China’s Social Work Association (CSWA) was founded in July 1991. Its first chairman was Cui Naifu, and Yan Mingfu was the first executive vice chairman. The association held its inaugural meeting on July 5, 1991. In July 1992, CSAW joined the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) and became a full member. In 2000, the association underwent major restructuring and was renamed the China Social Work Association.
In 2007, CSAW leaders completed their terms of office and a new administration was introduced. Xu Ruixin became the chairman, the new executive vice-chairman was Yang Jianchang, and the following were named vice chairpersons: Zhao Pengqi, Wang Jiu, Xu Liugen, Ma Xueli, Chen Yi, Liu Jing, Ma Jianfei, Tao Siliang, Wang Sibin, Shi Derong, Li Xiaolin, Jiang Kun, Li Shouzhen, Wang Sibin, Shi Derong, Wang Lu and Deng Li. The leadership coordinates the activities of sixteen professional committees, seve special funds, ten functional departments, three subordinate entities, and two partner institutions.
Since its establishment, CSWA has worked to promote the professionalization of social workers and has engaged in substantial theoretical and practical explorations. It has convened four Mainland-Hong Kong Social Welfare Seminars and three China Social Work Forums. It has completed two research projects: “Civil Affairs work and Social Management under the Socialist Market Economy,” and “Role and Function of Nongovernment Organizations in the professionalization of Social Work,” and prepared the Blue Book for Developing Social Work in China. The association also jointly established a school of social work with the Beijing.
The number of specialized social workers in China has reached 300,000, including over 80,000 who qualified after passing the government exam, according to a government report published in Beijing on 12 August 2013, as reported by the Xinhua News Agency in Beijing. “A Report on the Development of Social Work in China (2011-2012)” was published by the Social Work Research Center, under the Ministry of Civil Affairs, in collaboration with the Social Sciences Academic Press, under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. It is the second report of its kind to be published in the country. The first covered 2009-2010.In China, “Social Work” refers to such sectors as social welfare, social assistance, poverty elimination, marriage and family affairs, mental health, disabled persons’ rehabilitation, employment assistance, and prevention of crimes. By 2015 and 2020, the number of Chinese social specialists is projected to top 500,000 and 1.45 million, respectively, according to a government plan which calls for greater efforts to train more social-work specialists. The country has had five national tests on the qualification of social workers so far. China is reported to have more than 320 colleges and universities, including 266 colleges of social work undergraduate education and 60 vocational colleges offering specialist social work education. Ministry of Civil Affairs Social Work Research Centre party secretary, Wang Jiexiu, said that in terms of practical needs, there are still gaps in the number of social work professionals. He called for improved personnel training and increased recruitment.
The history of social work in China is both long-standing and emerging. It was first introduced in the 1920s when American missionaries established social work in several university-based sociology programs. After the People’s Republic of China was established in 1949, the new government abolished social work, viewing it as an instrument of Western bourgeois capitalism. The government, however, re-established social work in the 1980s in response to social problems that accompanied the economic reforms and modernization efforts of the same period. While social work education and professional practice remain nascent, their numbers are increasing at an unprecedented rate. Currently there are over two hundred social work programs, and the central government has established the goal of graduating two million social workers by 2020. This ambitious goal demonstrates China’s commitment to social work as a means of sustaining economic development and actualizing a “harmonious society.” Social work’s reintroduction in 1984 also prompted an emergent literature—in both Chinese and English. Still evolving, the literature is historically self-conscious as to cultural context and seeks to generate an indigenous model of professional practice. The academic literature on the history of social work in China is young and developing. The early history from the 1920s through 1949 had few observers recording and reflecting on those days. In contrast, interest in the return of social work in the 1990s drew numerous observers curious about what ideology, knowledge, model of education, and practice skills would prevail in China. Leung and Nann 1995 is an invaluable text on how to understand the return of social work to China. One of the more poignant themes is the debate between developing indigenous knowledge versus importing Western forms of social work. A major work that addresses this debate is Tsang, et al. 2004, which skilfully analyses China’s early and more recent social work beginnings. Yan and Tsang 2005 provides a follow-up snapshot but with more recent insights. And an even more current snapshot is Tsang, et al. 2008. Chi 2005 is a guest editorial that summarizes and contextualizes China’s social work history. The details of this history are organized and clearly laid out in Ngai 1996. A point of contention throughout the literature is to what extent foreign knowledge should be imported or whether social work should be an exclusively indigenous-based profession. Tsang and Yan 2001 outline a path to move beyond the cumbersome East-West construct. Looking to the future, Xiong and Wang 2007 projects government policy initiatives to modernize how social work is practiced.Read More»