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    Where are the Social Workers, and Why Are They Missing from the Global Conversation?

    Some believe Social Work has everything to do with Politics, and some believe social workers should focus on our clients. We all have different perspectives, but we are coming together to discuss them. #swchat Mondays 7PM EST

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    Human rights, economic inequality, access to clean water and improving educational outcomes are consistent narratives mentioned in the media on a daily basis. Where are the social workers, and why are we missing from the national conversation?

    Media outlets are constantly reporting on the challenges and barriers facing teachers, nurses, and  law enforcement. However, the social work community appears to be invisible. There is no doubt in my mind that Social Workers are the restorative power and profession of hope, but this power must be manifested into united action. The current structure of our profession promotes fragmentation and isolation of social workers with different focuses into smaller groups.

    Social Workers are the single factor that permeates through every spectrum affecting the human condition. Social workers are in hospitals, schools, social service agencies, care facilities, prisons, and police departments. Although we may not use the title, social workers can be found holding positions in the government, private sector, nonprofits and even in Congress.

    I believe that removing barriers preventing intra-communication, collaboration, sharing of ideas and resources within our profession is single most important factor in solving issues facing our communities as well as uniting our profession. With the austerity cuts to public agencies, we must be even more innovated in pooling our resources and respond by not being invisible anymore.

    Uniting Social Workers with different areas of focus would be the most powerful force needed to address the important issues facing society today. Our different focuses are not our weakness, but our strongest attribute collectively. But, we must first elevate our profession’s presence on the global stage.

    We must double our public relation efforts in showing our contributions around the world and in our local communities. As social work month starts on March 1st, it’s the best opportunity for us to elevate our profession in the global conversations on poverty, inequality, and human rights.

    World Social Work Day 2016

    On March 15, 2016, please help @SWHelpercom make #socialwork trend world-wide on March 15, 2016 on our most important global day of the year. I am asking everyone to tweet out your thoughts, social work resources, research, articles, or just say Hello World using the hashtag #SocialWork all day long. You can utilize hootsuite or tweetdeck to schedule tweets throughout the day if you are extremely busy.

    Social Work allies and organizations who have social workers working within them, join us on this day by tweeting out articles, resources, information, and research to share with our profession.

    Children’s rights/advocacy groups and family advocate groups, we want to hear from you too. Share your thoughts, articles, information, and/or resources social workers should be familiar with.

    Let’s see if we make Twitter History on this upcoming World Social Work Day!

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    Deona Hooper, MSW is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Social Work Helper, and she has experience in nonprofit communications, tech development and social media consulting. Deona has a Masters in Social Work with a concentration in Management and Community Practice as well as a Certificate in Nonprofit Management both from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

    16 Comments

    16 Comments

    1. Angela Sanders

      Angela Sanders

      March 9, 2014 at 10:43 am

      Hallelujah and Amen!

    2. SWhelper

      September 1, 2013 at 4:43 pm

      Well, I would like to think that I have created such as space with Social Work Helper. The opportunities for Social Workers to share and contribute exist, and we cover topics to educate on the challenges of social work, families, current political climate etc.

      However, it seems Social Workers are waiting on a movement to start instead of making individual contributions which can lead to a broader movement. The question that I have for each of us to answer is what can I do?

    3. jenay

      September 1, 2013 at 9:43 am

      I agree but i also believe that we have to take a closer look at ourselves.

      How are we getting the world to recognize the importance of our role in society?.. Have we created opportunities for visibility? Are we involved in non traditional ways of communicating this to the public.
      I believe we can do better …We ,must cast a wide net and create a space not only ourselves but our future social workers if we truly want to see change

    4. Lisa

      August 31, 2013 at 6:19 pm

      Great article. I live in Canada and we have the same situation here. The media only covers cases that have gone very wrong in a way that blames the social worker. We are still viewed by many people as doing nothing but taking babies from people. I have been in the field over 22 years in a wide variety of settings and I have never once done child protection work. We need to learn how to better educate the media and the pubic about what we do, how we do it and the positive impact we make each and every day.

    5. SWhelper

      November 10, 2012 at 3:04 pm

      Well said….Our profession knows instinctively that there is something wrong because I hear the same narrative all the time. Social workers want and need change, but often feel paralyzed when it comes to action. How do we get out of the needs assessment phase into an action phase?

    6. cuskellk

      November 9, 2012 at 6:57 am

      I agree! Same issues with this here in Ireland. Social workers voices are literally ignored here partly because we argue for solutions that are not conducive to the domjnant discourse (e.g. Our solutions are for the benefit of the oppressed not the oppressors therefore are ignored) and partly because social workers here are being subsumed into being the oppressors. We as social workers need to find the courage to choose the side of the oppressed and follow through on our commitment to social justice by openly advocating for true change. This may be to the detriment of “rising up the career ladder” but it our raison d’etre is social justice then we have to reconcile the fact within ourselves that we are agitators and need to view ourselves within the vein of the radical tradition more. We need to act as leaders not followers or sheep or martys.

    7. Phil Broyles

      July 24, 2012 at 3:30 am

      I believe this comment is correct, “many in academia and the NASW do not believe Public Sector Social Workers are social workers.” Often the focus of academia is on clinical work and research. The community surrounding the school of social work gets to have free workers provided by the school in the form of interns. This in turn feeds the school’s need for easy placements for students and a curriculum that is easily implemented. In my experience I have not seen the local social work school in Portland Oregon do anything to influence the legislature and other systems at a macro systems level. They do research projects for child welfare and some other system’s change projects but are not providing an education tract for students to learn how to advocate for systems change.

    8. debi

      July 20, 2012 at 6:21 am

      One of the difficulties that Social Workers face is the disparity among workers and who may use of the title and the different levels of education. Those workers with advanced degrees that are licensed therapists are likely to engage in clinical work. Even so, whether we are providing direct clinical service or case services, social workers have direct contact with disenfranchised populations and most likely, have the greatest understanding of the needs of the under-served. Working in the public sector and having an LCSW and an MPA, I can honestly say that I sense there is an institutional stigmatization of Social Workers, regardless of how expansive our knowledge is. Policy and legislation is always made by the elite, and Social Workers are not part of the elite. As hard as we work and as diverse as we are to work in so many settings, for some reason, the consensus would be hypocrisy to compensate Social Workers as well as other health care providers. Yet, Social Workers are the ones that everyone turns to when all resources are exhausted. If we are so needed, we are so undervalued. Even so, it is up to us to advocate for ourselves and for the profession to be valued. Many agencies and organizations have their own agendas and policies that sometimes conflict with the values and ethics of the profession and it is important for workers to always advocate for the profession, and their clinical license. Protecting the boundaries of the profession will improve outcomes for children and families because the expectation and blurred boundaries amongst agencies that create policies and procedures that conflict with legal and ethical duties and roles will be better defined between child welfare monitoring agencies and healthcare providers. An understanding of the role of the Social Worker within the context of the organization or agency is crucial to improved outcomes.

    9. Socialworkhelper

      July 20, 2012 at 2:20 am

      Floyd, you have impeccable credentials…..I have a slightly different view as to why we are missing from the national conversation. One of the primary issues in my opinion is that many in academia and the NASW do not believe Public Sector Social Workers are social workers. Many advocate for a name change and complete separation from the men and women who implement and develop policies for the social safety net that serves the least among us. Although this move may protect Social Work Tittles for those with licenses, how will a name change improve outcomes for children and families?

    10. Floyd Robinson

      July 18, 2012 at 11:46 am

      As a former adjunct at two schools of social work, former VP NASW MI Social Legislative Committee, current Phd student in clinical social work/medical social worker, and founder of the Institiute for Community Social Work, I have been around and seen alot in our field. We definitely need a conversation regarding our absence from national issues and dialogues that involve our profession and clients. However, I don’t believe it will happen. I’m not totally sure why. But my hunch is that we do not see ourselves as powerful people. Not for real we don’t! We work mostly with the marginalized and in many ways, we feel marginalized. I don’t believe we actually are but perception is reality.

    11. Socialworkhelper

      July 17, 2012 at 2:19 am

      I agree with what you are saying to some degree. Being licensed or not is not the issue because it does nothing to regulate the operation of the agency. Child Welfare agencies are not required to be accredited which means there is no established minimum standards or training required for the staff being hired to provide services as well as the Administrators creating the policies. Being angry with the social worker is not a solution. Advocating for mandatory accreditation is an achievable solution. Hospitals, schools, law enforcement, mental health agencies, and so forth are all accredited institutions with minimum standards and training implemented from hiring to the director. The public would be outraged if someone off the street walked into a police station, given a gun, a badge, and told to go be the police. Essentially, this is what is occurring in Child Welfare agencies. This is the change we all should be advocating for in order to increase outcomes for families, better work conditions, and more qualified social workers.

    12. Donna Parker

      July 17, 2012 at 1:50 am

      In Virginia, city social workers are not licensed professionals, do not hold to a standard of professional conduct, and have long outdated training. For instance: They still argue “parental alienation,” which has long been renounced by every profession, including LICENSED social workers, physicians, and lawyers. The APA had a presidential task force more than a decade ago to end the stupidity and damage to the lives of DV victims, and national judges associations have repeatedly published their opinion that it should not be allowed in Court because it is inherently unreliable. Yet these unlicensed “social workers” are incapacitated to help victims of child abuse because they are handicapped by this theory, the originator of which plunged a butcher knife into his chest before they ever entered college. The best thing social workers could do to improve the status of their profession would be to support legislation that requires professional licensure. The excuse I’ve heard for not having it is “she has a master’s degree. ” The problem with that is you can’t lose a degree for lying in Court. You can’t lose a degree if you cannot pass a psych evaluation. But no one who lies under oath or cannot pass a psych evaluation should be allowed to continue to destroying children’s lives year after year.

    13. Wendy Provence Ross

      July 16, 2012 at 6:03 pm

      Professional social workers have the ability and responsibility to help educate the policy makers and society re the interconnectedness of many of our social woes. We can help guide the actions of politicians to move these discussions beyond the realm of divided political rhetoric into the arena of effective advocacy with a focus on solutions. We must present cogent arguments and evidence, and to this end, a tremendous amount of research needs to be accomplished.

    14. politicalsocialworker

      July 15, 2012 at 8:36 pm

      Reblogged this on The Political Social Worker and commented:
      Make your voice heard.

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    Justice

    Understanding DACA & the Role Social Workers Play in Advancing Immigration Justice

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    Written by Christeen Badie & Karina Velasco

    There are approximately 10.5 million undocumented individuals in the United States according to Pew Research. Immigrants often leave their home countries seeking better opportunities and a brighter future. Refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants are escaping poverty, political conflict, natural disasters, and violence. To provide limited relief to some undocumented immigrants, on June 15, 2012, former President Barack Obama used his executive power to create the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA provides approved individuals with work authorization and a social security
    number, allowing recipients to apply for driver licenses and identification cards. DACA is a deferred action, meaning that it is discretionary and available only for certain undocumented people who came to the U.S. as children. To qualify for DACA, individuals must meet strict eligibility criteria, which include: arriving in the U.S. before the age of 16, meeting certain educational requirements, being under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, never being convicted of a felony, and never posing a threat to national
    security or public safety. In the following, we’ll explore this program further and the role social workers can play in regards to immigration justice.

    DACA in Action

    When DACA was first introduced, it brought a sense of relief to the hundreds of thousands of individuals who could benefit from this executive action. One DACA recipient, who was interviewed for this article, discussed in-depth what DACA meant to her and her family. Nataly*, a 32-year-old Mexican woman, was brought to the United States by a coyote at the young age of six. Before DACA, Nataly expressed living in constant fear of deportation and arrest. She stated, “As a kid without documentation, I was embarrassed to talk about my status. When other students talked about going to college, I felt like there was no future for me and I couldn’t move forward.” DACA provided hope to hundreds of thousands of young people like Nataly. After gaining DACA, Nataly described feeling relieved and excited. “I felt hope, happiness, and security about my future. I felt like I could become whoever I wanted; although I faced racism as a DACA recipient trying to enroll in college, I didn’t give up.” DACA recipients must pay out-of-state tuition at most universities, regardless of how long they have been in that State, and in most States they do not qualify for financial student aid.

    A Deeper Look at DACA

    To fully understand DACA, it is critical to know that DACA does not lead to a path to citizenship or permanent residency and it can be revoked at any time. Although approximately 643,560 people have benefitted from this action, DACA has received wide criticism and opposition from citizens and political figures according to the Center for American Progress. Despite being upheld by the Supreme Court, DACA’s critics cast it as an unlawful solution to deal with undocumented immigrants residing in the United States. As we continue to witness the legal battles unfold in the courts in attempts to rescind the program, Nataly cries and expresses being scared because the U.S. government has access to all of her information and can easily locate her now. Just like Nataly, many DACA recipients, often referred to as Dreamers, are experiencing fears, anxiety, and sometimes depression. They constantly worry about what the court will decide and whether the decision will affect their ability to continue attending school, working, staying in the country, and pursuing their dreams. In addition, they face the persistent fear of deportation and the inability to support their families emotionally and financially. The lives of hundreds of thousands of Dreamers continue to be in turmoil due to the lack of comprehensive immigration reform.

    Today, the DACA program is 9 years old and as we look into the future, we need to recognize that Dreamers have demonstrated that they belong in the United States. They are our colleagues, neighbors, friends, and essential workers. They pay $613.8 million in mortgage payments and $2.3 billion in rental payments annually. They also pay $5.7 billion in federal taxes and $3.1 billion in state and local taxes every year. They are part of the fabric of this country. They make tremendous economic contributions to our society, and many of them are on the frontlines treating patients suffering from physical illness and mental health issues caused by the global Coronavirus pandemic.

    The Responsibility of Social Workers

    As social workers, we are tasked with fighting for social justice for all people. Whether we are allies or are directly affected by this issue, it is imminent that we support and raise our voice on behalf of all the Dreamers. Undocumented immigrants are a vulnerable population and social workers should challenge how Congress, organizations, universities, and all other institutions see and treat Dreamers. Nataly is now a dental hygienist, a small business owner, and a mother of two. This is the only home she knows and remembers. You can help Nataly and hundreds of thousands of Dreamers like her by calling your representatives in Congress, signing petitions, attending calls to action, and educating the public. For more information about how you can get involved, check out immigrant rights organizations such as United We Dream, the UndocuBlack Network, and join the Social Workers United for Immigration network (SWUFI).

    *A pseudonym was used to protect the identity of the interviewee.

     

    SWUFI is a network committed to the well-being and advancement of immigrants,
    asylum seekers, refugees, and fighting for their rights. Together, we envision access to
    resources for immigrants, an immigration movement where social workers stand strong
    alongside immigrants and allies at the local, state, and federal levels, and collaboration
    among social workers that includes peer support, and educational opportunities. To join,
    send an email to socialworkersforimmigration@gmail.com.

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    News

    Digital.com Survey: Most Consumers Unlikely to Buy from Companies with Opposing Political Views

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    Digital.com, a leading independent review website for small business online tools, products, and services, has published a new study to assess consumer behavior towards companies that express political views or affiliation. The survey report examines responses from 1,250 Americans ages 18 and older and highlights key points on how politics and social issues influence their buying decisions.

    The study shows that 47 percent of consumers are unlikely to buy products or services from companies not aligned with their political views. Women are also more likely to make purchasing decisions based on political leanings. Fifty-three percent of women say they are unlikely to buy from companies with different political views, compared to 38 percent of men. The top reasons women consider politics when patronizing businesses are that they do not want their money to support causes they oppose, and they want it to have an impact beyond the purchase.

    Similarly, women and Hispanic/Latino respondents are least likely to buy from companies that do not have stated DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) policies. The survey indicates that Forty-four percent of women and 50 percent of Hispanic/Latino shoppers will consider these policies when making a purchase. DEI policies are also important among Democrats, with 46 percent who say they are unlikely to patronize businesses that do not have them. Thirty-nine percent of independents and 29 percent of Republicans are against buying products or services from companies without DEI policies.

    “Brand alignment and company values are crucial when it comes to attracting loyal customers, and this insightful data can help businesses effectively shape their policies and messaging,” says digital marketing executive Huy Nguyen. “Our study proves that American consumers prefer to spend their money with companies that share their political views and support the same causes.”

    Research findings also show that sustainability issues are more significant among specific age groups. Fifty-five percent of Gen Zers, individuals ages 18-24, say they are unlikely to buy from a company that does not have a published sustainability policy. Forty-one percent of respondents aged 25 to 34 years old and 47 percent of 45 to 54-year-olds also have similar views when it comes to sustainability issues and topics.

    Digital.com commissioned this study to gain insight into how political and social issues can influence consumer spending habits. Respondents were surveyed regarding their political views and the importance of a company’s political alignment and policies when making purchasing decisions. The survey was distributed on July 21, 2021 via Pollfish, the online survey platform. To access the complete report, please visit here.

     

    About Digital.com

    Digital.com reviews and compares the best products, services, and software for running or growing a small business website or online shop. The platform collects twitter comments and uses sentiment analysis to score companies and their products. Digital.com was founded in 2015 and formerly known as Review Squirrel. To learn more, visit their website.

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    Employment

    Cultivating an Equitable and Anti-Racist Workplace

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    2020 was filled with unprecedented events in all facets of life, and, as many have noted across the globe, the year became a landmark for the call to action against racism.

    From the incident in Central Park, where a white woman called the police on a black bird watcher, to the murder of George Floyd by police officers, and when the police officers who murdered Breonna Taylor in her home were not indicted for their involvement in her murder, it is clear that racism is still very prevalent and pervasive. It reaches far and wide, including at home and in the workplace, where power dynamics and structural racism can be multiplied. 

    Through his talk, “Social Work’s Role in Black Lives Matter,” Wayne Reid discussed racism’s reach into social workers’ professional lives. In the workplace, there are certain barriers that people of color face that white people do not. To address these barriers and inequities, equality, diversity, and inclusion advisory groups are often created. Too often, the burden of creating these groups and addressing racism in the workplace falls solely on people of color, when it is a fight that requires everyone’s involvement, especially those in positions of power. This is part of the push for people to go beyond being non-racist and to become anti-racist– actively fighting against racism and advocating for changes against racist policies and practices. It is an active, ongoing process, not only in one’s personal life but in professional environments as well.

    Creating an Anti-Racist Workplace

    Wayne works for the British Association of Social Workers (BASW), which currently has a goal to create a universal anti-racist framework that is applicable to all aspects of the social work field. This includes creating an anti-racist workplace, and Wayne and the BASW have an idea for how that would look. As Wayne described, an anti-racist workplace would have a very specific anti-racist mission statement, making sure to interview people of color, to integrate an anti-racism mentality into policies and procedures, to provide adequate anti-racism training to all staff, and to conduct annual pay reviews for employees of color to ensure they are being paid fairly relative to their white colleagues. With these steps, workplaces would have to take active steps to ensure they were discussing race within the workplace and enforcing anti-racist policies.

    On top of these ideas for an anti-racist workplace, including mandatory professional development courses aimed at educating people on how to be anti-racist, anti-discriminatory, and anti-oppressive would be beneficial. There are already experts in the world of anti-racism who have done the groundwork, and their expertise can be utilized to help implement anti-racist practices within workplaces. For example, Stanford University has created an “Anti-Racism Toolkit” for managers to better equip themselves to address racism in the workplace and move towards a more inclusive environment, and the W.K Kellogg Foundation has created a Racial Equity Resource Guide full of training methods and workshops to provide structure for anti-racist professional development.

    Leadership Inequality

    Wayne also discussed the importance of leadership programs for people of color within their workplaces. In the US, black people only make up 3.2% of senior leadership roles, and only 0.8% of Fortune 500 CEO positions. Employers need to sufficiently invest in leadership training programs and provide the resources to ensure the success of people of color within them. Leadership programs for people of color would help address the lack of people of color in leadership positions within the social work field and beyond. For social work specifically, in conjunction with these leadership programs, employers should create programs allowing social workers of color to mentor senior staff members as well, providing insight for them regarding the challenges people of color face in the workplace. That said, while the benefits of this type of program are important, boundary setting and confidentiality are just as vital and would need to be well thought out prior to implementation.

    Addressing Education

    In order to assist in diversifying leadership, higher education must also be addressed. Despite the increase in people of color attending college, there is still a large imbalance in representation compared to the general US population.

    For the social work field, it is important to address the accessibility of social work education programs. Because they are often expensive and have numerous requirements for entry, entry into the field is inaccessible for many. They also need to include a more deliberately anti-racist curriculum, which can be guided by people of color through their lived experiences, as well as experts in the field. The field of social work has long been dominated by white women, and that imbalance has impacted the curriculum that we use today.

    Moving Forward

    As long as people continue to ignore racism and the effects it continues to have, nothing will change. Wayne and the BASW’s work to integrate anti-racist education and policies into the workplace and social work schools is crucial to the future of social work and the progress of anti-racist work. Social work needs to play a large role in the changing of policies and practices to ensure that the future is more equitable for all.

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