An American Social Worker in Italy
by Jean Charnley
University of Minnesota Press, 1961
Paper: 978-0-8166-5723-0


An American Social Worker in Italy was first published in 1961. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

Mrs. Charnley, an American social worker, spent six months in Italy on a Fulbright grant as a consultant to Italian child welfare agencies and schools of social work. Here, in diary form, she tells of her experiences during those months when she struggled to teach American social work principles to her Italian colleagues. The task was complicated not only by the need to communicate in a newly learned tongue but also by the necessity to tailor American casework philosophies to a vastly different culture. The story abounds in humor and pathos and, at the same time, offers rich information about Italy, its people, and its child-care methods and institutions.

Mrs. Charnley points out that one Italian child in ten spends his first seventeen years in an institution. The nation's laws for the protection of children date back to the Caesars; even the most progressive of the social workers she met hoped for reforms only in terms of decades or centuries. Against this background, the situations in which she found herself were sometimes frustrating, often comic, always challenging. Her determination to help Italy's half-million institutionalized children took her behind the doors of many orphanages and convents, into close contact with the children and the nuns and priests who cared for them. She studied the records of social agencies, analyzed problems with their staffs, and lectured at social work schools.

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