In A New World, Social Work Leads the Way

This is a sponsored article by California State University at Northridge

How Cal State Northridge is doing its part.

The pandemic, if nothing else, exacerbated the unequal distribution of resources in society. For millions of people, access to food, shelter, and health care is now more uncertain than ever.

What’s emerging is a new, somewhat dire need for experienced social workers – professionals able to compassionately address a disparate and evolving set of issues. Not only here in Los Angeles, but all over the world.

For much of the pandemic, the field has championed relief efforts, such as the rent moratorium. This provided a necessary, if temporary, reprieve from the daily fear of eviction. Outside of California, however, this moratorium is over. As are federal unemployment benefits.

And the impact is tragically visible. In California alone, the homeless population is over 151,000, with 41,000 of that in Los Angeles. And that’s just according to official estimates. The true number, allege some experts, may be much higher.

This is the sad, beautiful truth of social work. No matter where a client is, whether it’s in the classroom, at home, or on the streets, the field will be there.

But the field itself is evolving, too.

Following the death of George Floyd, social workers are increasingly involved in policing, augmenting first responders with a new option: one aiming to mitigate crisis and, as importantly, prevent the use of force.

As cities and states consider policing alternatives, social workers can help to ensure each community’s voice is heard, especially communities of color. Gaining popularity, the idea is to offer a more compassionate approach to law enforcement. Rather than responding with aggression, an arriving unit could instead respond with care, assessing the situation from a mental health standpoint, not one of criminality.

Likewise, opportunity youth – sometimes referred to as “at-risk” – now face many new challenges (among them, a skills gap from a year of remote learning). On top of food scarcity and uncertain housing, there’s also the real risk of contracting COVID. And for these youth, who often lack access to health care, this can be especially dangerous.

In all these cases, a humane approach is needed. Many social work programs incorporate hands-on experience, giving students access to the communities they’ll serve. One such program is the Master of Social Work (MSW) at California State University, Northridge (CSUN).

Unlike many social work programs, CSUN’s MSW expands participants’ career possibilities by offering a generalist approach. This enables graduates to work at ALL levels of the field: individual/family (micro); group/community (mezzo); and societal/policy (macro).

The program is offered fully online in two- and three-year formats. The two-year option is a full-time program with an intensive curriculum designed to help students complete their degrees and enter the field in as little time as possible. The three-year option, on the other hand, is an excellent choice for those who would prefer the same curriculum at a less intensive pace.

The master’s degree, which is often ranked among the best in the country, promotes the well-being of urban communities. Through its curriculum, participants learn how to assess a community’s needs from the inside, in large part through active listening.

As the field continues to evolve, those who comprise it must evolve too. That begins with knowledge of the new world, but ends, as it always has, with the people who need us most – the ones for whom we care.

Helping Out: What Social Workers Do

By: Tricia Hussung

Becoming a social worker is an ideal career path for those seeking to help others and make a positive impact in their communities. In general, social workers “help people solve and cope with problems in their everyday lives,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). They work closely with individuals and communities to assess needs and provide both resources and support.

The overall aim of social workers is to improve quality of life for their clients by providing access to resources and services that meet their specific needs. They may work with children, adults, people with disabilities, or older populations. Specific job responsibilities vary depending on client type, but all social workers are responsible for maintaining a caseload and keeping detailed records concerning each of their clients.

One of the most important elements to a social worker’s career is advocacy. They can help raise awareness about key issues on the local, state, or even national level, serving as a voice for their clients. As part of this work, they may work closely with community leaders and organizations to develop new resources or improve existing initiatives.

Social work is not a one-size-fits-all job. There are a variety of different types of social workers, each with their own clients and specific responsibilities, from treating drug addiction to locating qualified foster families. The following are some social work specialization options.

Child and Family Social Workers

This type of social worker serves families who need help. This includes protecting children in vulnerable situations and helping parents access resources such as housing, healthcare, or nutrition benefits. Another important responsibility for child and family social workers is arranging adoptions or placing children in foster care. Employment of child and family social workers is expected to grow 6 percent through 2024.

School Social Workers

As the name suggests, school social workers usually work within school systems. They work closely with students, parents, and administrators to “improve students’ academic performance and social development,” according to the BLS. They might address issues such as bullying, truancy, or misbehavior. In many cases, struggling students are referred to school social workers by their teachers. The BLS reports that demand for school social workers is the same (6 percent) as for child and family social workers through 2024.

Clinical Social Workers

Also known as licensed clinical social workers, these social workers are responsible for diagnosing and treating clients with mental health or substance abuse issues. Through individual or group therapy, clinical social workers help individuals create strategies to cope with existing issues and change their behavior.

Clinical social workers may refer clients to other healthcare resources such as psychiatrists or support groups. They usually work in private practice. The BLS reports that employment of mental health and substance abuse social workers is projected to grow 19 percent through 2024; that rate is much faster than the national average for all occupations.

Healthcare Social Workers

This type of social worker is responsible for helping patients “understand their diagnosis and make the necessary adjustments to their lifestyle, housing, or healthcare,” according to the BLS. This might include conducting support groups and providing information on patient resources like home care. Like clinical social work, the healthcare social work specialization is experiencing rapid growth. The BLS reports a 19 percent increase in employment through 2024.

Social Worker Education Requirements

For entry-level social work roles, a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) is required. BSW programs prepare students for social work roles that involve working directly with clients. They “teach students about diverse populations, human behavior, social welfare policy, and ethics in social work,” the BLS says. Students must complete internships or supervised fieldwork as part of their education, as accredited BSW programs require a minimum of 400 hours of supervised field experience.

Clinical social workers must have a master’s degree in social work (MSW) along with two years of work experience in a supervised clinical setting, the BLS notes. Licensure is also needed, and specific licensure and certification requirements vary by state. The median annual salary for social workers is $45,900.

Successful Strategies to Help Students Prepare for Job Searching After Graduation

As graduation approaches, many students are contemplating about the next step.  Both graduates and undergraduates are on their way through the job process searching for various post-graduation opportunities. As many know, finding a job does not just instantly happen and finding a job you actually want can be a miracle. For us younger professionals, it may seem impossible to find a full-time position and we may feel discourage approaching the work force. Part of the reasons for this are societal factors that we cannot control, but students can decrease the stress that may arise from graduating and open multiple doors.

images (35)While we are preparing ourselves for the next step after college or graduate school, the weird thing is that many students just sit back and relax thinking everything is going to work out for them. It is very frustrating when students think that once they graduate, opportunities are going to come right to them. This is not reality. The real world is competitive but vast, and all you have to do is go out and look. You have to prove to your community and yourself that you are a professional and capable of the job you want to get.

Here are a few easy things to do that every student can do that make their professional development grow:

Challenge yourself at your internship. I am tired of hearing students saying they do nothing at their internship or it is too easy. You have the ability to do more opportunities. Evaluate your current responsibilities and speak with your supervisor about doing more things. Meet with other people in the agency and ask them for help. Helping out the agency in ways they need shows you are willing to work and contribute to the success of the agency, not just yourself. Internships are not only learning experiences, but crucial to professional development.

Network! Network! Network! The majority of jobs are found through networking! People hire people they like, and people connect people they like. The more people who like you, the more people who can help you. Meet as many people as you can at your internship. Just Go to events, meet people at programs, conduct informational interviews! Network! Many of the social workers I have met, have not been the greatest at networking. Starting to network as a current student is a great way to practice, develop professional skills, and build connections for future opportunities.

Find a Mentor! Having a mentor is probably the greatest thing you could ever do. I have a mentor right now, and he is awesome. We get to talk about our interested fields and connect with each other on a professional and personal level. Find a mentorship program to participate in, connect with alumni from your school, or reach out to people in the desired career industry. Having someone with experience who will then offer advice or advocate for you, is definitely a resource you want to have. You never know who they know or what they can do for you later on.

Join a Local Chapter of Professional Organization!  This is really surprising because many students do not realize the opportunities from joining a relevant professional organization. The main reason why you should join is: They want younger people involved! They are established professionals in your field who can give you advice, trainings, connections, and maybe even a job. I think it would be smart as a student to connect with people in your field who can connect you with a job after graduation. Reach out the a local chapter of a professional organization related to your career interests. You definitely should be involved!

Attend trainings! There are tons of trainings out there for professional development and opportunities to learn more than you can in school. There are two main benefits from attending them: you get information you can put on your resume or apply the material to a current position AND you get to meet people in your profession. It’s a win win! Go learn and network!

Volunteer for LOCAL organizations! Students sometimes get in that bubble of their college and do not branch out into the local community. Volunteer with local community members. Help out at a special event. It shows you care more than yourself. Many of you intern for nonprofit organizations, and volunteering for the fundraising department or any needed areas could put you in a great position with the agency.  A great position that could lead to a job. Plus, you meet more people and more opportunities arise! (Hint: if you didn’t get the points about meeting people, then I am telling you right now. It’s important!)

All these tips are good strategies social work students can be doing to build our career development. We students are going to be the leaders of the future, and we need to develop our professional profile. Even doing one of these tips, can give you an advantage to either get a job or obtain better opportunities. Even though a Master of Social Work degree is a professional degree, the education forgets about professional development. We need to prove right away that we are capable of performing the tasking jobs we are preparing to have.

Why Higher Education in the 21st Century is No Longer Optional

Education has long been considered one of the gateways to socioeconomic success in the United States. In today’s labor market, however, education is more essential to lifelong economic success than ever before.

graduationcapsAs Alan Krueger, President Obama’s Chairman of the Council of the Economic Advisers, explains, the American economy is experiencing a “skill-biased technology change,” where technology, automation, and globalization are replacing the need for low-skill labor (2012). As demand for low-skill labor declines, individuals without a high school or college degree are having an increasingly difficult time finding gainful employment than their counterparts did in previous decades.

On the other hand, individuals with analytic skills and college degrees have benefited from this skill-biased technology change, as these individuals have the educational training to meet the demands of the changing labor market. The decline in union membership (20 percent in 1982 compared to 12 percent in 2012) has further decreased the availability of livable wages and job security for employees with lower levels of education, as unions have been shown to protect low-skill jobs from unequal shifts in the labor market (Card, as cited in Krueger, 2012). In many cases, less educated workers are forced to work at or near the minimum wage, an hourly rate that has decreased in relative value since the 1980s (Lee, as cited in Krueger, 2012).

The Education Wage Gap

This economic shift is one of the primary reasons the wage gap between high school graduates and college graduates has soared over the past four decades, contributing to an increase in economic inequality in the United States.

  • While education had been a predictor of income for several generations, according to The Hamilton Project, over the past 40 years, incomes for college graduates have increased by more than one-third while decreasing for individuals with only a high school degree or less (Greenstone, Harris, Li, Looney, Patashnik, 2012).
  • The National Center for Education Statistics (2012) reports that in 2010, the median annual income for a young adult with a bachelor’s degree was $45,000, compared with $37,000 for an associate’s degree, $29,900 for those with a high school diploma, and $21,000 for those without a high school degree or GED.

These statistics suggest that young adults with a college degree earn 50 percent more than individuals with only a high school degree and twice as much as individuals who did not complete high school.

  • The Pew Charitable Trust (2012) cites that over 80 percent of those who do not complete high school earn less than $30,000 annually, and nearly half are unemployed compared with only 15 percent of college graduates.
  • According to Looney and Greenstone (2011), after adjusting for inflation, the median annual income for a male in 1970 with only a high school degree was close to $50,000, compared with $26,000 in 2012.

This increasing income differential between high school and college degree earners represents a fundamental shift in the educational needs of American citizens.  Today, education is not simply a gateway to economic improvement but is one of the key mechanisms for economic survival. While there was a time when an individual with a high school degree could participate and prosper in the middle class, this phenomenon is no longer a reality. Our current economy demands that Americans receive quality basic education to better insure their success in institutions of higher learning.

The Importance of Education for Low-Income Students

Today education represent the primary vehicle for economic mobility. This fact is especially true for low-income students. According to the Pew Charitable Trust’s Economic Mobility Project (2012):

  • A four-year college degree programs was the largest source of economic mobility and stability for those living in poverty.
  • Only 10 percent of people with a college degree raised in the bottom quintile of family income remained there in adulthood, compared to half of those who did not go to college.
  • Having a college degree makes a person three times more likely to rise from the bottom of the economic spectrum all the way to the top.
  • While individuals at the bottom quintile of family income are the least likely to surpass their parents’ income or wealth, a college degree earners from the bottom quintile of family income make the largest gains in absolute wealth compared with the income level they were raised in, and 85 percent had greater income than their parents did.

What these figures represent is that successfully completing high school followed by successfully completing college are essential steps for lifting people out of poverty.

Education, Income, and Well-Being

While income and wealth are not the only benefits of education, the realities of living in poverty make the link between education and income hard to ignore. Beyond income, however, higher levels of education have been shown to:

  • Increase health and longevity,
  • Increase civic participation,
  • Decrease crime and incarceration rates (Lochner, 2011).
  • Increase in productivity,
  • Decrease in reliance on disability and welfare payments,
  • Increase marriage rates,
  • Decease the likelihood of raising children in poverty (Greenstone, Harris, Li, Looney, Patashnik, 2012).

While many of these factors may be related to income, citizens with higher levels of education have better access to information about health and preventative care, child development, personal finances, risk-behavior and lifestyle choices compared with individuals with less education.

Conclusion and the Role of Social Workers

Education in the 21st century represents a critical avenue for economic mobility, security, and social prosperity. In short, higher education has become the primary gateway to the middle class.  However, higher education is still discussed as an “option” in many American schools and the high cost of colleges and universities reinforces old believes that college is a “privileged” experience. Both of these notions are false and the mechanisms supporting them must be reformed. Higher education must be affordable and our high schools must be explicitly designed to prepare and transition student into higher education settings.

The definition of higher education must also be explored. How well do trade schools equip students with marketable skills? Some trade schools are excellent while others simply bring people an inch above the poverty line. As such, some technical education programs should be considered higher education and supported, while others should be improved or phased out.

Social workers can play a pivotal role in helping families and systems adjust to the realities of the skill-biased technology change:

  • When we work with families and adolescents, we can empower our clients to make more informed decisions about the future by making them aware of this valuable information.
  • We can further transform our direct practice orientation to where higher education is a universal treatment goal and desired outcome for all consumers.
  • When working in school settings we can foster a college-bound culture among our students and fellow faculty, and address shortcomings within administrations where failing to continue education remains acceptable.
  • In community practice settings we can advocate a “cradle to college” continuum of care and bolster support for community colleges, scholarships, and higher education transition/support programs.
  • Politically, we can advocate for continued education reform, an investment in schools serving low-income communities, support legislation aimed at making higher education more affordable and continuing support to effective community-colleges and trade schools.
  • Finally, in schools of social work, we must ensure that social work students understand that education is a one of the primary empowerment method for out clients and is one of the most successfully mechanism for overcoming disenfranchisement.

The skill-biased technology change in the American labor market is real and we have yet to fully adjust to it. While raising the minimum wage is an important step towards supporting low-income workers, this effort will not be enough to combat the effects of the changing demand for labor. Higher education must become the norm and it should be accessible to ALL Americans.

References

Greenstone, M., Harris, M., Li, K., Looney, A., Patashnik, J. (2012). A dozen economic facts about k-12 education. The Hamilton Project, Sept 2012 Policy Memo.

Lochner, L. (2011). The importance of education on crime, health and mortality, and civic engagement. The Vox Organization.

Looney, A., Greenstone, M. (2011). What is happening to America’s less-skilled workers? The importance of education and training in today’s economy. The Hamilton Project

Krueger, A. (2012). The rise and consequences of inequality in the United States. The White House Blogs.

National Center for Education Statistics. (2012). The Condition of Education 2012 (NCES 2012- 045). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC.

Pew Charitable Trust. (2012). Perusing the American dream: economic mobility across generations. July 2012 Report. Washington D.C.: Author.

Learn How To Be A Consultant Series with Dr. Michael Wright

In case you missed the phenomenal chat with Dr. Michael Wright, I have compiled his Social Work Consultant series into one article, and I have attached the link to the archived chat. This will allow you to easily access the vast amount of information he provides in his Consultant series.

Series 1. Defining the Social Worker as a Consultant

Social Workers are uniquely qualified to operate as consultants at all ecological systems levels. Our mandate of individual change and social change ensure that we are always mindful of the consequences of individual creativity and organizational innovation. Our ethical parameters provide a clear process for reviewing policy, corporate decision making,… Continue Reading »

Series 2. As the Consultant, What the Social Worker Already Knows

Social work professional education includes in its core curriculum some important constructs that are also vital to the social worker as consultant. In addition to reinforcing the mantra of individual change and social change, the constructs provide us with a vocabulary for discussing human behavior in the social environment.  Perhaps… Continue Reading »

Series 3. As the Consultant, What the Social Worker Must Learn

A Matter of Roles (and Rolls?) Consider that, as consultant, you must gather the ingredients, the cooking pans, the oven, the electricity, and the dinner guests. You cannot simply show up with napkins and a winning personality. The ability to plan and manage complexity across systems bakes success into the…Continue Reading »

Series 4. Managing Your Consulting Business

The social worker will certainly be skilled in connecting with and informing clients. The social worker as consultant will also need to manage a business. Social work tends to attract persons whose primary concern is not money, who do not typically publicize their achievements, who favor trust-based relationships, and who… Continue Reading »

Series 5. Four Context for the Social Worker as a Consultant

Launching and sustaining any business depends on three things: Development of a brand, marketing of brand, and truth in advertising. In other words, first, you have to come up with something to sell. Second, people have to hear about and understand what you are offering. Third, your product or service…Continue Reading »

Series 6. Consulting with Start-ups

BUSINESS PLAN The first and most important task for any start-up is a two-page executive summary outlining your business model. In two pages, you need to be able to summarize the market, operations, management, and financial projections of your new company. It must have real information (not fluff and wishes),… Continue Reading »

Series 7. Ethics of the Social Work Consultant

I am nearing the end of the “Social Worker as Consultant” series (only 1 post remaining). I am going to publish the complete series as a text book. I am soliciting your help. Would you like to write a chapter for the book? Let me know your ideas. I think… Continue Reading »

Series 8. Educating the Social Worker as a Consultant

THE CURRENT SOCIAL WORK CURRICULUM: The standard social work education curriculum has 5 areas of inquiry: Practice Methods, Policy, Ethics, Human Behavior in the Social Environment, and Social Research.  The social worker as consultant may organize these into two categories: Systems of Practice with Human Behavior and Social Mechanisms. “Systems… Continue Reading »

Social Work White House Briefing Presentations Now Available

As previously reported, Council for Social Work Education joined with the White House Office of Public Engagement on September 25 in hosting the White House briefing “Addressing the Social Determinants of Health in a New Era: The Role of Social Work Education.”

Presentations from the event are now available. Follow the links below to access the presentations of a number of Obama administration officials:

White House Briefing
Aaron Bishop and Roslyn Holliday

Roslyn Holliday Moore, MS, Office of Behavioral Health Equity, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

  • PowerPoint Slides (PDF) 

Aaron Bishop, MSSW, Deputy Commissioner, Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Administration for Community Living, HHS

Data used for prepared remarks:

•         Visualizing Health Policy (Kaiser Family Foundation)

•         Americans With Disabilities 2010 (Census Bureau)

•         Census and Disability (Census Bureau)

The New Expectations of Health Care

Stephane Philogene, PhD, Associate Director, Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, National Institutes of Health, HHS

  • PowerPoint Slides (PDF)

A National Dialogue on Mental Health

Brian Altman, JD, Legislative Director, and Paolo del Vecchio, MSW, Director, Center for Mental Health Services, SAMHSA, HHS

  • PowerPoint Slides (PDF)

Building Workforce Capacity to Meet the Need

Marcia K. Brand, PhD, Deputy Administrator, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), HHS

[gview file=”https://swhelper.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Panel4-SocialWorkWHBriefingslidesbrand.pdf”]

Source: Council for Social Work Education

Press Release: Social Work Helper Magazine was not involved in the creation of this content.

Ethics of the Social Worker as Consultant (7th in Series)

The social work Code of Ethics (naswdc.org/pubs/code) is robust enough to cover the activities of the social worker as consultant. Its ethical principles of service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence remain true and applicable for social workers in every practice arena. Yet, a review of other codes can provide more tailored guidance for specific consulting activities. The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) offer some additional considerations for the social worker as consultant. 

Multi-Code Review

AFP Code of Ethical Principles

The social worker as consultant will often be involved in fundraising and other capital development practice with organizations. The Association of Fundraising Professionals (afpnet.org) provides guidelines for such consultations. In addition to similar principles to service, integrity and competence, the AFP guidelines speak specifically to contracts, intellectual property, stewardship and compensation.

Members of AFP are counseled to remain “responsive and available to organizations…before, during, and after any sale of materials and/or services” (AFP Ethical Standard 8). Even after the contract is completed, the social worker as consultant should not abandon the relationship. Consider the expertise you provide and the services areas you practice within. If you must separate completely at the conclusion of a contract, provide support to the former client by making a solid referral.

Intellectual property and respect for copyright laws are especially important for technology implementation and social media including web sites and blog development. It is also applicable in print and advertising including stock photo sites. Two common mistakes are utilizing a corporate logo that is not authorized to be included in your marketing materials. Another is changing a logo, even the logo of your client, without express written permission of the parent corporation. In addition, understand laws related to the use of photos, even photos you take at client-sponsored public events. It is advisable to inform and reasonably seek model releases from photo subjects when photos will be used in promotional materials. Be sure to maintain model releases on file.

Stewardship includes putting money to the use intended by the donor. For the social worker as consultant, stewardship includes the integrity to educate the donor on the organization’s intended and real purposes for donations. This may include training the client organization on the virtue of transparency and the value of donor relationships long-term.

AFP guidelines on compensation are especially intriguing. Ethical Standard 21 states that “Members shall not accept compensation or enter into a contract that is based on a percentage of contributions; nor shall members accept finder’s fees or contingent fees.” For the social worker as consultant, this suggests that contracts are to be flat fee-based. Agree on a fair price for the consultation you provide. Do not fixate on what the organization may build from the sharing of your expertise. This disciplines you as consultant to balance your expertise, the need of the organization, and your profit motive in contract negotiations. Understand the value of what you offer, the competition in the market, and what it takes to do the job right. Do not sell yourself short.

WHO Agenda

The World Health Organization (who.int) offers an important pattern for the social worker as consultant in its stated agenda. Consider the compatibility between the holistic health and well-being goals of social work and the health systems promotion goals of the WHO. The WHO describes their agenda as consisting of objectives, strategy, and operations—a good model for social work intervention and innovation.

The WHO health objectives are 1) Promoting development and 2) Fostering health security. The social worker as consultant would do well to focus on development, especially social development. Health security reminds the social worker as consultant that the social environment is an important consideration, always.

The WHO strategic needs are 3) Strengthening health systems, and 4) Harnessing research, information, and evidence. Social workers know that healthy systems produce greater good. The WHO connects strong health systems to poverty abatement. The social work as consultant should seek to innovate and enhance social support organizations. Social workers have embraced evidence-based practice (EBP), but not all social workers understand that EBP requires dissemination. The social worker as consultant understands: if you are not disseminating best practices, you are not effectively practicing.

The WHO operational approaches are 5) Enhancing partnerships and 6) Improving performance. Social capital development and the building of communities is all about collective activities—what the citizens can achieve when they work together. The social worker as consultant can be an effective broker, negotiator, and mediator to bring individual citizens and organizations together for specific purposes. The WHO suggests coalescing around best practices, ethical guidelines, and shared priorities.

Asset development is important to the long-term success of clients who hire the social worker as consultant. This includes the operational environment and the group emphasized by the WHO: staff. The social worker as consultant will do well to include expertise in performance evaluation, staff training, and leadership in his/her skill set.

Social Worker as Consultant Ethical Framework

Social work professional history guides us to do more than “9 to 5 and go home.” We cannot agree that our communities are fractured and only assist our clients in navigating that dysfunction.

Individual & Social Change Perspective

Build the capacity to change the status quo. Intervention should include the person and his/her perspective in the social and institutional environment. Innovation will seek to ensure access to and education on the mechanisms of production.

Social Capital & Collective Activities

Broker relationships among clients and between organizations in ways that foster reciprocity and win-win. Build relationships as investments and be clear about what you want in return. Focus on defining roles and responsibilities in the context of an action plan.

Process and Content Evaluation

Document activity with reports, receipts, and electronic communications. Organize and present the “big picture” in order to engage all parties in the vision. Parse that picture into manageable projects in order to provide all parties with a role 

Knowledge Sharing

Initially and periodically, every consultant offers services pro-bono. Share information freely as much as is possible. Disseminate best practices, instructive failures, and ruminations.

Transparency. Ensure that the processes of your clients are as transparent as possible while maintaining appropriate confidentiality. Educate your clients as well as their constituents. Create the sense that dialogue is valued and remain responsive and engaged.

Cost-Benefit Analysis. Conduct Cost-Benefit analysis at all levels of ecology, individual, individual as member of groups, groups that do not include individual. This means that the social worker as consultant must assess potential activities and predict the consequences of a course of action. Consequences include all costs including opportunity costs.

Sustainability. Predict the long-term sustainability of proposals in all resource areas, financial, information, people, and time. Educate clients on the pros and cons of a slow-building approach. Consider the supports needed for success to be maintained even after the consulting contract is terminated.

Impact. Predict the impact of the proposal on the community including the establishment of precedence, reactions of prior constituents, and entitlement of current individuals who potentially constitute a class. Consider that the pattern created by a certain course of action extends beyond the present time and budget period. Consider how actions of clients impact the culture of the agency and the community.

How the Affordable Health Care Act is Saving My Life-Part I

I knew that pursuing this degree would be costly, but what I didn’t know is that it could potential cost me my life. Three years ago, I was accepted to one of the top five Schools of Social Work in the country.

I was already working as a Child Protective Services Investigator when I decided to pursue my MSW, and I thought it would help me to advance in my field. However, as a CPS investigator and a Master level student, I was forced along with others in my cohort to make a decision between finishing school and my job. Both worlds were colliding, and I was caught in the middle.

It’s crazy how a social work student with no work experience can work in Child Welfare to fulfill their 900 hour internship requirement. However, someone already working in Child Welfare doing the same job does not receive credit and is required to do an additional field placement. In what world is this fair!

I was already invested in both time and money to just walk away from school. So, I quit my job working at a Human Service Agency in order to work for free at another Human Service agency in order to fulfill my internship requirements. As a working practitioner, I knew that I could not manage my caseload, class work, and another 16 hour per week internship to be completed in another department. Initially, my agency was going to give me some concessions while in school, but all it takes is for someone to quit or go on FMLA.

Yes, I knew that I had a pre-existing health condition, but I was going to a university with one of the best health care systems in the country. It never occurred to me, not even once, that the program in which I was accepted would not offer me a healthcare plan.

The summer before my last semester, I started getting sick. Everyday, I would park in the deck of the Medical Center to walk to class at the School of Social Work while I was being relegated to free clinics for my health care. The last semester, my school made some changes to the health care plans. I have a healthcare plan…. Now, I can get the care that I desperately need. Right? Wrong!!!

The health insurance provider stated that I needed proof of continuous coverage in order to receive coverage because I had a pre-existing condition. Guess what….I didn’t have proof because I had been uninsured for a year. Ok….I thought. I am an advance standing student….I will be back to work in no time. Everything will be alright. Right? Wrong!!! It would be a year after graduation before I would gain employment and health insurance again.

Two years and one pre-existing condition later, in May 2012, I began getting the tests I needed years ago to determine whether I have cancer or not. Not having health insurance in this country is a death sentence. In the last six months, I know two African-American women who died from complications from preventable issues because they did not have health insurance. Despite my degrees and my accomplishments, I was just another unemployed, black woman with no health insurance, and I was treated as such.

Today, my insurance carrier is covering the majority of cost for my tests and surgery, and I don’t think it would have been possible without the ACA. With health insurance, I have Dr. Randall Scheri the world-renown surgical oncologist at Duke University Cancer Center performing my surgery later this week. The prognosis is good because the cells have not turned cancerous….Thank God!!! They are taking every precaution in case something is found during the surgery. However, I believe everything is fine, and I am planning for a speedy recovery.

President Obama made it possible for those without healthcare to have the ability to get health insurance and be covered. He did it despite the difficulty and the unpopularity of the bill, and I am thankful that he did. Now, my hope is that the Council for Social Work Education will reform their current internship requirements, so it is not oppressive and create further hardships on students who just want to help others. No other profession mandates a 900 hour unpaid internship with no guarantees of health insurance in order to obtain a degree. So why is social work doing it?

It’s been difficult to not be bitter and not to be angry. No one should have to choose between basic human needs in order to pursue higher education for a better life. After my surgery and I am on the road to healing, I plan to advocate on behalf of students who may find themselves in similar situations or for those who may choose not to go back to school for social work because of the barriers. Change is needed.

*Part II soon to come…

Captain’s log stardate 74906.5, June 10th, 2021, Part II was never written. Cancer was found during the surgery, and it has been a long journey to recovery. However, this platform would not have been created without that experience. I use this platform to create awareness and advocacy on a variety of issues, but at its core, our goal is to help register people to vote on the matters important in their lives and their loved ones.  I am a firm believer that pain and suffering breed empathy and compassion. As a result of my pain, it further ignited my desire to help more people navigate their pain as well as support their purpose.

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