According to Ingrao “in the U.S., the development of social work reflects a process that is ongoing, and which is derived from a lot of different cultures”. Social work is a field that has developed over the years, up to its modern state. In the U.S., social work dates back to a time when efforts by upper-class men as well as women would use charitable institutions, who utilized formal systems to provide relief to the poor, address the welfare of children, and mental health services in North America. Untrained individuals, acting as social workers, sought to assist the poor by means of moral persuasion. Social welfare initiatives were however stimulated by the Civil War through organizations such as Red Cross. The development of modern social work can be traced back to 1876, a time when there were rapid changes in the society such as the end of Reconstruction. The first charity organization in the U.S. was established in 1877 to provide social work services to people. The Great Depression that happende in 1930, the system for social welfare faced a major blow, as organizations did not have adequate resources to provide funds for social services due to the losses from the Depression. This made the government to assume the role of providing social welfare. The modern social welfare of the U.S. has undergone a lot of re-invention in relation to rapid economic and social alterations.
Fox, Paul & Mason define a profession as “an activity that an individual devotes his or her entire time in, in contrast to that person who is merely transiently engaged” (23). From this standpoint, a social worker who is engaged in a full-time social work is professional. This definition separates those who engage in social works as active philanthropy. In any profession, one becomes a professional through receiving some sort of training in particular fields. Therefore, social work becomes a profession when a social worker receives a degree at any level such as master’s, bachelor’s, or doctoral. In consideration of the above arguments, social work is indeed a profession.
There are some common roles that social workers engage in. Firstly, a social worker may act as a broker, where he/she is involved in making referrals to connect the family to resources that are needed. Secondly, they act as advocates, where they fight for the rights of other individuals as well as work in order to get hold of the needed resources through convincing other people of the valid needs of a society. Thirdly, a social worker may act as a case manager, where he is involved in the location of services as well as helping their customers to access the services. In addition, a social worker may act as an organizer, where he is in charge of organizing activities at the community level. They practice these roles in different settings such as schools, prisons, law courts, hospitals, and the community at large (Tannenbaum & Michael).
Social workers have a specific role in both educational as well as criminal justice systems. In an educational system, a social worker teaches individuals on how to build on specific skills such as making budgets and prevention of violence (Fox, Paul and Mason 113). For instance, a social worker in Washington may teach high school children on how to avert violence in the society. Criminal justice social workers are those who have customers are facing incarceration. In the criminal justice system, they play a primary ethical as well as professional obligation: to re-introduce individuals that have been reformed from prison and back to the community, and work with communities in order to rid off the causes of criminality. For example, a social worker in New York within the justice system may work with clients so as to change their criminal behaviors, and induce them back into the society as changed and productive people.