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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The neighbourhood house as a social work agency Mellor, Sarah Llewellyn Bassett


Four of Vancouver's eight neighbourhood houses were studied to determine the extent to which they are social work agencies and to ascertain what types of social work each engages in. Related questions addressed include the roles of neighbourhood house voluntary boards of directors, the effects and implications of government funding of neighbourhood house programs, and the extent to which houses have departed from their historic roles. The four houses studied were consciously chosen so as to represent two which belong to the Neighbourhood Services Association and two which are independent, in that they belong directly to the United Way. An old and a new house of each type was selected so as to provide a further basis for valid comparisons Neighbourhood houses are clearly social work agencies. Programs of the casework and group work type are predominate. Two of the houses, in particular, also carry out extensive community organization work. Volunteer board members play significant roles. However, the nature of their roles varies according to length of tenure of the director, their past or current involvement in house programs, and their perceptions of the purpose of volunteer boards. Generally speaking, the longer the director's term and the more board members participate in house programs, the less significant is their role in making important policy, programming, staffing and budget decisions. Two of the four neighbourhood houses have departed from roles played by the early settlement houses. One reason for an increased emphasis on casework and group work programs at the expense of community organization is neighbourhood house reliance on government funding to provide direct services to target groups. The change in emphasis of house programming occurs, not through exercise of overt government control but, in part, because administration of publicly funded services takes time and energy away from community organization work.

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