instrumental in establishing COS. While they faced criticism for sensed paternalism and inadequate responses to structural issues causing poverty, the COS approach influenced the development of modern social work and welfare policies. Over time, COS evolved and integrated into other social welfare organizations, exiting a lasting impact on the philosophy and practices of charitable work.
- Origins: Charity Organization Societies were founded in the late 19th century in both the United States and Britain. They came back with a significant role in inefficiencies and lack of coordination among charitable organizations that provided assistance to the poor.
- Principles of “Scientific Charity”: The COS announced the idea of “scientific charity,” highlighting relentless investigation and examination of the needs of individuals desiring assistance. This approach aimed to provide targeted aid, avoid the reproduction of services, and discourage indiscriminate brochures, thus ensuring that resources were distributed more effectively.
- Centralized Coordination: One of the primary goals of COS was to concentrate charitable actions. They desired to bring various charitable organizations, religious groups, and individuals together under one umbrella to create a more organized and coordinated method of poverty relief.
- Focus on Self-Sufficiency: COS emphasized the importance of encouraging self-sufficiency among the poor. Rather than memorializing dependency on charity, they aimed to provide temporary assistance and opportunities for recipients to become self-supporting.
- Impact and Legacy: Despite facing criticism for their approach, Charity Organization Societies significantly influenced the development of modern social work practices and welfare policies. While the specific COS organizations finally joined or transformed into other forms, their focus on thorough assessment, coordination, and individual empowerment left an everlasting impact on the field of social welfare and philanthropy.
During the great depression of the 1930s the national government
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the national government in the United States, under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, enforced several significant steps to manage the economic crisis. The New Deal was a sequence of programs and reforms aimed at providing relief, recovery, and reform. It included initiatives such as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), Works Progress Administration (WPA), and Social Security Act. The government also passed banking and financial reforms, regulated the stock market, and provided unemployment assistance. These efforts aimed to boost economic growth, create jobs, and provide a safety net for those influenced by the powerful economic status.
- The New Deal: President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration introduced the New Deal, a sequence of household programs and policies aimed at handling the economic situation. The New Deal focused on relief for the unemployed and poor, recovery to encourage economic growth, and reform to prevent future economic failures.
- Emergency Banking Act (1933): The government legislated the Emergency Banking Act to stabilize the banking system. It authorized the president to declare a four-day national “bank holiday” to consider the financial health of banks and reopen those deemed solvent. This effort aimed to restore public confidence in the banking system.
- Social Security Act (1935): One of the most stable legacies of the New Deal was the Social Security Act. It established a system of social insurance and provided old-age pensions, unemployment insurance, and aid to dependent children. Social Security has become a vital safety net for millions of Americans.
- Works Progress Administration (WPA): As part of the New Deal, the WPA was designed to provide employment opportunities for the unemployed. It funded numerous public works projects, including infrastructure development, construction of schools and roads, and arts and cultural industries.
- Securities Exchange Act (1934): In response to the stock market crash of 1929, the government raised the Securities Exchange Act. It established the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to regulate the securities industry, protect investors, and promote clarity and fairness in financial markets.
These government interventions helped stabilize the economy, provided much-needed relief to millions of Americans, and laid the foundation for the modern welfare state. While the Great Depression lasted for much of the 1930s, the national government’s response through the New Deal had a significant impact on making social and economic policies in the United States.
Emergency Relief Administration
The Emergency Relief Administration (ERA) was a New Deal agency established in 1933 during President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration in response to the Great Depression. Its primary goal was to provide direct relief and assistance to those suffering from economic situations. Harry Hopkins was designated to lead the ERA.
The ERA was assigned with distributing federal funds to state and local governments, as well as directly to individuals in need. The agency focused on providing employment opportunities, food aid, and other forms of relief to the unemployed and poor.
One of the ERA’s most significant achievements was the performance of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA), which provided financial assistance to states and localities for relief efforts. The agency also made public works programs to create jobs and boost economic activity.
The ERA played a vital role in alleviating primary problems for millions of Americans during the Great Depression. However, it was later returned by other New Deal agencies, such as the Works Progress Administration (WPA), as the government continued to implement a range of relief and recovery steps to fight the economic crisis.
- Vocational education
- Tenant farmers
- Key West
The Emergency Relief Administration (ERA) during the Great Depression addressed several key points, including:
- Vocational Education: The ERA recognized the importance of vocational education and skill development as a means to battle unemployment. It supported vocational training programs that aimed to equip individuals with practical skills to secure employment and contribute to the workforce’s healing.
- Women: The ERA provided relief and employment opportunities for women who were disproportionately affected by the economic downturn. It aimed to empower women by offering jobs and aid through various relief programs, recognizing their vital role in helping families during the situation.
- Oklahoma: Oklahoma was one of the states hardly affected by the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression. The ERA distributed resources and funds to Oklahoma to provide relief to those impacted by drought, crop failures, and poverty in the area.
- Nebraska: Like Oklahoma, Nebraska also suffered from the devastating effects of the Dust Bowl. The ERA focused on providing relief to Nebraskans, offering financial aid, employment opportunities, and food service to those struggling to survive during the environmental and economic crisis.
- Tenant Farmers: Resident farmers, who depended on agricultural work but did not own the land they farmed, faced significant difficulties during the Great Depression. The ERA implemented programs to assist resident farmers with employment and relief efforts to alleviate their economic problems.
- Key West: Key West, a city in Florida, was also a recipient of ERA relief efforts. The agency provided aid and support to residents, creating employment opportunities, improving infrastructure, and managing the economic challenges met by the community.
Overall, the Emergency Relief Administration played an essential role in providing relief, employment, and social assistance to various regions and demographics affected by the Great Depression, aiming to raise the country out of economic unrest and restore stability to the nation.
Evolution of social work education and training
The evolution of social work education and training emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Over time, social work has evolved from a philanthropic and voluntary activity to an identified profession with formal education and training standards. Here are the key stages in its development
- Early Philanthropy and Charity Organizations (Late 19th century):
In the late 1800s, charitable organizations and settlement houses, such as Hull House founded by Jane Addams, provided assistance to the poor and immigrants. These efforts laid the foundation for organized social work, but the practice was largely informal and lacked standardized training.
- The Emergence of Social Work as a Profession (Early 20th Century):
In the early 20th century, social work began to establish itself as a distinct profession. The Charity Organization Societies (COS) played a crucial role in enabling “scientific charity” and introduced the idea of qualified social workers. Social work started to move away from traditional charity work and focused on individual casework and community-based services.
- Smith College School for Social Work (1918)
The establishment of the Smith College School for Social Work in 1918 marked the beginning of formal social work education in the United States. It was the first school to offer a graduate program in social work, leading to a Master’s in Social Work (MSW) degree.
- The Influence of the New Deal (1930s):
During the Great Depression, the New Deal agendas additionally legitimized social work as a profession. The government employed social workers to administer relief and assistance programs, increasing the need for trained professionals.
- Expansion of Social Work Education (Mid-20th century):
In the mid-20th century, social work education developed rapidly, with more universities offering MSW programs. The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) was established in 1952 to accredit social work programs and set educational criteria.
- Focus on Specializations (Late 20th century):
In the later part of the 20th century, social work education began to highlight discipline areas, such as clinical social work, healthcare, school social work, and policy advocacy.
- Emphasis on Professional Licensure (Modern era):
In the modern era, acquiring a social work license became essential for practice in many states and countries. Licensing requirements often include completing an accredited social work degree, supervised experience, and parting a licensure exam.
- Incorporating Evidence-Based Practices (Contemporary):
Today, social work education includes evidence-based practices and research to enhance the significance of interventions and services. Social workers are trained to work with mixed populations, manage systemic cases, and support social justice.
The evolution of social work education and training reflects a growing recognition of the profession’s importance and the necessity for formal education and professional standards to ensure thoughtful and ethical practice. As societal challenges continue to grow, social work education adjusts to meet the changing needs of communities and people.
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