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Social Work Practice with African Americans in Urban Environments

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Social Work Practice with African Americans in Urban Environments

SKU# 9780826130747


  • Rhonda Wells-Wilbon DSW, MSW, LICSW, LCSW-C
  • Anna R. McPhatter PhD, LCSW
  • Halaevalu F.O. Vakalahi PhD

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The experiences of African Americans in urban communities are distinct from those of other ethnic groups, and to be truly understood require an in-depth appreciation of the interface between micro- and macro-level factors. This sweeping text, an outgrowth of a groundbreaking urban social work curriculum, focuses exclusively on the African American experience through field education, community engagement, and practice. It presents a framework for urban social work practice that encompasses a deep understanding of the challenges faced by this community. From a perspective based on empowerment, strengths, resilience, cultural competence, and multiculturalism, the book delivers proven strategies for social work practice with the urban African American population. It facilitates the development of creative thinking skills and the ability to "meet people where they are" skills that are often necessary for true transformation to take root.

The book describes an overarching framework for understanding and practicing urban social work, including definitions and theories that have critical implications for working with people in such communities. It encompasses the contributions of African American pioneers regarding a response to such challenges as poverty, oppression, and racism. Focusing on the theory, practice, and policy aspects of urban social work, the book examines specific subsets of the urban African American population including children, adults, families, and older adults. It addresses the challenges of urban social work in relation to public health, health, and mental health; substance abuse; criminal justice; and violence prevention. Additionally, the book discusses how to navigate the urban built environment and the intersection between African Americans and other diverse groups. Chapters include outcome measures of effectiveness, case studies, review questions, suggested activities, and supplemental readings.


  • Fills a void in the literature on urban social work practice with African Americans
  • Presents the outgrowth of a renowned urban curriculum, field education, research, community engagement, and practice
  • Fulfills the requirements of the CSWE in the Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards regarding diversity
  • Synthesizes micro, mezzo, and macro content in each chapter
  • Provides contributions from African American pioneers in urban social work practice
  • Accompanying Instructor's Manual and PowerPoint Slides

Product Details 

  • Publication Date September 08, 2015
  • Page Count 488
  • Product Form Paperback / softback
  • ISBN 13 9780826130747
  • EISBN 9780826130754

About The Author(s) 

Rhonda Wells-Wilbon, DSW, LICSW, LCSW-C is a tenured Associate Professor and former Chair, Masters of Social Work Program, she currently serves as a faculty member in the PhD Program, School of Social Work, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD. She is founder and CEO of Asili Consultants LLC. Her professional articles have appeared in the Journal of Family Strengths, Journal of Black Studies, Black Women, Gender and Families, and Journal of Teaching Social Work, to name a few. Dr. Wells-Wilbon has contributed to the professional literature with training curriculums, research reports, conference presentations and book chapters. Her primary practice and research areas include domestic violence and adult survivors of child sexual abuse and sexual assault. Dr. Wells-Wilbon active board memberships include the Council on Social Work Education’s Women’s Council, National Association of Black Social Workers, The House of Ruth Maryland, Morgan State University’s Head Start Program, and the founding Chair, Board of Trustees Richard Wright Public Charter School in Washington, DC.

Anna R. McPhatter, PhD, LCSW is Dean and Professor, School of Social Work, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD. With 35 years of teaching in undergraduate and graduate social work programs, Dr. McPhatter is an expert on child welfare, human behavior in the social environment, social group work, family treatment, culturally competent social work practice and clinical social work with Black families. She is currently Commissioner, Commission on Accreditation, Council on Social Work Education, a member of the National Association of Social Work (NASW), President, Board of Directors for Helping Children Grow, a child welfare agency located in Washington, DC, and Board Member for the Govans Ecumenical Development Corporation (GEDCO), an agency that provides sustainable housing for the elderly, the homeless, and consumers dealing with substance abuse, formerly a Commissioner for the Baltimore City Department of Social Services. Dr. McPhatter serves on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved and Health and Social Work. Her journal and book chapter publications are numerous.

Halaevalu F.O. Vakalahi, PhD is Professor and Associate Dean, School of Social Work, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD. Her areas of teaching include human behavior and the social work environment, social policy, organizational leadership, and cultural diversity. Her contribution to the profession and community includes serving in the Council on Social Work Education, National Association of Social Workers, and the Baltimore City Commission on Aging. Her areas of scholarship include Pacific Islander culture and community, specifically in relation to aging and intergenerational transmission of cultural values, beliefs, and practices, and the experiences of women of color in academia. Her publications in these areas of scholarship include numerous peer-reviewed articles, chapters, references, and co-edited-authored books including her most recent work titled Transnational Pacific Islanders and Social Work and The Collective Spirit of Aging across Cultures.

Table of Contents 


Foreword by Sandra Edmonds Crewe, PhD, MSW, ACSW



Share Social Work Practice With African Americans in Urban Environments


1. Urban Social Work With African Americans: Critical Perspectives, Concepts, and Theories

Anna R. McPhatter

Underlying Assumptions, Beliefs, and Principles

Critical Concepts, Perspectives, and Theories

Conceptualizing a Social Work Curriculum: Case Study

School of Social Work Goals


For Further Study


2. African American Pioneers of Urban Social Work

Iris Carlton-LaNey

Women’s Club

The Politics of Reform

Settlement Houses

The National Urban League

Housing in the Cities

Taking Care of Children and Youth



For Further Study




3. Child Welfare in Urban Environments

Kimberly Y. Johnson and Sandra S. Chipungu

Recent Trends in Foster Care

Demographic Trends in Foster Care

Demographic Trends in Maryland

Disproportionality: Child Welfare

Financing Child Welfare: Penetration Rates

Trauma: Child Welfare

Workforce Issues

Trauma Typologies

Trauma and Attachment Issues for Children

Trauma and Mental Health

Trauma and Well-Being

Trauma: Helping the Child Welfare Professional

Trauma-Informed Practice and Interventions

Implications for Policy

Implications for Social Work Education

Implications for Practice

For Further Study


4. Engaging Urban African American Adolescents in Treatment

Michael M. Sinclair and Belinda Davis Smith

Culturally Competent Practice With Urban Adolescents

The Urban Adolescent


Family Structure

Community Violence

Substance Abuse

Engaging the African American Adolescent

Rap Therapy


For Further Study


5. Coming to America: Black Immigrants in Urban Communities

Belinda Davis Smith, Isiah Marshall Jr., Dana Burdnell Wilson, and Errol S. Bolden

Black Immigrants Defined

Black Caribbean Immigrants

African Immigrants

Urban Black Immigrants: Immigration and Social Policy

Historical Analysis

Contemporary Policies

Ecological Framework in Understanding Black Immigrant Families

Black Immigrant Family Systems and Child Rearing

Crime and Police Interaction


Mezzo- and Macro-Level Environments

Help-Seeking Behaviors

Formal and Informal Support Systems


Cultural Competence


For Further Study


6. That Is So Queer: Building a Foundation for Working With African American Lesbian, Gay, and Transgender Individuals in the Community

Laurens G. Van Sluytman, Denise Torres, and Saanjh Aakash Kishore

Relevant Core Competencies (Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards)

In the Life: Black Gay and Lesbian Lives

Black Gay Male Case Study—Evaluation Research

Youth and Older GLT Lives

GLT Youth Case Study—Advocacy and Policy

BGLT Older Lives

GLT Elder Case Study—Program Development

Transgender Lives

Transgender Population Case Study—Individual Practice


For Further Study




7. Social Work and Health—Understanding the Contexts for Social Work and Public Health

Paul Archibald and Kim Dobson-Sydnor

The Social Work Public Health Framework

Healthy People 2020


The Social Determinants of Health and Health Disparities

A Plan for Action

Social Work Public Health Analysis: African American Mental Health Status


For Further Study


8. Exploring Urban Faith-Based–Social Work Community Collaboration for Mental Health Promotion in Urban African American Communities

Paul Archibald, Kevin Daniels, and Sandra Austin

UAA Spirituality

Urban Faith-Based Organizations’ and Urban Social Work Practitioners’ Health Promotion

Implications for Social Work Practice in Urban Environments

Case Study

For Further Study


9. Urban Health: Four Issues of Concerns

Linda Darrell and LaPricia Lewis Boyer

Sickle Cell Anemia


Coronary Heart Disease


Implications for the Future

For Further Study


10. Inner City Blues: Social Work Practice With Urban Communities Impacted by HIV/AIDS

Denise McLane-Davison and Warren W. Hewitt

AIDS: The Great Maafa

Reframing an Old Problem: Seminole Frameworks

Community and Government Responses

Social Work Front and Center

Implications for the Future

For Further Study


11. Mental and Emotional Wellness Among African Americans in Urban Environments: What Do We Know? How Can We Improve Outcomes?

Rhonda Wells-Wilbon, Kenya Jones, and Thelma Rich

Defining Mental and Emotional Health and Well-Being

A Cultural Lens

A Historical Perspective

The Urban Environment


For Further Study




12. The Magic of Aging in the Urban Environment

Margaret E. Pittman, Leeza M. Scheidt, Merissa R. Munford, and Halaevalu F. Ofahengaue Vakalahi

Our Responsibility

The Urban Context and Major Aging Issues

Supports and Resources in the Urban Environment

Working With the Aging Population

Making a Difference

Meeting Urban Needs

Implications for the Future

For Further Study


13. On Urban Ground: An Integrated Framework for Working With African American Grandparent Caregivers

Gaynell M. Simpson, Belinda Davis Smith, and Dana Burdell Wilson

Multigenerational and Skipped-Generation Households

Grandfather Caregivers

Historical Traditions of African American Caregiving

An Integrated Framework: Ecological Perspective, Strengths Perspective, and Empowerment Theory

A Collective Response to Urban Grandparent Caregiving

The Faith Community

Family Ties Project

Implications for the Future

For Further Study


14. Coping With Loss and Grief in Urban Communities

Tanya L. Sharpe and Margaret E. Pittman



Coping With Urban Traumatic Loss and Grief

Implications for the Future

For Further Study



15. Youth Violence—An Overview: Prevalence and Intervention Strategies to Address Violence Among Urban African American Youth

Rhonda Wells-Wilbon, Von E. Nebbitt, and Margaret Lombe

Conceptualizing Youth Violence

Prevalence of Exposure to Youth Violence

Youth Violence Across Domains

Preventive Interventions


For Further Study


16. Providing Culturally Sensitive Intervention With Urban African American Victims of Intimate Partner Violence

Yvonne V. Greene and Marni N. Seyyid

Overview of Intimate Partner Violence

Culturally Competent Practice

Societal Perceptions of African American Women and Men

Unique Cultural Challenges Faced by African American Women in Violent Intimate Relationships and Barriers to Reporting

Implications for Social Work Practice

Case Study

For Further Study


17. Substance Use Prevention in the Urban Environment

Anthony Estreet

Substance Use Prevention

Models of Substance Use Prevention

Substance Abuse Prevention Frameworks

Promising Culturally Specific Prevention Framework: Afrocentric Theory

Substance Use Prevention Moves Toward Evidence-Based Practices

Prevention Programs That Work

Prevention Program Highlight

Implications for Social Work

For Further Study


18. Substance Use Treatment Approaches in the Urban Environment

Anthony Estreet

Treatment for Substance Use Disorders

Levels of Substance Use Disorder Treatment

Detoxification Programs

Inpatient Treatment

Residential Treatment

Partial Hospitalization Treatment

Intensive Outpatient Treatment

Traditional Outpatient Treatment

Evidence-Based Treatment Approaches

Motivational Enhancement Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Afrocentric Paradigm as an Emerging Treatment Approach for African Americans

Implications for Social Work Practice

For Further Study


19. Educating Social Workers in a Client-Centered Defense Practice

Lori James-Townes and Marquis Chandler

Two Professions: Serving Those Disproportionately Impacted by Over-Incarceration

The Maryland Office of Public Defender: Serving the Urban Community

MOPD: A National Model

Training the Defense-Based Social Worker

Implications for the Future

For Further Study



20. Urban Gangs: Epidemiological Criminology as a Theoretical Framework for Social Work Practice

Kevin Daniels, Stacy A. Smith, Paul Archibald, and Timothy Akers

African American Urban Settings and Criminal Behavior

The Geospatial and Global Origins of Gang Activity

Contextualizing the Dynamics and Complexities of Urban Gangs

Evolution of the Hybrid Gang Family

Epidemiological Criminology as a Theoretical Framework in Social Work Practice

Evidence-Based Practice Within Urban Settings

Case Study: C-Gangs

Implications for Social Work

For Further Study



21. Research With Urban African American Adolescents and Emerging Adults: Implications for Quasi-Community-Based Participatory Research and Community Action Research

M. Taqi Tirmazi, Von E. Nebbitt, Kim Dobson Sydnor, and Dawn Thurman

Context for Conducting Research Among African American Urban Youth

Socioecocultural and Acculturation Theory

Community-Based Participatory Research and Participatory Action Research


For Further Study



22. Leadership and Administration of Systems in Urban Settings

Colette Walker Thomas and Jarrell J. McRae


Macro Practice as an Urban Social Work Leader

Guiding Organizational Change

Working Within Systems: Quality Service Delivery Versus Organizational Expectations

Urban Leaders Leading With Grace

Organizational Culture and Leadership

Navigating Resources in an Urban Community

Implications for the Future

For Further Study


23. Urgency and Advocacy for Organizational Change in Urban Public School Settings: A Social Work Perspective on Meeting the Needs of African American Children

Claudia Lawrence-Webb

Structure of Public U.S. Education System

Historical Evolvement of Education in the United States

Urban Populations and Educational Policies

Perception of Teachers in Urban Environments

Building Educational Capacity

Implications for the Future

For Further Study


24. Policies That Impact Urban Communities

Tricia Bent-Goodley

Policies That Impact Urban Communities


Education, Violence, and Families: Intersections and Resistance

Building on Strengths, Resiliency, and African American Cultural Values


For Further Study