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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




    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.



    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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