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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Empowering Social Workers in March

WASHINGTON — March is Social Work Month and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) has established the 2024 theme “Empowering Social Workers.”

Social workers are trained to provide service and action to effect changes in human behavior, emotional responses, and social conditions by the application of the values, principles, methods, and procedures of the profession of social work.

Social workers enter the profession because they truly want to help others. And, they are uniquely qualified to handle these societal troubles. They go through years of education, training, and supervision so they can do the delicate, but important work of meeting people where they are and helping them achieve their goals.

Social workers are trained to work in holistic ways, assisting not just individuals but their entire families, communities, and even the larger society at large — especially if laws and regulations must be changed to benefit people.

Social workers are everywhere — in hospitals, schools, local, state, and federal government, social service agencies, corporations, and veterans centers, as well.

NASW states that social workers are needed more than ever, with the United States grappling with an opioid addiction crisis that has cut across all regions, races, and economic levels.

York-Poquoson Social Services provides services to residents of York County and the City of Poquoson. Assistant Director Jennifer Bolden said, “The work we do is broad and challenging. Most of our days are filled with long hours, high stress and trauma. Our agency’s mission is to assist, promote and protect clients of all ages. The social work profession is constantly evolving, which means that social workers must be adaptable and creative to meet new challenges and trends. We spend countless hours advocating for the well-being of the communities we serve. Our work helps individuals overcome obstacles and improve their quality of life.”

The demand for social workers is reflected in the statistics — the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates the field will grow exponentially.

There will be more than 782,000 social workers in the United States by 2030, and according to BLS, “Overall employment of social workers is projected to grow 7% from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations.”

However, social workers need support to meet the high demand for their vital work. Many social workers must earn a master’s degree and go through the expensive process to gain licensure; yet some aren’t able to afford a livable wage.

“Social workers are vital to the community as we have a direct impact on shaping people’s lives for the better. The importance of social workers in the community that are prepared to step into high-stress and emergency situations cannot be overstated,” said Bolden.

In March, the NASW wants to raise awareness of the social work profession and highlight the need for the government, regulators, and employers to work to improve pay for social workers as a way of investing in addressing challenging social issues.

“To all of the social workers, thank you for showing up and your unwavering commitment to serve on the frontlines. No matter the circumstances, you rise to the occasion to prioritize your communities and, most importantly, keep kids, families, and vulnerable adults safe,” Bolden continued, “Thank you for being a source of strength and stability for the people who rely on you.”

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