October 3-4, 2002
New York, New York, USA
(400 West 117th Street in Manhattan)
The Musher Program, Columbia University & the Center for the Study of Social Work Practice (A joint program of Columbia University School of Social Work and the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services)
This report was prepared by William Bannon, Doctoral Candidate, Columbia University School of Social Work and Edward Mullen, Professor, Columbia University with assistance from Todd Trice, Doctoral Candidate, Columbia University School of Social Work and Gretchen Borges, former Assistant Director, Center for the Study of Social Work Practice and the Musher Program, Columbia University
The workshop began with a representative from each country presenting the latest developments in the social work arena in their homeland (e.g., in terms of governmental funding, the development of empirical research within social work programs, professional social work education, and other areas of interest) . Brief summarizations are presented below for each of the country reports. Hyperlinks are provided to each of the country centers.
The representative from Denmark described that among the biggest advancements in social research is the creation of a new center at the Danish University of Education where 10 social scientists are currently conducting research. The evaluation of the research being conducted at this site is a goal that has yet to come to fruition.
The representative from England discussed the new development in the UK of the SCIE website that was created with the intention of being a resource for the United Kingdom. It is designed:
· To fill gaps in social care research and to develop full bodies of knowledge.
· To investigate and serve as a guide to “best practices” guidelines in clinical practice.
· As a place to house reviews and make them available to practitioners and researchers.
type systematic reviews.
The representative from Finland informed the conference of an announcement made by the country’s Ministry of Social Affairs of an initiative to advance social welfare. The representative herself (Riitta Haverinen) has been involved in a social work task force commissioned to investigate the implications a recession in the 1990’s had on social and health care using several national guidelines as tools. Subsequently, recommendations for case management plans for the elderly and building networks to improve child welfare have been formulated. One drawback to the plan is that there is a lack of quality assurance and policy tools and guidelines supporting these new developments and the effects of new programs. The system may benefit from methods to perform appropriate “checks” of the effectiveness of these new programs. Thus, there are currently three different research plans being considered to guide the future of social work in Finland.
The representative from the Netherlands noted that a new minister of health and social services has come into office who has instituted several policies including a trend to concentrate services with no overlap. Additionally, social welfare has been decentralized to local governments, who are now responsible for commissioning social welfare research. These two developments have made it necessary for local governments to form a “local government commission” to create an infrastructure for social welfare research and development. There has also been a move to institute outcome measures for social services to the point that local governments require total accountability from each project they fund. In response, there is a critical need to develop outcome measures to quantify the success of outreach programs and treatments. However, there are few evidence-based practice guidelines because the lack of infrastructure in the social work research arena makes it difficult to adopt in depth these types of approaches. In response to this dilemma, large developmental organizations outside the field of social work (e.g., NIW) are developing guidelines that may guide social work’s intake procedures and evidence-based practice in future research.
The representative from Scotland described that in the
offices had a centralized overview over different areas of the social work
profession. However, recently due to a
lack of quality assurance measures these social work offices have been
decentralized into policy departments.
Subsequently, social work researchers have lost independence and have
become parts of larger more powerful departments that may direct social work
research at their discretion. This
development seems to reflect a growing disintegration of the social work
profession and fragmentation of social work into non-social work related
departments in Scotland. For example,
the Director of Education may begin to oversee educational social work,
criminal social work, and other social work functions. Additionally, non-social work ethics
committees (e.g., medical ethics committees) review social work research
proposals that are not sensitive to the needs of the profession and may impinge
on it. However, there are new developments in social work
training such as an honors level social work degree to be instituted in
2004. This advanced degree is expected
to strengthen the social work knowledge base and promote professional cohesion
The representative from Sweden commented that expanding the knowledge base in social work has become a driving force in federal agencies. Efforts to identify the most effective programs in social work began in the late nineteen-eighties, when the ministry of social affairs began to compile a “best-practices” synthesis to increase competence in social work practice and help identify what should be taught in schools of social work. Today there is a heavy focus on evidence-based practice social work research. The primary goals set forth include:
· To produce scientific knowledge describing the value and effectiveness of social work and social work interventions.
· To compile a synthesis of systematic reviews describing the value, effects, and tools of social services and social work interventions.
· To support follow-up on the outcomes of professionals who utilize the gathered information and reviews described above.
The representative from Switzerland expressed that political offices are interested in social work research because its helps them understand and help their constituency. In Switzerland, the professional emergence of social work occurred recently. A huge step was take in the development of social work about five years ago when a university of applied sciences was created and about 100 social work projects were begun. Subsequently, there were several national research programs developed with themes such as effectiveness of social security, social integration/exclusion and generation studies. This research again enjoys strong federal political support because these political offices desire a synthesized national analysis of the social needs of their country so they may better serve their constituency.
The representative from the United States (Ed Mullen) described the Institute for the Advancement of Social Work Research (IASWR) established in 1993 by five national social work organizations to address recommendations from a 1991 report adopted by National Institute of Mental Health’s advisory council. As stated in the IASWR web site this organization "works to improve the lives of vulnerable populations by advocating for the importance of research to strengthen the social work profession’s capacity to address complex social needs, and to contribute to improved prevention and treatment interventions, services, and policies." The representative noted that a second important development at the national level is the ongoing attempt to pass the National Center for Social Work Research Act. This Act would authorizes creation of a national-level social work research center focused on the prevention and treatment of health and social problems. The representative noted that the Center for the Study of Social Work Practice has a new director, Ronald Feldman who was not able to attend this workshop. He noted that with the members permission he (Ed Mullen) would represent the Musher Program rather than the Center for the Study of Social Work Practice in Network activities.
The representative from Whales commented that the political state of the social work profession is structured in the same manner as in Scotland as described in it's presentation today. The profession has begun a devolution as its functions are being supervised and directed by larger non-social work departments. Additionally, the practice of social work research is made even more difficult because research grants are regularly agency led as opposed to being university led.
At least one paper was presented from each of the
representative countries. These are listed below in order of presentation.
Hyperlinks are provided to papers and PowerPoint presentations where available.
At least one paper was presented from each of the representative countries. These are listed below in order of presentation. Hyperlinks are provided to papers and PowerPoint presentations where available.
SPRU, University of York
The business meeting examined ideas regarding the next meeting of the Network which is to be hosted by the Social Work Research Centre, Department of Applied Social Science, University of Stirling, Stirling, Scotland, UK (subsequently scheduled for 25-26th September 2003). It was agreed that the host would be responsible for making final decisions regarding the workshop theme, structure and content.
Some suggestions regarding possible topics included the following:
Research and regulation: Practice guidelines and research performance management;
Research evaluation & training in social work: How education is complimented by and underpinned by research;
research guidance ;
Governance, citizenship, and social work (EU submission): How structures impinge on social work in each country;
Comparative analysis: Areas of hypotheses, outcomes, what kind of approaches would we adopt to move forward?;
What processes do we need? ;
Realism: Specific guidelines for realistic research;
Infrastructure for systematic reviews: Currently limited in language, terminology, concepts, databases, etc. This forum could deduce what is needed to conduct reviews;
User involvement .
addition to next year’s topics, the participants of the workshop also discussed
how the future workshops may be enhanced through a modified structure. Different papers should be presented at the
next workshop for the purposes of education.
One or two themes (e.g., systematic reviews) should be adhered to in the
next workshop so the strength of the network can contribute to a collective
focus. Centers can present their unique experiences, challenges, and ideas for
progression, yet some question was raised about the utility of country reports
because they take too much time. There was some discussion of
whether or not to invite a keynote speaker on whatever topic is chosen.
There was some discussion of whether or not to invite a keynote speaker on whatever topic is chosen.
It was generally agreed that a good general focus for the Stirling meeting would be social work knowledge addressed from within an international perspective.
Peter Sommerfeld invited the Network to hold it's 2004 meeting
in Switzerland, hosted by Fachhochschule
Solothurn Nordwestschweiz, Hochschule fur Soziales Solothurn.
invited the Network to hold it's 2004 meeting in Switzerland, hosted by Fachhochschule Solothurn Nordwestschweiz, Hochschule fur Soziales Solothurn.
The meeting was adjourned with thanks to all for
a stimulating 5th annual meeting of the International Inter-Center Network for
Evaluation of Social Work Practice.