Administration of Public Welfare

By R. Clyde White | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
SOCIAL CASE WORK

There are three generic methods in social work: case work, group work, and community organization. In the preceding chapters the problems outlined are mainly those of community organization; their solution, in part at least, precedes case work. Group work is often associated with settlement houses and recreational agencies, but the techniques are involved in all planning and committee work. Social case work is singled out here for special consideration because of its immediate importance in the daily routine of all social workers. The final test of the effectiveness of policy and of all social work methods is the quality of the service to the individual and the family. If the diagnosis and treatment of the case of an aged person or a dependent child are wrong, it is because good case work has not been done or cannot be done. The success of a public welfare program depends upon how well the single case is handled, just as the recovery of a patient with tuberculosis depends upon how the physician handles that particular case and only partly upon what the books say about tuberculosis in general. Every case of whatever type has its own peculiar aspects. Long before the name "social case work" had been coined, this viewpoint had been stated in 1886 by Buzelle: "Classifications of our fellow men are apt to prove unsatisfactory under the tests of experience and acquaintance with the individual. The poor, and those in trouble worse than poverty, have not in common any type of physical, intellectual, or moral development which would warrant an attempt to group them as a class."1 During the early years of the National Conference of Charities and Correction many papers and reports referred to the individual differences of clients, but it remained for Mary Richmond in 1917 to present in

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1
Procedings of the National Conference of Charities and Correction, 1886, pp. 187-188. Quoted by Virginia P. Robinson, A Changing Psychology in Social Case Work, University of North Carolina Press, 1934, p. 7.

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