The Future of Rural Social Work

  • Susan A. Murty
Keywords: Rural Social Work, Rural Definition, Service Delivery, Regionalization, Community-Based Services, Generalist Practice


Over the years, the extensive literature on rural social work has been consistent in its recommendations for local community-based practice and rural generalist practice. However, rural social work is embedded in the larger social work profession which has been moving in the opposite direction from the one advocated by rural social workers. The gradual process of centralization and specialization in the profession now make it almost impossible for social workers to use community-based generalist practice approaches in rural areas. In order to ensure a positive future for rural social work, urban and rural social workers must work together to re-introduce a level of community-based generalist practice within regionalized and specialized social and health service systems. A range of alternative approaches to link community-based rural programs with regional programs is presented.