I am often asked, What is Social Work? Usually before I can answer, the question is followed up with “Your job is taking people’s kids away right”. I politely respond by saying social work is providing opportunities to help vulnerable populations increase their outcomes and improve their quality of living.
Often, social workers are envisioned as a woman pulling a child away from their parent’s arms. Although child protection social workers may need to move a child to a safer place, the goal always is to protect the child from alleged abuse, neglect, or dependency.
Social work practice and values intersect with many aspects of the human condition. Many people may be unaware that child protection social workers represent only one area of practice within the social work profession. Not all teachers work in elementary schools, and not all police officers only work in cities answering 911 calls. Social Workers can be found in the public sector in areas such as the court systems, schools, health departments, correction facilities, and with law enforcement agencies.
In the nonprofit sector, you may find social workers as community support providers, community organizers, and case managers in the healthcare industry for cancer or hospice patients. Social Workers also work in the private sector managing their own practices, managed care facilities, and running social enterprises.
Also, social workers can be found engaging the political process as lobbyist, policy makers, and elected officials which has been exemplified by the Congressional Social Work Caucus inaugurated in the United States House of Representatives by the 111th Congress.