Washington, DC- On March 17, social work students and social workers will attend the first Social Work Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill launched by Social Work Members of Congress.
With the support of the Greater Washington Society for Clinical Social Work (GWSCSW) and the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy (CRISP), Howard University (Jenna Simpson), and Amanda Benjamin (University of Maryland) have organized a late-morning advocacy training for students and emerging professionals, to complement the Congressional Social Work Caucus “Social Work Day on the Hill”.
The day’s events will provide an opportunity for students to learn how policy is shaped and how pertinent issues are addressed the affect the profession as a whole. A major focus will be the Social Work Reinvestment Act (SWRA), a groundbreaking initiative created to address the challenges faced by social workers and recommend strategies to maximize the services social workers provide, with recommendations spanning recruitment, research funding, educational debt, salary inequalities, and more.
In-person training will provide an opportunity for millennials to voice ideas and concerns to legislators and congressional staff, to speak up about the need for support for professional growth and innovation in the field, and to experience the power of getting involved in direct advocacy.
The social work profession can be viewed as the backbone of health care and social services with more than 650,000 individuals with social work degrees employed in the field. It is also one of the fastest growing careers in the United States: the Bureau of Labaor Statistics (2012) anticipates that the percentage of Americans who are employed in a variety of social work settings is expected to increase by more than 100,000 jobs by 2022.
A 2013 Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Annual Survey of Social Work reported that 46% of Master’s degrees were awarded to individuals aged 25–34 years, 86.4% were women, and 31.2% were from under-represented groups. By field placements, 22.9% of master’s students were placed in mental health, compared to 1.8% in administration and 0.8% in social policy.
Why are millennials entering into the profession and how can this profession adapt along with society to the millennial culture? Through the use of social media, our advocacy project will provide each social work student an opportunity to share their narrative of what led them to join the profession of social work
Since the beginning of the year, it has been an utmost honor to be able to organize such a meaningful event where social workers can gather together and celebrate the profession. Our project will continue, after Student Advocacy Day. We want students to realize that they do not need to wait to be licensed to get involved or to be politicians to make policy changes. They can visit Capitol Hill and have a voice at the policy making table on our future professional careers. There will be more opportunities to learn, to advocate, and to participate in social media campaigns supporting social work as we begin Social Work Month in March.
I pledge to uphold social work values and engage in generativity with those who train after me. I invite you to join me in paving the way for younger generations to ensure the future of the social work profession.