Chapter 7: Social and Human Services in the Community
Historical Notes about Social Welfare in Western Society
• Poverty isn’t just about lacking money, its also about a sense of
hopelessness and injustice
• Poverty affects everyone, not just the poor.
• Collins and Yeskel came up with term economic apartheid to describe the
widening equity gap in the US, which has resulted in increasing numbers
of Americans being left farther and farther behind economically.
• One objective of public assistance is to life people from poverty and from
other social problems so that they can move onto a better life.
Case in Point 7.1: Poverty in America
• Community psychologist consider poverty the number one social problem
in the US.
• Poverty in America is the root cause of other social problems such as
delinquency, substance abuse, school problems, crime and
• Worldwide, 25,000 people die of hunger each day
• Worldwide, Every 3.5 seconds someone dies of hunger
• In the US 1 in 47.4 million people live in poverty
• In the US 16 million people live in Extreme Poverty (Living at less than half
of the federal poverty line)
• The US leads all industrialized nations in child poverty
• Poverty rates for African Americans, Latinos, and Single mothers are the
highest sometimes, twice that of white men
• 59 million americans do not have health insurance
• Food stamp programs provide only $1/meal/person
• Handel defines Social Welfare as “ a set of ideas and a set of activities
and organizations for carrying out those ideas. It provides people with
income and other social benefits in ways that safeguard their dignity.
• Social welfare serves both ideological concerns (eg. Political and
religious) and practical concerns (inability to provide food for oneself)
• Before modern times one major source of social welfare was
• Charity/Philanthropy: Social welfare in which a donor (voluntary giver)
assists a recipient (beneficiary) Ex. Habitat for Humanity
• Public Welfare: Is when the government assumes responsibility for the
poor Ex. Ontario Works, Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)
• Charity and Public Welfare are likely to create social stigmas where
individuals hold negative views towards those who require aid. • People who require social aid are believed to be lazy and immoral, their
• Recipients sometimes have a negative view of themselves and these
negative views can translate into self-defeating behaviours. Ex; Many
children qualify for free breakfast and lunch programs but rather not take
part because they don’t want the stigma of being poor broadcast to their
• This is why there are social welfare programs that are developed with the
best intentions in mind whose effectiveness is questionable.
• Two modern forms of social welfare are Social service and social
o Non-material benefits.
o The government uses taxes to provide services rather than direct
monetary aid. The major goal is to ensure and maintain a
productive workforce by preventing or intervention. Ex: Free Walk-
Social Insurance (Public Assistance):
o Originated in the 19 century, around the same time as the
o Government insurance that supports those who have contributed to
the system. Funds for these systems are generally derive from
o The difference between public welfare and social insurance is that,
people who get social insurance are receiving benefits that have
been earned by either their own work or the work of others on their
behalf. People who are on public welfare, never contributed to the
o Examples of Social Insurance: Employment Insurance Benefits,
Canadian Pension Plan Disability Benefits (CPP)
• Changes were made to the public welfare programs in 1996, people who
receive public welfare have to transition to full or part time work and
cannot remain indefinitely on government assistance except under
• Research shows that most welfare recipients would like to work.
• Public welfare is seen as degrading and stigmatizing
• There is a growing concern that people should be less dependent on
public welfare and should be encouraged to work.
• There is a growing recognition that if employment participation is
mandatory, employment should make families better of by working than
• Studies show that becoming employed and coming off of public welfare
increases income and personal well being but may have little effect on other aspects of family life such as parenting skills and home
• The recession has resulted in greater rates of joblessness and
underemployment, thus making transitioning off of public welfare into work
easier said than done.
• “welfare to work programs” have mixed results, and such programs have
o Piven and Cloward say, Welfare to work programs claim
miraculous social and cultural transformations that are unrealistic,
such as increased family cohesion and lower crime rates.
o Aber,Brooks-Gunn and Maynard, concluded that welfare to work
programs do little to improve children of poor parents. Poor children
continue to be exposed to more family turmoil, family separation,
and instability; come from more polluted environments, live in more
dangerous neighbourhoods and are exposed to more risk factors
than wealthier children.
Case in Point 7.2: The Grameen Bank
• A worldwide experiment created by Muhammad Yunus
• He gave a small loan (microcredit) of $25 to $50 to poor women in
Bangladesh who were suffering from extreme poverty.
• These loans were generally used by the women to begin their own
small industries such a raising farm animals or creating crafts to sell.
• Yunus couldn’t convince traditional banks to lend money to the poor, so
he created his own bank called the Grameen Bank to continue his
• The Grameen bank looks for the poorest borrowers, no collateral is
needed. The bank brings the loan to the people. Borrowers are
required to join the bank in groups of five in order to provide support
and advice for one another.
• The system is based on trust, accountability, participation and
• The Grameen bank measures poverty in a more functional and
practical way by monitoring the borrowers to determine whether their
quality of life is improving. Ex; If the family successfully owns a house
with a metal roof, drinks portable water, has adequate clothes for every
day use, has 3 meals a day, access to schooling and health care then
the family is considered to have moved beyond poverty.
• The Grameen bank has positive long term effects on people in poverty;
more than 97% of the loans are repaid, women’s economic and
security status within the family are elevated. Children are better
schooled and healthier. Extreme poverty declines by more than 70%
within 5 years of the borrowers joining the bank.
• In Bangladesh the Grameen Bank is the largest rural financial
institution • Yunus however thinks this program wouldn’t be successful in the US
because costs in the US would make operations far more expensive.
Specific Social Issues & Social Services
• To evaluate and judge the effectiveness or impact of social and human
services a consensus of standards are essential.
• Model programs possess one or more of these 5 characteristics
1. Programs have a specific target audiences
2. The goal of the program is to make a long term and significant
impact and enhance the target groups well being
3. Provides necessary skills for the recipients to achieve their
4. Programs strength the natural support from family, community or
5. Programs have evaluative mechanisms to document their
• There are five groups of people that are used to examine the
problems, people and inventions to the problems within social and
human service systems.
1. Maltreated and Neglected Children
2. Survivors of domestic violence
3. Pregnant teens
4. The elderly
5. The homeless
• These 5 groups are larger or growing in number and are also currently
receiving much media attention.
• Defining child abuse is difficult because each culture sets its own
generally accepted principles of childrearing, childcare and discipline.
• It is also difficult to provide a clear definition of child abuse because
some look at the impact or harm on the child whereas other focus on
the behaviour or actions of the perpetrators
• Child abuse exists universally, and there is a general agreement that
child abuse, harsh discipline and sexual abuse should not be allowed
• The World Health Organization (WHO) provides this broad definition:
Child abuse or maltreatment constitutes all forms of physical and/ or
emotional ill- treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or
commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the
child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relation-ship
of responsibility, trust or power.
• There are many cases of underreporting when it comes to child
• Many child injuries and deaths are not routinely investigated and post-
mortem examinations are not always carried out. • Many cases of abuse and neglect are concealed from investigators.
• Medical personnel sometimes make inaccurate determinations of the
manner and cause of death and injury, blaming a neglected child’s
death on sudden infant death syndrome.
• 80% of victims were abused by a parent acting alone or in conjunction
with another person.
• Approx. 40% of child victims were maltreated by their mothers.
• Victims abused by nonparental perpetrators account for 11%
(nonparental includes foster parents, day care staff, nannies, legal
• Some consequences of child abuse are:
o Higher risk of adverse health effects as adults, such as smoking,
alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, suicide, eating disorders
o Individuals with a history of abuse are 1.5x more likely to use
illicit drugs especially marijuana in middle adulthood
o Approx. 1,400 children experiences sever or fatal head trauma
as a result of abuse each year, non-fatal consequences include
visual impairment, motor impairment, cognitive impairments.
• Child Maltreatment costs society as well. Abused children and their
abuses are the typical focus of efforts by social and human services.
• Abused children and their parents are often referred by judges to
mental health care providers for treatment.
Causes of Maltreatment
• There are multiple factors responsible for child maltreatment:
o Stressors in the parents’ lives
o Social isolation
o Unrealistic expectations by parents of children
o Poor prenatal care
o Dysfunctional caregiving
o Closely spaced unplanned pregnancies
o Dependence on welfare
o Community violence
o Parental substance abuse
• Societal, institutional and interpersonal factors provide the explanatory
framework for child maltreatment
• High-risk locations are characterized by a lack of community identity
where as low risk areas had a sense of community and greater
• Neighbourhood factors such as impoverishment and community
violence affect child maltreatment and development more than
individual risk factors. • Neighbours do feel as though they should be able to help each other
but neighbourhood conditions often inhibit their willingness to do so.
• Freisthler, Bruce and Needell examined how neighbourhood
characteristics were associated with rates of childhood maltreatment.
They concluded that reducing neighbourhood poverty may reduce
rates of child maltreatment and efforts to prevent maltreatment at the
neighbourhood level may need to be tailored to specific neighbourhood
demographics to be the most effective.
• Traditional efforts at invention occur at the individual clinical level,
maltreated children and their parents are given counselling to help over
come personal problems and understand the abuse.
• This method doesn’t do anything to prevent abuse and only focuses on
the individual or the family and not other ecological systems (poverty)
that share responsibility.
• David Olds and his research team designed the project, more recently
called the Nurse-Family Partnership.
o Nurses would visit first time mothers who are young, single parents,
or from lower socioeconomic status.
o The nurses would visit the home every other week during the