Social Work with Children and Their Families: Pragmatic Foundations

Social Work with Children and Their Families: Pragmatic Foundations

Social Work with Children and Their Families: Pragmatic Foundations

Social Work with Children and Their Families: Pragmatic Foundations


An extensively revised version of the first edition, this text focuses on the practical foundational knowledge required to practice social work effectively in the complex and fast-changing world of services to children and their families. The core organizing framework consists of eight pragmatic perspectives: combating adultcentrism, family-centered practice, the strengths perspective, respect for diversity and difference, the least restrictive alternative, ecological perspective, organization and financing, and achieving outcomes. Unlike most texts that focus either on direct practice or on policy, Petr's revised volume integrates current policy-including recent reform efforts-with "best practices." The student thus gains a deep appreciation for how direct social work practice is linked to, and even guided by, contemporary policy initiatives and the values that underscore those initiatives. Two new chapters are devoted specifically to the fields of child welfare and children's mental health, providing an overview of the laws, policies, practices, and terminology pertaining to each setting. The next eight chapters focus on each pragmatic perspective and its relevance to child welfare and children's mental health. The in-depth case studies that comprise the concluding two chapters illustrate how typical client situations can be successfully addressed within the context of the pragmatic perspectives. Packed with case studies, specific practice instruction, chapter summaries, and suggested learning activities, this book prepares students and practitioners to think and act professionally in ways that are consistent with current laws, values, policies, and reform efforts in the field.


Pragmatism: 1. character or conduct that emphasizes practicality. Random House Unabridged Dictionary (2nd ed.), 1993

Goals and Purposes

This book aims to provide the graduate-level or senior-level undergraduate student with the essential foundation of knowledge necessary for beginning social work with children and families. In the spirit of pragmatism, this textbook emphasizes practical knowledge that is relevant and useful to students, rather than abstract theories and ideas that are difficult to connect and translate to the real world of the social worker. This knowledge is practical in the pragmatic sense of synthesizing and integrating sometimes very divergent ideas and viewpoints. Through the pragmatic process of mediating divergent perspectives, social workers can learn to formulate purposeful actions that make a difference for clients.

Unquestionably, multiple and often divergent viewpoints populate the world of social work with children and families. Social workers tend to work with those children and families that other professionals see as the most difficult, multiproblem cases. These children are often involved with numerous professionals who work in separate and often segregated systems of care such as child welfare, mental health, and education. The viewpoints and perspectives of all these professionals are often widely disparate: they can disagree on innumerable issues including the target of concern (e.g., individual or family), the definition of the problem, the cause of the problem, the goals of the case plan, and the best means to achieve the goals. When the parent and child's opinions are added to this mix, even more complexity results. Divergent viewpoints are not limited to the level of individual opinion. The professional literature is replete with hundreds of different practice modalities and interventions, scores of theories about human behavior, contradictory and incomplete research, and conflicting social policies. How, then, do we best prepare social workers for beginning-level practice?

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.