Monsanto: Food and Freedom?

By Amanda Huber MSW

On the 25th of May across the nation organizers rallied for pesticide free food. Locally in Greensboro North Carolina, concerned citizens marched and rallied for this cause against major corporations that genetically modify food and exploit their employees.  Monsanto is the company that invented round up, aspartame, bovine growth hormone, and Agent Orange which are all chemicals that have harmful effects on the environment and on the human body.  More interestingly about Monsanto is their control and patent of their genetically modified plants.

Patents on Genetically modified plants have  allowed Monsanto to own life. These seeds are now the intellectual property of a corporation, hence, they now have value as a “product”. A corporation with enough power to patent a plant and sell these plants to farmers has led to an uproar across the globe. In India for example, the control Monsanto has on a cotton seed has contributed to a number of suicides from farmers who could not pay for the seeds which created a system of debt has allowed Monsanto to control the farming population of this area.

Monsanto created and own most genetically modified organism (GMO), and they have crops all over the globe. Monsanto has created super foods that are resistant to cold, to insects, to animals. This all sounds fantastic! A farmer would be able to yield a larger return on their investment without as much loss? Wrong, if a farmer buys the seeds one year, they are expected to continue to pay a fee because of the patent placed on the seed.

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On March 24, the pro-Monsanto “Farmer Assurance Provision, Section 735” was slipped into HR 933. This provision provides that the Department of Agriculture will allow temporary permits to use the GMO seeds in the United States, even under court review.

Monsanto has driven small local independent farmers out of business and have since targeted these smaller farms in an effort to drive out competition. Being that a major theme of this corporation is focused on power and control of the market, what will happen to the laborers on the these farms.

Immigration and guest worker permits give rise to the invisible laborer. Farm workers in the United States have not always been treated with dignity and respect often time they have been used by the system of capitalism to provide inexpensive labor during peak harvest seasons. In the 60s there was a mass protest on grapes on this very issue led by Caesar Chavez. Unfortunately, the fight is not over. According to the Huffington Post, a  lawsuit was filed in Texas involving eight laborers, and the suit spoke of unsafe work conditions and inadequate room for all of the laborers.

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In discussing the H2A visas, there are safeguards in place to assist the worker in navigating the system. However, the only problem is the use of power to control this group of migratory farmers. In my personal experience with farmers and day laborers, they live in constant fear and are typically not informed about their rights in the United States. Unlike Americans who know they have work related rights, a migratory farmer is less likely to petition against an employer. Even when the authorities are called in to investigate, the likelihood of the migratory worker winning without having appropriate back up  is slim. Large farm organizations  such as Monsanto have the opportunity to take advantage of a group of guest workers who are low skilled and alone in a foreign country. USA Today reported on the issue from a systems perspective, and the system we have for guest workers is lucrative for those who have the privileged and power to bring them in.  They are able to process the paperwork, if they are a larger corporation, and hire guest workers through a recruiter who also profits off the backs of the laborer.

The slave trade is alive and well only instead of molasses, sugar cane and cotton.  Indentured servitude is brokered with grains and genetically modified produce all for a fraction of the cost of local farms and organic gardens. We wonder why the nutritional standards are lowered for our produce. Could this orange also be considered a “blood” orange?

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Aunt Bertha: The Google of Social Services

If doing endless google searches or going through out-dated excel spreadsheets of local agencies who can provide services to your clients are apart of your job duties, then Aunt Bertha is something you want to add to your bookmarks.

Aunt Bertha has been featured several times on Mashable.com for its innovation in using technical solutions for social good. Their latest article was entitled, “How One Website Connects Those in Need of Governmental Assistance”.

I had the opportunity to interview Erine Gray, creator and Founder, of Aunt Bertha which is a search engine for social welfare programs designed to help those in need find governmental or charitable programs.

Could you describe your background/short bio? 

eringrayI grew up in a small town in Western New York, and went to college at Indiana University where I studied Economics (and took several computer science classes). I became interested in public policy shortly after I became my disabled mother’s guardian in 2002. When that happened, I quit my job as a programmer and went back to grad school to get my Master’s in Public Affairs from the University of Texas. I spent the next six years helping governments better deliver on public services.

What is Aunt Bertha about and why did you think it was important to create?

Aunt Bertha picks up where Uncle Sam leaves off by making it easy for people to find and apply for government and charitable programs. In just a few seconds you can type in your zip code, and Aunt Bertha will tell you about government and charitable programs you qualify for.

What is your hopes for Aunt Bertha, and what do you need to improve it?

We’d like Aunt Bertha to be the google of social services so people in need and the people who help them can have a reliable way of finding and applying for services. To make this vision a reality, we need people to tell us about the programs they like and interact with the most. We’ll take care of the rest. Anybody can enter a program, it just takes a couple of seconds by filling out this form.

How did you come up with the name?

Aunt Bertha picks up where Uncle Sam leaves off. Everybody has someone in their family that they can go to that is a bit quirky, but has their best interests in mind. We wanted the experience to be fun, so we modeled it after someone we can all relate to. Aunt Bertha is someone you can go to when you’re in trouble, and she’ll always point you in the right direction.

What inspired “Here’s to Social Workers”?

We work with social workers every day. We realized how lucky we are to spend time with some of the most generous, caring people on earth. Social workers don’t get enough recognition, and we thought it’d be a good idea, in our little way, to help change that.

Aunt Bertha now has a mobile site that can be used on all smartphones with a browser. Just type http://www.auntbertha.com in your browser. We’re also looking to chat with folks that would like to bring Aunt Bertha to their town (it’s something we do for free). Reach out to me anytime (egray@auntbertha.com).

Top Five Tips for New Graduates: Real World Advice

Another graduating class is walking across the stage with their degrees and turning their tassels as new graduates. You are now equipped with the knowledge, skills, and training from your respective majors/specializations.  After celebrating such a humongous life milestone, reality slowly starts to creep in as you recognize that you are one of thousands new graduates.  You have now completed 2-4+ years of higher education to obtain a piece of paper in a field you (will hopefully) enjoy with the seal of your learning institution… now what?  The “now what” part has baffled many who have been in your shoes, including yours truly.

degreeThis is a very important time in your life, especially if you are one of the 50+ million Americans who are under the age of 30.  This is the time where you decide what direction your life goes, how you will begin to develop your career path, when you want to start a family, gain a better grasp of your life’s mission, where you would like to live (within the country and/or abroad), and other major life decisions.

I recently came across Clinical Psychologist Meg Jay’s video on TED.com titled, Why 30 is not the new 20.  Her message was a real eye-opener for myself, and it allowed me to realize that I have been viewing my 20s in the right perspective.  Your 20s are the stepping stone into adulthood, and what you accomplish or do not accomplish during this time can (and from Dr. Jay’s message, will) greatly affect your life circumstances in your 30s, 40s, and beyond.

I strongly urge all new graduates to view this video as it was impactful enough on me to begin writing this article.  It revealed to me the real world advice I am about to share (that stemmed from my own experiences) with you was greatly needed, and I hope that this advice will be helpful to my fellow 20-somethings (and those young at heart who are also embarking on new career paths after obtaining their degrees).

Real World Advice #5:  Begin to save for retirement now!

When you get that first job, try your hardest to save, save, save, as much as you can.  Though you may not believe that you are earning enough to save (especially if you have student loan payments, car note and insurance, rent/mortgage, paying high gas prices, buying groceries, and trying to maintain a social life), saving what you can now will definitely benefit you later on in life.

As reported in USA Today, Millennials seem to be better at saving for the future than Baby Boomers were during this particular time in life.  One of the main reasons for this is the uncertainty of Social Security still being available for Millennials in 30-40 years when we reach the age of retirement (which is likely to rise as we are living longer).  Though those in the news article have saved a substantial amount for someone in their 20s and early 30s, this should not discourage anyone from beginning to save what you can now.  Even if you were to save $100-$300 (I am aware that this amount may not be very realistic for some of you, but continue to follow my point) every pay period, that would jump start a nice savings “nest egg” for you.  This nest egg could make the difference in how you view an unexpected layoff or having to replace the battery or tires on your vehicle.

Real World Advice #4:  Learn about the Federal Student Loan Repayment options NOW!

It amazes me how little college graduates and graduate students know about the repayment plan options offered by the Department of Education when it comes to subsidized and unsubsidized student loans.  When I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in 2008, there were not many repayment options available outside of standard, extended, graduated, forbearance, and deferment options.  Now, because of the Affordable Care Act (better known as Obamacare), there are several new repayment plan options that correlate with how much you are making (or not making) once you graduate.  These new repayment plans are:  the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) plan, the Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) plan, the Pay As You Earn Repayment plan, and the Income-Sensitive Repayment plan.  If you meet the income qualifications, these plans may lower your repayment balance to an amount that is more financially feasible (and most importantly, keep you from defaulting on your student loans).

Remember, it is easier to get debtors (whether it is the federal government or other collectors) to understand your financial situation BEFORE you owe them (or are late in making a payment) than when you’re on the brink of defaulting.  As with the saving tip, being financially responsible is imperative to having a good credit score, as well as to being able to afford that dream home and providing yourself and your future family with the necessities and (every now and then) luxuries in life.

Real World Advice #3:  Learn all you can on your first job, even if it is totally the opposite of what you really want to do in your career.

Some of you may find yourself accepting a job offer that is totally NOT want you had envisioned after obtaining your college or postgraduate degree.  There could be a number of reasons for this:  the position has NOTHING to do with your major/degree specialization; you are earning pennies to what is average for someone with your education and training; you have spotted the dysfunctions within the work environment (remember, every workplace has its quirks, but you quickly recognize the difference between quirks and just downright unprofessional, unethical, and self-esteem draining environment); not within your interest scope; leadership is questionable and/or nonexistent; or you just do not see yourself lasting more than 2-3 years (which may be a generous time estimate).

We have ALL been there, wondering what in the devil am I doing in this place, for “x” amount of hours, 5-7 days a week?  If this is you, then know that you are not alone.  Even if your current job is truly the pits, there is something to be learned from this experience.

For example, let’s say that you have noticed the lack of strong leadership with your supervisor or a lack of cohesion within management in regards to the way the agency/company operates.  It is hard to learn from that kind of setting while in the thick of things, but YOU CAN.  If you desire to incorporate your own business one day, then take note of what is going on with the leadership.  Where does the dysfunction exist?  Is there a lack of support between team members?  Are there communication issues?  Do people expect others to “worship” them because of the position they hold (basically, the egomaniacs)?  Is there a lack of support if there are issues/concerns – is the infamous “open door policy” nonexistent?

If any of these, and more, are some of the issues you have spotted within management, take away the key learning points.  You realize the damage these issues will have on the teamwork, work morale, and overall operations within an agency; do your best to keep the company you want to develop from going down the same path.

Do realize that your first job will not be your ONLY job, especially as Millennials are known to be the generation that will pursue several different career paths during our lifetime.  If your first job post-graduation is not what you had hoped for, remember that the skills, knowledge, and training you acquire while employed will help you establish yourself further as a professional and better prepare you for that next employment opportunity that will better suit your professional interests.

Real World Advice #2:  Being an individual is NOT a bad thing; go against the grain.

This one is key – sometimes you have to stand alone in what you want to do in order to make a difference.  This seems to be so cliche, but trust me, it is VERY true.  It is easy to get caught up in a routine:  wake up, go to work, come home, eat, chat, and watch tv, go to bed, and do it all over again the next day.  What fun is that, really?  Why become a “manufactured” being?  Why not branch out and do something new and innovative?  “New and innovative” does not mean that your work has to be ground-breaking; it means that you are establishing/creating/developing/implementing something with the idea of it having a positive impact on the world, once you are no longer here.  Be reminded that being a trendsetter/originator does not occur overnight; it may be a slow process, but the work you will accomplish at the end is well worth the long hours, sleepless nights, stress, and miss spending your free time with family and friends.  One of my personal goals is when I come to the end of my life, I hope that forcing myself to be an individual and ensuring that my actions and work to empower and uplift others would have afforded me the opportunity to leave a positive mark (or in my case, tire mark) on the world.  I am aware that developing the career and life that I desire will come with sacrifices, but I am willing to endure those sacrifices if it means that my presence and determination has affected the lives those I serve in a meaningful way.

Real World Advice #1:  While job searching, figure out your real passion.

For some of you, you may be lucky to have a job lined up before you walked across that stage.  For a good majority, however, you may be on several job search engine websites applying for a plethora of jobs day in, day out.  The stress of job-searching can be hard, especially when you see your classmates and friends expressing their happiness about getting the confirmation call about the job they interviewed for on social media.  Deep down, you are happy for them, but a tiny part of you is wondering, “when is my breakthrough coming?”  Trust me, I have been there.  When I graduated with my Master’s last year, it was difficult witnessing others gaining employment while I was stuck at home putting in application after application for jobs that I really did not want, or being called for interviews for positions that paid way less for someone with the level of education I had.

Inbetween applying and going for interviews, I took the time to figure out what made my heart sing, a popular statement uttered by one of my graduate professors.  One thing that I started was my Tumblr blog; I always loved writing (and received positive remarks from professors and friends about my writing), so I thought, why not share my thoughts/ideas about the world around me to millions online?  I also began volunteering for the Presidential campaign, since I wanted to become more community-focused (I’m a Macro Social Worker through and through).  Taking the time to figure out what I really wanted to do with my degree and my overall career goals made me realize that none of the jobs I had been applying for fit within the macro social work mold I loved.

So I am urging each of you to do what I did – use your free time to develop your passions, and see where they may lead you.  Who knows, you may wind up pursuing your passion as a career choice.

I hope that my advice will help those who are nervous, anxious, and worried about the future after graduation.  The reason we worry about the future is because we do not have control over it or know what to expect.  It is only after we learn how to learn to let go and be conscious and realistic about what we can and what we cannot control, is when we will effectively release that feeling of anxiety about the unknown when it comes to our future.

I’m American, Just Not YOUR Kind of American: Fighting Racism with Rhetoric

ByAmanda Huber, MSW Staff Writter

My mother migrated to this country when she was 14 years of age. She remembers sitting in her high school class and people telling her she was not an American, and my mother being clever told them that she was an American just South American. This reframe empowered her and stopped the bullying she experienced in her public NY school.  Bullying based on race and racial ties has been a prominent factor in the debates about comprehensive immigration reform. How fantastic would it be if the Legislature could put a slight reframe on the argument at look at the issues in a new light?

When looking at comprehensive Immigration reform from a social work perspective, the language that is used is oppressive and marginalizing as it essentially bullies an entire sub-group of Americans. No human is “Illegal”, and  no human can be “alien”. These terms evoke science fiction images of little green men taking over the earth. Another term that has received a lot of press and it oppressive in nature is the term “anchor babies”. In a town hall meeting with his constituents, Paul Ryan used this term to refer to immigrant children born in the United States. This term was considered offensive in 2011, yet is still in circulation. He uses this as he explains a 13 year path toward citizenship after securing the border and making it difficult to obtain employment in the United States.

The problem is the language. If beeing bullied in the school setting is not enough for these children, they are attacked on a governmental level for being born in the United States. The implication of carrying that label of “anchor baby” dehumanizes the child. Political people in power are view the child as strategic occurrence to keep the family in the country, rather than an American child born to immigrant parents who care for that child in America.

The bullies are not just on the school grounds, or in the legislature, it is also in news media. Far too often, personal values are the ones being discussed by members of the media:

“I’ve got a quick message for illegal aliens if you happen to be watching. You better start packing your bags. And to the politicians in Washington who are soft on illegal immigration, start packing up your office, because when the terrorists strike, which they will, and we find out that they’re here illegally from some other country, we will be telling all of you to get the hell out.” — Glenn Beck, May 9, 2007

The voices of the people are not presented, yet somehow the worst case scenarios are always presented as truth. In the technological world we live in, it is easy to fall into an adult version of “he said, she said, I thought” preconceived ideas are  rarely challenged because somewhere out in the technological stratosphere there are people who believe the same as you.

Let the world reframe illegal to be undocumented or refugee as the conditions of their country of origin are likely hostile. Better yet,  let this subgroup be called American, for wherever they are from be it Colombia, Mexico, Haiti, Poland, once they are here and decide to put roots in this country they fit into the mix with someone or some group because they are american immigrants. This sounds like a strange concept, but this was the case when immigrants were coming from European nations. What happened?

photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc

Will Clinical Social Workers Embrace the New DSM 5

by Deona Hooper, MSW

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) is the book psychiatrist, clinical social workers, and other mental health professionals use to determine a mental health disorder. The latest edition, DSM V, is scheduled to be released sometime May 2013 after pushing back its released date on several occasions. It appears the pending DSM 5 is even more problematic than its previous versions. A huge blow was dealt to the pending publication when the National Institute of Mental Health withdrew its support according to Medical Daily.

The Association of Psychiatry is the primary authors of the DSM despite only serving 23% of all who seek mental health services. Other mental health professionals utilize the manual as the convening authority on mental health issues. There have been many complaints about some disorders not being supported by evidence-based studies, in addition there have been other concerns that some disorders are biased against minority populations. Clinical Social Workers provide 60% of all mental health services in the United States. However, social workers are often not invited to the table to discuss implementation of policies that overwhelming affect the vulnerable clients we serve. Will social workers embrace the DSM 5 or is it time to take the lead and create our own?

Social Work Podcast with Jonathan Singer did an interview on the proposed DSM 5 changes with Micki Washburn, LPC-S and Danielle Parrish, Ph.D. Here is an excerpt:

There’s an old saying, “What’s the fastest way to cure mental illness in an entire group of people? Get rid of the diagnosis.” The proposed changes to DSM-5 get rid of some diagnoses and add others. But that’s not all. If you’re like me, you have lots of questions about changes to DSM-5. When I posted the question “what would you like to know about the DSM-5” to the Social Work Podcast Facebook page 11 people responded in less than an hour and 20 people responded by the end of the day. So, what did they want to know? Jessica, Shelly, Sandy, Spring, Paul, and Suzannah wanted to know about autism, depression, and personality disorders. Shylah and Jen wanted to know about addictions. Lisa wanted to know what was up with ADHD. Ciarrai and Lyndon posed some great questions about the merits of DSM diagnosis in social work practice. Read Full Article

Listen to their Interview with Jonathan Singer Ph.D, LCSW

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Also View:
Why Social Workers Should Oppose DSM-5 ~Psychology Today

The Time is Now: Immigration Rally 2013 in Washington DC

By Amanda Huber MSW Candidate

On April 10th, 2013, thousands of people from across the nation rallied in Washington, DC for the “Time is Now” Immigration Rally. I embarked on this journey with a local organizing group, El Pueblo, out of Raleigh, North Carolina. We piled into three buses on a Wednesday morning on ride for a total of 10 hours to a 4 hour demonstration. At the demonstration, I met amazing individuals, organizers, students, and professionals with the common goal of advocating for the people. Passionate people who are directly affected by the social policy of immigration reform, as well as people who are indirectly affiliated with reform and reform movements. Once the group arrived in DC, we came in contact with an array of people from across the country. We also begin meeting people without documents who took the calculated risk to attend this event from places like Los Angeles, San Antonio, Palm Beach and Pennsylvania.

The political voices that were shared were that of allies, priests, lawyers, congress men and women. Some were first generation and second generation immigrants whom all of which engaged in dialogue to collaborate and advocate for a better quality of life for all immigrants. I met a first generation immigrant who recently received his green card, and his name was Alejandro. Alejandro is 25 years old, and he came to this country when he was 6 years old with his family. Although Alejandro has his papers now, he is still fighting and advocating for his father who still lives in this country under the constant fear of deportation because of his status. In our meeting, he shared insights about growing up Latino and the struggles he had faced without papers.

“I would like to be my name, Alejandro”

Alejandro discusses the focus on having a social security number. The United States places a lot of value on that piece of paper as it is the easiest proof anyone can use to prove their citizenship. I asked Alejandro several questions, and we spoke at length about reform and why he came out to DC for the rally. Alejandro replied, “It is not right the way we are treated for a little piece of paper, that’s my opinion. Everyone is a human being, but we are put in a prison, but not a prison”. When I asked for clarity he explained “we have no freedom, I see it with my mother and father, and they cannot leave the house to go out because the police set up checkpoint to check licenses in Spanish neighborhoods.” He proceeded to talk about the level of anxiety he felt growing up and not having papers.  Alejandro talked about the fear of wondering what took his mother so long at the grocery store, and constantly waiting up with an ear toward the door for her to walk in. His words relayed the constant anxiety and fear that she may have been stopped by the police and sent into custody by immigration enforcement.

This is the real human battle and struggle immigrants are having to face as a result of the social policies enacted and enforced by our government. Now, the question is what role will you take in this dialogue?

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“Dumping” the Homeless In America

“Dumping” the homeless – the new craze in America?  The way we treat and view those who are homeless in this country is unsettling.  When I came across the story about those within the Detroit Police Department “dumping” the homeless in areas that were unfamiliar to them in order to “clean up” the image in a popular tourist area, I was angered as a social worker and a human being.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a Department of Justice (DOJ) complaint against the Detroit Police Department this month.  The ACLU has been investigating these inhumane indignities since 2012, after receiving complaints from several individuals who had experienced such injustices.

The ACLU’s complaint describes the dumping “tactics.”   The officers would approach those who they perceived to be homeless, and in some instances, would coerced the person to get into a van.  Once in the van, the officer would drive to a remote area far away from the familiar surroundings the homeless individual was accustomed to.  The officers would leave the individual stranded, and in some cases, penniless.  (Several reported that the police specifically asked for whatever monies they had on them, and would confiscate it.)  Without a means to pay for transportation, some individuals would have no choice but to walk several miles back to their original location, sometimes having to travel at night and through unsafe neighborhoods.

Though this story is unbelievable in how those who are expected to uphold and enforce the law treat those who are most vulnerable in our society, it is sadly another example of how we view those who call our streets “home.”

When it comes to the homeless, we have the NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) complex.  On one hand, we see countless organizations discuss the increase numbers of those without homes in our cities, states, and country.  We go out of our way during the holiday season to donate to these organizations so that they will have adequate food, clothing, and monetary resources to provide for those who have fallen on hard times and have no place to lay their heads.

On the other hand, we do not want these individuals in our backyards/neighborhoods.  We look at these individuals as being “lazy,” “unclean,” “dangerous/menaces” to society, and “unwilling” to better themselves.  Being homeless is their “fault” – they should not have made bad life choices (e.g., being addicted to drugs and alcohol, battling emotional/mental illnesses, and/or not trying hard enough to be productive members of society).  We protest against having homeless shelters and centers in our communities; an issue that has made headlines in my own home state concerning the location of a new homeless shelter.  We want the homeless to receive help… just not on Earth, apparently.

What do these disturbing mistreatment stories and ill  opinions surrounding the homeless reveal about our level of sensitivity and sense of community in helping those who are in need?  “Dumping the “homeless is absolutely not the answer to eradicating this growing life circumstance that has been exacerbated due to our economic state  in this country.  In 2012, the Housing and Urban Development Department reported that 633,782 individuals were homeless in the United States.  Those this figure is slightly less than what was reported the previous year (636,000).  Though there was a slight decline, the numbers show that this country has not effectively extirpated the issues that places individuals and families at risk of homelessness.

If we were to focus more on helping people and families appropriately cope with the issues that put them at great risk of becoming homeless instead of moving the “undesirables” from the “money-making” tourist areas so they will not “disturb” residents and tourists or “tarnish” the look of the city, we may be able to get the homeless numbers down to 0.

Allowing people to call our streets and parks “home” is shameful.  When one person or family becomes homeless, it affects us all.  We cannot sit around and allow people to exploit or dehumanize the homeless in any matter, whether they wear a uniform or not.  This injustice cannot, and most importantly, should not become the “norm” in America in how we address the issue of homelessness.

What steps will you take to ensure that the homeless are treated justly by law enforcement and other members in our communities?  Do you donate resources or volunteer your time to help those less fortunate?  If you presently do not, I hope that this article will prompt you to take some form of action, whether small or large, to find out what organizations are serving the homeless in your community, whether these organizations are upholding the mission and values for which they were founded, and learn more how you can become an advocate in addressing the abuses to human rights that may exist for this population.

We cannot stomp out the issue of homelessness by staying quiet or looking for others to step up – sometimes we have to be the change we want to see.  Writing this article is my way to bring forth awareness and hopefully activism to this problem – what will be your course of action?

If you walk down the street and see someone in a box, you have a choice. That person is either the other and you’re fearful of them, or that person is an extension of your family.
Susan Sarandon

Family and Maternity Leave Around the World: How Does the USA Measure Up?

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In the last few decades, women have been dominating the workforce because having a single income family is no longer enough to maintain a middle class living. More importantly, women enjoy and want to have careers and be contributors in the workforce. However, women have increasingly faced challenges in balancing work with parenthood especially with the lack of paid maternity leave.

This imbalance has created a need for substantial policy in areas such as child care assistance, reproductive rights, and family medical leave. Women who become pregnant have to take time off work for recovery time, doctor visits, and to allow appropriate time for mother and child to bond. Due to the high expense of daycare,  many women cannot afford to work full-time and being to cover day care expenses.

Often daycare expenses cost higher than what the average working mother will earn in a 40 hour work week. This cost analysis and barrier prevents many families from rising above the poverty level. In addition,  many women, married and unmarried, often have the burden of the “ unpaid second shift” which is taking on many of the domestic duties at home as well.

Some of the policy changes around the world came as a result of needed parental leave and a preschool provisions for children until the age of six. Germany and France were two of the first countries to get maternity leave. Currently, 128 countries provide paid and job protected child-birth leave. The primary factor which determines the way a country or state gives this benefit varies from place to place. However, it is important to note that some places provide longer leave times than others. For example, the United States has largely decided to make the majority of maternity leave in this country unpaid.

Eighty eight countries provide allowances for families, to help with raising them, and the United States is the only country which provides no such family allowances. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United States is the single least generous country in relation to its treatment of families.

It is disconcerting that the US and Australia are the only two countries that offer no federally mandated paid maternity leave. This is a huge barrier for families and single parents raising children. Notably, France is one of the countries that has provided the most benefits for women on maternity leave such as increased leave when having more children. For example, the child rearing benefit is more if they have more than two children.

The way the a state or country attacks these problems tells provides great insight into how they value maternity leave and child rearing. Out of all the countries studied, the United States lagged behind all others in the support and balance they give to families.  Daycare was another benefited proved by many as a public services in countries like Germany. While many of the OECD countries provide this daycare regardless of income, the US only provides assistance for the abused and low-income.

The policies of Sweden and France are able to help provide women the ability to balance family and work. Whereas in the US, there are a large number of children at the poverty level due to policy decisions that do not support women and children post birth. Because of the lack of assistance in the United States, many women in single and working class families cannot afford to have day care, unless there is some subsidized program they can participate in.

Many women are forced to limit the time they work until their children begin school age. Public awareness on this issue needs to be increase in order to promote more advocacy and policy changes in these areas. Write your representatives on this matter, go in groups to speak to legislators, and set up community awareness events in your community.

I think the United States could learn from many of the policies and practices of countries like Sweden and France. This would give us the same opportunity to work full-time and pursue the American Dream. I think these countries as well as the other countries in the OECD have done a far better job to address the gender differences of women and men. As far as the United States, I feel that our policy makers have let us down. It’s unfortunate that many policy makers do not realize that addressing these issues affecting women would be the best policies to uplifting everyone.

Conway, M. (2004). Women and Public Policy: A Revolution in Progress (3rd ed., pp. 175-189). N.p.: CQ Press

Henderson, S., & Jeydel, A. (2009). Women in Politics in a Global World (2nd ed., pp. 144-169). N.p.: Oxford University Press’ Higher.

Is Disability the New Welfare

by Vilissa K. Thompson, LMSW

It seems as if disability benefits has become a fiery political topic for many countries.  Across the pond in the United Kingdom, there has been an emotionally-charged debate and outrage about possible changes to the appeals process for disability benefits claimants.  Under the new appeals policy, those who object to the decision made about their sickness and disability benefits will be denied the opportunity to appeal until the governing body, the Department for Work and Pension (DWP), has reconsidered their case.

The main issue with the DWP overseeing the appeals process is that there is not a definite timeline of when DWP will review these cases; this leaves those who depend on their sickness and disability benefits to be at the mercy of the entity and be unable to sustain the quality of life those benefits allows them to have.  Until their case is reviewed and overturned by the DWP, those individuals will not have any income to rely on; most of the people receiving sickness and disability benefits are incapable of working and/or are severely disabled.

This new policy will affect those who have failed the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) since October.  The WCA has met its own level of controversy; opponents of the test remarks that the assessment does not adequately put into perspective the capacities of individuals who are not quite well enough to work, due to their health issues or disabilities.  Those who fail the assessment and are consequently denied Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) (which is the sickness benefits) will be automatically placed on the Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA).  The Job Seekers’ Allowance program will require these persons to seek employment opportunities.  The potential for lack of consideration for such circumstances have many opponents of the changes, those who rely on these benefits and health care and legal allies, greatly disturbed.

Proponents of the changes believe that such actions will not negatively affect those who are currently enrolled in the benefits program, or those who are denied.  Those within the DWP stated that individuals who are placed on JSA will be assisted by employees within the work centers to find employment opportunities that are appropriate for their level of functioning and abilities.  Skeptics of this idea are concerned about the work center employees’ capabilities of accurately assessing the individuals’ abilities to work and pair them with appropriate employment agencies.

Reviewing the news about the proposed changes to disability benefits in the United Kingdom caused me to think about how such changes would be received here in  the United States.  The process of becoming a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Supplemental Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiary is an rigorous, time-consuming, and stressful process within itself; what would happen if we made similar changes to the appeals process  in this country?  Would all “heck break loose” by unintentionally disadvantaging persons who truly need the assistance of these benefits, or would we be able to finally pinpoint and remove those who are thought to be abusing the system  and wasting the taxpayers’ dollars?

The average U.S. citizen is bombarded with numerous legal firm commercials and advertisements competing to represent denied disability benefits claimants so that they will have the rights they are “entitled” to.  We also cannot forget about the whole debate surrounding “entitlement” programs themselves:  Are these programs truly serving the targeted populations that are considered to be in need of the resources and funding?  Are people taking advantage of the system, which is already deemed to be extremely broken?  Will the expanding number of beneficiaries placed on the entitlement rolls continue to add to the mounting national debt?  Will there be any money left for my generation, the Millennials and those who have yet to enter middle school, to seek assistance if we become disabled or have a child with special needs?  These questions, along with countless others, have caused the nation to ponder the existence of disability benefits and if they are truly beneficial at all.

Since its creation in 1935, the number of Americans on Social Security has increased exponentially.  In 1940, the number of Americans receiving Social Security benefits was 222, 488, less than 1% of the U.S. population.  That number seems quite small in comparison to today’s figure; a record-breaking 56 million Americans received Social Security benefits in 2011, which accounts for 18% of the total U.S. population.

With the number of beneficiaries continuously increasing, especially with Baby Boomers “aging into” the system, the Social Security Administration (SSA) had stated that they would not have enough money to pay out monthly benefits by 2036.  There have been steps enacted to keep the program alive.  Two well-known (and controversial) actions taken were the automatic Cost-Of-Living Adjustment (COLA) not being increased in 2010 and 2011, and requesting that Social Security beneficiaries sign up for direct deposit in order to receive their benefits electronically, which would save the U.S. Treasury $130 million each year.

These actions may address some of the issues involving the financial realities surrounding Social Security benefits, but these actions do not touch on questions pertaining to the “need” for such programs.  There is a strong belief that there is a great number of individuals intentionally taking advantage of the system; “bleeding the system dry” to be exact, as voiced by those with more conservative viewpoints who regard these programs as being fruitless and a waste of taxpayers’ money.  Those who are under this impression suggest that the main way to “extinguish” this “criminal, abusive” act is by doing a major overhaul on the system; privatizing Medicare and reducing the number of funds given to these programs.

Opponents of such drastic actions voice that there is a better way to address the shortfalls of the current system without disadvantaging those whose livelihood rely heavily on the existence of these programs.  These persons, those who are moderates, liberals, and those who utilize the programs, believe that changes are necessary to make the programs more effective, but cutting key programmatic facets and funding to disability benefits is not the “quick fix” answer.  Neither group, opponents or supporters, have come to a bipartisan agreement on what exactly should be done to save the programs and eradicate the problems that are detrimental to the programs’ longevity in our society.

It seems that everyone, on both sides of the pond, believe that they have the “magic” answer when it comes to sustaining the programs, and ameliorating or eliminating the issues within the disability benefits debate.  There is just one teeny problem – who is taking the time to ask those who receive these benefits what they think about the issue?  Is anyone inquiring about the issue those who receive disability benefits encounter, from applying for benefits to following the eligibility requirements to remain a beneficiary?  Who is truly listening to the voices of the American people?

Though there are programs in place (e.g., PASS) to help beneficiaries who are capable of working to become self-sufficient, is anyone researching the success rate of these particular programs?  By “success,” I am interested in knowing how many people actually remain off these programs for good?  How many of them had to reapply?

The proverbial “benefits moochers” seem to pervade the minds of those who believe that most of the people on these benefits are “unworthy,” feel “entitled,” or “undeserving” to be disability benefits recipients.  Do we know the exact figure of individuals found to have abused the system versus those who indeed meet the qualifications to become beneficiaries?

Also, is the average American aware of how much monies are given, on average, to benefits recipients?  From the way our politicians discuss these programs, you would be under the impression that beneficiaries are “living high off the hog” (as an old Southern saying goes) while receiving these benefits.  If more people were aware of the real dollar amounts distributed, would this change their minds about how much assistance are given?  Would people demand that more, or less, funding be issued?

These are just a few questions that run through my mind as a self-advocate for person with disabilities, and as someone who has had personal experience with these programs.

Tell me, do you believe that a major overhaul is needed for disability benefits to be more fiscally and resourcefully effective?  If an overhaul occurs, what are the potential positive and negative ramifications of such actions undertaken?  Who will come out as “winners?”  “Losers?”  

Marriage Equality Goes Before the Supreme High Court

Daniel Martinez-Leffew (left) wrote a letter to Chief Justice Roberts, urging him to accept marriage equality. Shown from right to left: Daniel Martinez-Leffew, Bryan Leffew (father), Jay Foxworthy (father), Selena Leffew (sister) (Photo/Courtesy Bryan Leffew)
Daniel Martinez-Leffew (left) wrote a letter to Chief Justice Roberts, urging him to accept marriage equality. Shown from right to left: Daniel Martinez-Leffew, Bryan Leffew (father), Jay Foxworthy (father), Selena Leffew (sister) (Photo/Courtesy Bryan Leffew)

Today, the United States Supreme Court will hear opening arguments on the constitutionality of California’s Prop 8 which denies marriage equality to same sex couples. Before I go any further, I want to state that my Faith and Belief in God do not prohibit me from supporting Marriage Equality as a constitutional right under the Law. Let me explain!

First, my religious beliefs are a guide for my behavior, and I don’t expect someone to impose their religious beliefs on me no more than I would impose my will on them. Secondly, using religion as a basis to legislate against same-sex marriage as morally wrong would require the same litigant to argue that legalized prostitution in Nevada is an accepted religious practice.  It is not my place to demand others navigate their lives based on my moral compass especially when their lives have no effect on how I live mine.

I was looking at the news the other day when I saw this video of a 12 year old little boy who wrote Justice Roberts a letter asking that his two Dads be allowed to marry. This little boy along with his sister and another brother was placed in foster care. His brother was adopted, but he wasn’t because of his health care needs. I have seen firsthand same-sex couples who have been discriminated against by social services agencies/social workers who would rather leave a child in foster care than place them in the home of a loving same-sex couple.

Most importantly, as a social worker, I should not have the right or the ability to deny a child from a viable adoptive or foster care same-sex couple placement because it conflicts with my personal/religious beliefs. In my opinion, the decision would be cruel, inhumane, and unconstitutional because it fails to consider the needs of an unwanted or abused child who could benefit from inheriting a loving family who desperately wants children.

Please watch the Youtube video of this young man, Daniel Martinez-Leffew, reading his letter to Chief Justice Roberts. If this does not convince you that marriage inequality is wrong, you are too self-absorbed to see beyond yourself.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Medicare

by Britney Wiggins, BSW Candidate

One of the most important steps when enforcing any type of intervention, especially in social work practice, is to examine how effective the program is in accomplishing its goals.  Federal legislation, particularly social welfare programs, must also be examined in terms of strengths and weaknesses so that the policy can be modified to better accommodate the beneficiaries that are often heavily dependent on these programs.  A program’s weaknesses can also result in its own demise if left untreated.  Exploring how an intervention can be improved is critical if any program is going to survive in the American political system.  Given our current political atmosphere and the focus on budget cuts, it is imperative that Medicare determine what areas it can improve on.

Medicare-Policy-Making-198x198Arguably one of Medicare’s greatest successes is in the overall support and approval it receives from its beneficiaries.1 Medicare has changed the way older adults approach retirement.  The financial support made available for medical costs allows older adults to use their monetary resources for other necessities.  Another reason that Medicare is heavily favored among eligible older adults is because of the portability of the program.  Regardless of where a beneficiary resides, their eligibility and benefits remain the same because the program is federally regulated.  The benefits, in fact, are responsible for much of Medicare’s glory.  It was originally designed to provide affordable healthcare to seniors and it has succeeded in that effort.  Despite the rising cost of Medicare throughout the years, the increase in the cost of private insurance has continued to ensure that Medicare is the better deal.2 With Medicare acting as a healthcare safety net, it is no surprise that Medicare continues to be one of America’s more popular social welfare policies.

Medicare’s popularity does not negate the fact that there are problems present.  While the program does help cover many healthcare costs, it also has relatively high deductibles, no limit on out-of-pocket spending, and a coverage gap – the “donut hole” – in the prescription drug plan that will exist until 2020.3 Medicare also fails to cover long-term care costs.4 While these issues do represent some of the weaknesses currently present in the program, they are not the focus of recent political talks.  Congress is far more concerned with addressing growing concern over how Medicare will continue to be funded in light of the federal deficit.

It has become almost impossible to talk about Medicare without also mentioning the Baby Boomers.  It is estimated that there are over 70 million Baby Boomers – individuals born between the years 1946 to 1964 – expected to enter into the Medicare system throughout the next decade.5 As the number of beneficiaries grows at an unprecedented rate, there is a reasonable fear that funds from taxpayers will not be able to keep up with the growing demand.  The national government will be forced to pick up the slack during a time when the country is already facing a trillion dollar deficit.  Politicians are racing to find a balance between maintaining a popular welfare program and reducing the national debt.  While Medicare is not in danger of being completely demolished, there are concerns over how changes to the policy will impact consumers and taxpayers.

The issue over Medicare funding is made more complicated by disagreements between the two main political ideologies over how the deficit should be corrected.  Republicans tend to favor cutting government spending, which could result in less federal monetary support for Medicare.  Democrats, on the other hand, favor an increase in taxes.  This alternative places a heavier burden on the taxpayer during an economic period that still finds many people recovering from the recent economic downfall.  Neither solution offers a comprehensive solution.  Rather, the two groups will have to reach a compromise if Medicare is going to continue providing cheaper insurance options for the growing elderly population.

14Wessel, D. (2013, January 24). Whose budget fix is more popular?. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from

2Dugan, J. (13, June 2011). Private insurance vs. Medicare: truth in numbers. Retrieved from

3The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. The Kaiser Foundation, Medicare Policy. (2012). Medicare at a glance. Retrieved from The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation website:

4Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. (3, August 2012). Long-term care: what is long-term care?. Retrieved from

5 Haaga, J. (2002, December). Just how many baby boomers are there?. Retrieved from

Mayor Bloomberg’s Fight Against Obesity

by Kyle Jones

Obesity difference

During the summer of 2012, Mayor Bloomberg from New York attempted  to ban establishments from serving sugary soda larger than a 16oz cup to fight against obesity. According to the New York Times,  opponents of the law is calling Mayor Bloomberg’s ban arbitrary and capricious, and a New York State judge agreed with them. An injunction was issued one day before the law was to take effect.

This case raises an important issue such as governmental intervention in American’s health decisions. Many will argue that the government has no place in trying to regulate American’s health decisions. In other words, these people are advocates of individual responsibility for regulating health decisions.

So how can we take individual responsibility for regulating our food and drink intake? For one, watch what you eat. Doctors and health specialists around the country are seeking better dieting programs and encouraging people to watch what they eat and especially where their food is made from. Most big name companies which offer the many food products you see at your local food mart aren’t always properly treated. Some of the foods contain various chemicals and other substances which are harmful to your health.

One way to eating healthy is by buying your food from local farmers at farmers markets. The food they provide are  freshly grown and have less chemicals. Plus, it’s always a great deed to help out your fellow citizens who grow their own food and your food. Also, properly cook your food. Most of us are ignorant to the details of how food is being transported. So to diminish the possibility of words or other infections entering your body, make sure your food thoroughly.

Our bodies have its own mechanisms to fighting obesity; whether you’re awake or asleep. Your body is constantly feeding itself and using what you store to keep itself going. To help this process you need to implement constant movement in your lifestyle. Try to walk more to local areas, ride your bike, or run around your house a couple of times. Any bit of motion which does not involve sitting in a car can aid you into losing a couple of pounds.

Water helps obesityWhat I notice most people do not do is drink the recommended amount of water everyday. Most of the time I witness people drink juice, ice teas, sports drinks, and soda. Ingesting those liquids do not aide your body in replenishing itself. Our bodies are almost made entirely of water so ingesting the recommended amount keeps your body functioning normally.  The cells in your body are made of water and the dissolving property of water allows your cells to use the essentials during biological processes.

The last method I would like to mention is a substance which most people have never heard of. It is considered the tree of life and it provide everything you need. It is called the Moringa Oleifera tree. It is a tropical plant grown in usually semiarid, tropical, and subtropical areas. So why haven’t you heard it before? Maybe because of its INCREDIBLE health benefits which can supplement what you receive from milk, bananas, carrots, and oranges! According to Moringa Benefits, the tree, its roots, and its leaves all grant abundant nutritional value. You receive all of the following from this tree in one serving:

  • 125% daily value of Calcium
  • 61% daily value of Magnesium
  • 41% daily value of Potassium
  • 71% daily value of Iron
  • 272% daily value of Vitamin A
  • 22% daily value of Vitamin C

Moringa superfoodWith the above facts in mind, would you classify this tree as the tree of life?  If you are a skeptic, take the time to Google,  YouTube, or  whatever search method you want to find out the facts. You will be surprised by how many testimonials and videos are out their describing this amazing tree and its brilliant properties.

One problem though is the lack of abundance in the United States. If you live in hot and/or dry climate regions you can order the seeds yourself and grow them! They also sell capsules of crushed dried Moringa leaves on the Vitamin Shoppe website. They come in a bottle of about 60 capsules. So within 2 months compare how you felt now to then and notice the difference. I promise you’ll get what you paid for!

Mayor Bloomberg isn’t the only one who finds the obesity rate in our country a problem. It takes more than someone to tell you to get up and take care of yourself. You must be willing to motivate yourself into becoming a better individual. Take these methods, put your trust in them, and be the person you wish to see.

When the Hope of a Social Worker is Gone

Social Workers go where no other profession goes, and our primary job is to give hope to the hopeless. What happens when the hope of a Social Worker is gone? Social Workers don’t usually receive press unless a child dies or some sort of malfeasance occurs, but this is not the media’s fault. It’s the social worker’s responsibility to advocate and create opportunities to influence discussions occurring in the media. However, when an opportunity arises for a social worker to use a media platform to educate and inform, it often results in a missed opportunity. Instead, the megaphone is used to blame each other or shame the client for being poor, uneducated, homeless, and/or drug addicted.

In February 2013, Vice.com, an online magazine, printed an interview with a young social worker entitled, “Social Work in the Tenderloin Will Kill Something Inside of You”. This article stirred a lot of reaction from the social work community. The magazine had to redact items and pictures from the original article which could have been a breach of confidentiality by the social worker who was the source for the article. However, I read the article in its redacted form.

The social worker described clients as having poor hygiene, not wanting to work, and drug addicted while relying on government assistance. Here is an excerpt:

Twenty messages from the same two or three clients who either scream their financial requests over and over, simply sit there and breathe, or tell you that witches are under their beds waiting for the next blood sacrifice. Paranoid clients like to fixate on witches, Satan, etc. Anyway, we get ready to open and hand out checks to the clients who are either on daily budgets, or who make random check requests. The budgeted clients are the most low-functioning, as they can be restricted to as little as $7 per day in order to curb their harm reduction. They’ll go and spend that $7 on whatever piece of crack they can find, and then two hours later they’re back, begging for more money. Clients will find some really brilliant ways to beg.

Has anyone seen Les Miserables?  The scene described above is just a modern day retelling except, today, government assistance provides enough of a morsel to keep poor people under control. In Les Miserables, poverty and disease drove people to rob the rich in order to have a decent meal or a comfortable place to lay their head. Poverty and starvation was the driving force behind the French Revolution. As a cautionary tale to all our government officials that want to cut needed social safety programs, education, and preventive services, you might want to rethink instituting austerity measures.

TiredAs for the burnt out social worker who did the above interview, I understand feeling burnout and being frustrated with clients. However, my client frustration was exacerbated by the poor work conditions and poor supervision that is often encountered while working in a social service agency. These agencies are poorly structured, lack checks and balances, and accountability with a poor grievance process for both the client and employee. If you have a complaint, there is no one to complain too.

They do not require accreditation standards like hospitals, schools, and law enforcement agencies. Yet, social workers are given statutory authority to make decisions that can affect a child’s life for the rest of their life. If a child dies, the social worker often gets the blame, but the Agency should vicariously be held liable. The job is set up for the social worker to fail from lack of resources, support, failure to institute minimum standards and training, and lack of nationwide paperless system.

Ninety percent of my time in Child Protective Services was spent doing paper work, and I had 10% left to handle a caseload of at least 15 families. Holy crap is the only writable term I can think of to express the increase in my caseload when each family had 3 to 5 kids often not in the same household or the same school.  Can you imagine trying to see all the kids and parents twice a month for medium to low risk and once a week for high risk? It is impossible to do your job correctly and being effective is not even a possibility under the poor work conditions and impossible standards. You are basically providing triage care which creates recidivism. There were many days I cried after work, so I opted for the anti-depressant to help me survive each work day.

Almost all of my co-workers were women who had therapists themselves, on some type of anti-depressant, and self-reported chronic health issues in which I believe were stress related. After dealing with the stress of work, many had their own families to take care of after leaving work. I learned a long time ago not to blame my client because one day I could be in their shoes. I am not saying that you need to be poor or experience oppression to serve others. However, if you lack the understanding of oppression and the ability to have compassion, social work is not the right job for you. For those social workers who do have the requisite skill set, many can attest to the horrible work conditions that is endured while trying to give hope to the hopeless.

Many social workers live in fear of losing their jobs on a daily basis because one mistake could cost your career and/or someone’s life. Once an administrator or supervisor status is achieved, there is very little turn over from supervisory positions. They no longer deal directly with the clients, and they are often protected by governmental immunity even if their supervision result in malfeasance.

In the United States, many direct practice social workers in the public sector are not supported by the National Association of Social Workers either because they may not have a social work degree or a clinical license. The National Association of Social Workers is pushing to prevent any social worker, with a social work degree or not, who does not have a clinical license from using the social work title. I completely disagree with this strategy because a clinical license should not be required for entry level positions that are not providing treatment. Many public sector social workers feel isolated and unsupported which is why so many leave the profession or turn into the burnt out social worker. Most Child Welfare social workers do not even know what the Child Welfare League of America does or who they serve. If not for the States who have unions, human services may not have any organizations advocating for their betterment.

Someone has to advocate for system changes, and someone has to hold membership associations accountable to their mission of uplifting and supporting social workers. If social workers are not meeting desired educational standards, what are we doing to identify the barriers and challenges preventing those standards from being met?

I understand the views I have expressed may not be accepted by main stream social work professionals. However, macro and public sector social workers are the minority in management and policy making positions despite being the majority of those in traditional social work roles.  Policy making positions are routinely held by clinical social workers or Phd’s who have only been in academia or providing individual/family counseling services.

Many social work change agents are undervalued and often overlooked because most can’t afford to spend over 100,000 dollars to obtain a social work graduate degree to work in a $35,000 to 45,000 dollar a year entry level job at a public agency. Unless you are privileged and money is not a concern, a social work advance degree is less accessible. By accepting  students primarily from privileged backgrounds, the social work landscape has moved away from social justice issues and traditional social work roles to an increasingly conservative ideology that ignores the challenges and barriers placed on vulnerable populations created by legislative and administrative policies.

We also conducted a live twitter chat on this topic  with the social work twitter community using the hashtag #SWunited. To view the tweet archive,  go to this link: http://storify.com/SWUnited/social-work-in-the-tenderloin

Some may have strong opinions about my assessment on the current state of the profession.  However, strong opinions are sometimes needed in order to start the conversation, and  I am ready to have the conversation if you are. If anyone has any thoughts on this article, I would love to hear them. There were several rebuttal articles and lots of tweets in response to Vice’s Tenderloin story. I will attach them all for you to read in order to come to your own conclusion.

Also View:
Social Work in the Tenderloin Will Kill Something Inside of You
Social Work in the Tenderloin is Not Hopeless

How Does Lack of Child Care Impact Escaping Poverty

By any account, the current state of subsidized child care funding is in crisis. Too many people need services, too few dollars are allocated to these programs to cover the influx of new potential recipients, or even to maintain those already on the roster. Historically, providing funding at the federal level for child care subsidy programs was a challenge. This was due to cultural beliefs that to a certain extent, this program should not be needed; a parent should be in the home to provide care for preschool aged children. It took the cultural shift of seeing women in the role of wage-earning individuals, as well as a financial shift where her work outside the home was becoming increasingly important to the financial viability of the family.

child careIn 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (AKA, 1996 Welfare Reform Act) restructured the support system for poor families and individuals in the United States. The main objective of this reform legislation was to encourage people away from government support (welfare) toward gainful employment.

There is a large focus on time limits to receive benefits, participation in work related activities and some allowance for education to provide better chance of gaining full time employment. The federal Act set a base level of standards but allowed the states leeway to reduce the time constraints further. Prior to this legislation, federal support of child care was an entitlement for poor families, and any family participating in Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) qualified for this assistance.

The block grant reduced the budget for such assistance, even when combined with the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). It also tightened the requirements for obtaining such assistance, though more people were expected to need help, due to the increased work/work activity requirement The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated a funding shortfall of $1.8 billion. This legislation did allow states flexibility to reassign some funds from one program to another to better fit the needs of their citizens. It also allowed participants to select their own care provider. The challenge in this is the legislation did little to support quality improvements for out-of -home child care facilities. A small percentage  “up to 4″ of a states’ child care funding can be used for this cause.

As a result of the recession in the late 2000’s, a new wave of challenges to the federal government’s ability to provide financial assistance for child care was experienced. A portion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided additional funds for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) TANF, to support the increase participation in that program. In 2010, the CCDBG provided child care payment assistance to approximately 1.7 million children. This covered only one of every six children that were eligible for the program during the time period studied.

According to a recent report by the National Women’s Law Center, in 27 states, less funding was provided to child care subsidies in 2012 than in 2011. The situation improved for families in 17 states. This is only the second year in a row that conditions improved in fewer states than they deteriorated.The continued economic struggles of this country will make federal and state funding of these programs an ongoing challenge. It can be argued, that making funding of child care a priority will help to stabilize the economy. This ideology will be discussed further in the next post.

By any account, the current state of subsidized child care funding is in crisis. Too many people need services, too few dollars are allocated to these programs to cover the influx of new potential recipients, or even to maintain those already on the roster. Historically, providing funding at the federal level for child care subsidy programs was a challenge. This was due to cultural beliefs that to a certain extent, this program should not be needed; a parent should be in the home to provide care for preschool aged children. It took the cultural shift of seeing women in the role of wage-earning individual, as well as a financial shift where her work outside the home was becoming increasingly important to the financial viability of the family, for funding to become supportable in the long term.

In 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (AKA, 1996 Welfare Reform Act) restructured the support system for poor families and individuals in the United States. The main objective of this reform legislation was to encourage people away from government support (welfare) toward gainful employment. There is a large focus on time limits to receive benefits, participation in work related activities and some allowance for education to provide better chance of gaining full time employment. The federal Act set a base level of standards but allowed the states leeway to reduce the time constraints further.

Prior to this legislation, federal support of child care were available for poor families. Any family participating in Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) qualified for this assistance. The block grant reduced the budget for such assistance, even when combined with the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). It also tightened the requirements for obtaining such assistance, though more people were expected to need help, due to the increased work/work activity requirement The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated a funding shortfall of $1.8 billion.This legislation did allow states flexibility to reassign some funds from one program to another to better fit the needs of their citizens. It also allowed participants to select their own care provider.

The challenge in this is the legislation did little to support quality improvements in outside the home care. A small “up to” 4 percent of a states’ child care funding can be used for this cause. This legislation did allow states flexibility to reassign some funds from one program to another to better fit the needs of their citizens. It also allowed participants to select their own care provider. The challenge in this is the legislation did little to support quality improvements in outside the home care. A small “up to” 4 percent of a states’ child care funding can be used for this cause.

As a result of the recession in the late 2000’s, a new wave of challenges to the federal government’s ability to provide financial assistance for child care was experienced. A portion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided additional funds for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) TANF, to support the increase participation in that program. In 2010, the CCDBG provided child care payment assistance to approximately 1.7 million children. This covered only one of every six children that were eligible for the program during the time period studied. According to a recent report by the National Women’s Law Center, in 27 states, less funding was provided to child care subsidies in 2012 than in 2011. The situation improved for families in 17 states, but this is only the second year in a row that conditions improved in fewer states than they deteriorated. The continued economic struggles of this country will make federal and state funding of these programs an ongoing challenge.

For Further Reading

NASW Legislation Summary
Sourcewatch – 1996 Welfare Reform
DHHS Fact Sheet – TANF
Policy Almanac – Child Care
Parents and the High Cost of Child Care

Photo credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara | Child care providers, parents, children and others gather for a rally at the H. Lee Dennison building in Hauppauge, to protest Suffolk County’s cuts to child care subsidies. (Aug. 30, 2012)

Medicare: How It All Got Started

Medicare is a federally regulated social welfare policy that is funded from income taxes, monthly premiums deducted from Social Security, and Congress.  This policy specifically targets all individuals 65 and older, as well as persons with disabilities or permanent kidney failure.  It is estimated that there were roughly 50 million Medicare beneficiaries in the United States between 2010 and 2011, approximately 16% of the total US population.  Of those 50 million, 83% were eligible for Medicare because they were 65 or older.1   In fact, aging adults and their access to health care were the original motives behind creating Medicare.

francisperkinsConcerns for the aging and their health started to become a national and political concern during the Great Depression of the 1930s.  During this time, elderly adults and their families were presented with an interesting dilemma.  Historically, children were responsible for the care of their aging parents.  Given the financial despair of this time period, however, individuals had fewer and fewer financial resources with which to support themselves and their aging family members.  Medical costs were consistently the main issue for the elderly and a conversation began to form on how the United States government could provide assistance in the face of this growing concern.2

The economic changes that occurred during the Great Depression also led to a shift in how social welfare was viewed.  As more people struggled against the weight of financial depression, more people became open to the idea of government intervention.  The establishment of the Social Security Act of 1935 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt brought about the creation of many social welfare policies.  This major piece of legislation also brought a new group of professionals to the political table: social workers.  Frances Perkins, Harry Hopkins, and Whitney Young were some of the major players involved in the creation of the Social Security Act, and their knowledge and experiences as social workers enabled them to help the president properly address the concerns of American citizens in need.   In fact, the ideals of equality took the United States by storm in the 1950s and 1960s as issues of civil rights took storm.  The general opinion of the public during this time favored a more liberal perspective with Democrats becoming the majority party, and it was this more liberal ideal that helped support President Lyndon B. Johnson’s decision to make Medicare apart of America’s social welfare system in 1965.

Several conservatives during the 1960s felt that Medicare – and the other welfare policies bundled within the revamped Social Security Amendments of 1965 – was a shift toward socialism and that it was not the place of our government to interfere in personal matters, such as health care and medical insurance.  Ronald Reagan produced a record titled “Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine” in which he warns that Medicare will encourage other federal programs that “will invade every area of freedom we have known in this country.”3  Reagan also encouraged listeners to write to Congress or else “we will wake to find that we have socialism.”3  Physicians were also among the people opposed to Medicare, and they argued that Medicare would inevitably lead to a deterioration of care.  This argument supported the idea that the government had no place telling educated professionals of medicine how to best provide and execute health care.4  Despite the opposition and accusations of socialism, Medicare became a policy in 1965 and more than 19 million individuals aged 65 and older were enrolled in the program just a year later.

It can be easy to dismiss the history of Medicare because it is a program that most people have heard mentioned all of their lives.  Given the general public popularity of the program today, it can also be difficult to comprehend a time when Medicare was fought against and defined as socialized medicine.  The history of the program is important to consider because it gives us a better idea of the general framework of the program, and it also helps us to better understand how the policy and opinions of the policy may have changed over time.

Reference

1The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. (2012, September 7). United States: Medicare enrollment. Retrieved from http://www.statehealthfacts.org/profileind.jsp?sub=74&rgn=1&cat=6

2The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. (Producer) (2012, December 17). The story of Medicare: A timeline. [Video ]. Retrieved from http://www.kff.org/medicare/medicare-timeline2.cfm

3Reagan, Ronald.  Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine. Operation Coffee Cup Campaign.  American Medical Association, 1961, Phonograph Record. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRdLpem-AAs

4Kristof, N. (2009, November 18). The wrong side of history. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/19/opinion/19kristof.html?_r=0

Social Media for Social Good 1st in Series: Choosing a Domain

by Thejas Kamath

Choosing a domain name for your blog, business, or organization is crucial to producing the desired results that will drive traffic to your web page. It also requires a lot of effort from your side to find the best suited names for the best outcomes. Choosing a domain name has become quite difficult because the Internet is growing and people are registering thousands of domain names daily. There are several steps that I recommend before buying a domain name. The wrong domain selection can get you into trouble and cause you much difficulty later on. Most importantly, a well thought out domain selection may increase your opportunities for getting better Search Engine Results Page (SERP) rankings. Taking time to research and learn the history of your domain will be imperative to your long-term success. Domain names can make or break your website aspirations.

Check For Trademarks Violation-Checking for trademark violations is an important precaution to take prior to buying a domain name. Buying a domain name that has an existing trademark could result being sued, penalties and monetary damages. It is best practice to always check for existing trademarks before purchasing a domain name. You can check for trademark availability at the United States Patent and Trademark Office located at USPTO.gov or using this free online tool.

I have used the tool mentioned above to check for existing Trademark infringements for the phrase “Google”.  View the screenshot below. If you find the domain of your choice has already been registered for most of the world, you should move to your second choice. Using a domain with trademark protections can be costly and not worth the headache.

Trademark checker tool

Google is very important for the survival of any  blog, business,  or organization because it is the most widely used search engine in the world. Additionally, it offers companion products like Adsense that will allow you to monetize your site to generate income. There are several steps that you can take to review your domains history with Google.

Check Whether Google Has Banned  Your Chosen Domain From Search- If you buy a banned domain name, there is a process where you can request Google for reconsideration. However, this process may take several weeks. In utilizing this option, Google may or may not reconsider removing  the banned domain. Using a domain that has not been banned, it will allow you to navigate the process quickly and more efficiently. Here are several tools to help you determine whether Google has banned your chosen domain:

1) iWebTool

2) BannedCheck.com

Check AdSense Has Banned The Domain – Google AdSense is one of the best and top paying Ad Networks out there. It is definitely worth your time to ensure your desired domain is not on the Adsense banned list. To achieve the benefits of Adsense,  you would have to spend plenty of time experimenting with other Ad Networks to gain the same results. Here are a couple of tools to do this recommended check:

1) AdSense Sandbox

2) IsBanned

Social Media Username Availability- Branding your blog, business, or organization is one of the most important steps you can take in establishing your website as a trustworthy source. Social media is the best cost-effective way to begin creating a brand for yourself. It can generate a lot of traffic to your website. Ideally, it’s always great to have social media usernames to be the same as your domain name. For example, lazy people like may assume your twitter and domain is the same and go to . It would be irritating if the person searching for your page finds some other page which may translate into you losing followers. Finally, check for the availability of Social Media usernames using this great tool, which can search 150 networks at the same time for username availability.

Also View:

Cyber-Law by Harvard Law.

Visit Thejas Kamath on his blog called SayBlogger, and you can also follow him on Twitter @sayblogger.

Social Work Practice and Values

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.

Fighting Sex Trafficking From the Front Lines: The People Who Inspire Series: Sarah Elizabeth Pahman

Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian’s “The People Who Inspire series” highlights individuals from a variety of backgrounds and occupations who are seeking to impact the lives of others in a positive way. Through Truth-Telling: the honest sharing of their own experiences, they teach us a little about themselves, hopefully enabling us to be able to learn a little about ourselves through their stories.

Today’s post features Sarah Elizabeth Pahman, Treatment Foster Care Social Worker, and advocate for women and girls.

Could you tell us a little about your background and what led you to your current work?

My passion for trauma work originally began in a class I took at my alma mater, UW-Madison, where I learned about sex trafficking and began doing research on Somaly Mam and her non-profit organization in Phnom Penh, Cambodia – rescuing young girls enslaved into prostitution. I learned about 8-year-old girls being sold for high prices to men with AIDs who believed they could be cured by raping a virgin. These young girls were sewn back up again and again, resold as virgins to make large profits for their captors.

This modern form of slavery opened my eyes to the most pressing issue of our time, sex and labor trafficking – and led me to get involved in organizations in my city that focused on trauma.

I interned as a trauma counselor for sexual abuse victims in a domestic violence agency, and again did trauma therapy in a non-profit focused solely on supporting survivors of sexual abuse and sexual violence. This is where I began to connect the dots about domestic trafficking, and saw it is not just an international issue, but an issue on our own streets in the United States.

Although not all prostitutes are sex trafficking victims, ALL sex trafficking victims are pimped out as prostitutes, on the streets, in brothels, escort services, and in massage parlors. As I became more aware of this issue I began to volunteer at outreach programs in my city that focused on harm reduction and education for prostituted women.

We got in an old, beat up van with the entire backseat filled with bagged lunches and rapid HIV tests, and we drove the blighted neighborhoods where street prostitution and survival sex is known to be happening. We handed out food, condoms, gave HIV tests, “bad date” sheets (information for women in the sex trade that gives crime information, for example, the description of a John who beat a girl, or raped her, or didn’t pay her, and what street it happened on), and resources. Witnessing the reality of street prostitution made me realize just how inadequate harm reduction is – a band-aid on a gaping wound.

During my graduate field work I also began seeing how young girls end up in coercive situations. Vulnerable children and teenagers looking for a place to belong, and in need of guidance from parents and family that weren’t able, or simply not willing to provide it. Girls within foster care, involved with the child welfare system, are finding themselves on the streets and willing to do anything for a man who pays attention, shows love, care, and concern. These girls, due to their yearning for love, are easy victims for a pimp/trafficker with a slick mouth and a knack for business.

After I graduated I knew I wanted to stay on the frontlines, and I knew trauma was where I belonged. Taking the knowledge I’d gained from my field work I got involved in Treatment Foster Care Social Work in order to stay involved with a vulnerable population I am passionate about: teenage girls, most from abusive backgrounds, who are involved in the system. Being a strong role model and consistently present, supportive, and assertive force in a teenage girl’s life is a preventive measure. It is a preventive measure that can help keep girls away from prostitution, and the risk of being pimped, trafficked, and enslaved. This is how, and why, I got involved in my current work.

I know that you’re very passionate about trauma work. Can you tell us what that means to you?

Trauma work, for me, equates to being up to date on current research on trauma informed care, and applying it to direct practice. Trauma work is about asking people what happened to them, not what is wrong with them. Trauma work is about addressing underlying causes, and understanding that addressing the root problem can help cure present symptoms. Trauma work is about believing people’s stories, not trying to figure out what is a lie, and what is truth.

So many times we approach people with suspicion, and distrust in them – when the truth is it is not the stories making sense that should matter so much to us, but the message the person is trying to send us about themselves by telling us their stories. This is where trauma work lives, in the messages behind the stories.

In your view, what do you think are some necessary elements that are needed to be effective in this kind of work?

Sarah at a
Take Back The Night event for survivors of sexual violence.


To be effective in this kind of work one needs, first and foremost, to be able to connect with people who have every right, and reason, not to want to connect.

Many times in this field people have had previous experience with social workers, and it can leave them with quite a negative view of what we do and what our purpose is in their lives. Sometimes people view us in the same negative light as they view the police, or they had a bad experience with a social worker and have stereotyped us in a certain way.

Social work has quite negative connotations in some communities. My job as a social worker is to remain mindful of this truth, and respectful of this truth – while also remaining consistent in my work. In this field one must align their thoughts, feelings, and actions and be deliberate and honest in their intentions in order to be effective. “Being real” and authentic with people is key. Being able to have those hard conversations is a must.

We have to master the art of gentle confrontation, and be able to word harsh truths into a conversation that people are willing to have with us. We have to prevent shame by remaining open, honest, compassionate, and free of criticism and judgment. These are the essential ingredients for this type of work. We cannot “try” to be these things, we have to BE these things. For myself this is where the spiritual mixes with the real world.

Do you have any other issues that you’re interested in working on or working with others in terms of social justice/equity?

My life’s purpose is the pursuit of social justice for women and girls who have been marginalized by family background, life circumstance, economics, culture, society, and the systems we have in place.

My purpose is being a presence, a witness & a voice in the deepest trenches of women’s oppression. For me, the frontlines for social justice lie in the streets of the sex trade and in addressing trauma in people’s lives. So many times it is sexual, physical, emotional abuse that is the root cause of drug and alcohol addiction, mental health issues, low self-esteem, and undesirable behaviors.

My purpose is to get to the roots, and not reject that darkness when it is pulled up in people’s lives.

What are the parts of your work that you find most enjoyable?

What I find most enjoyable is seeing people acknowledge that they are stronger than they may have thought they were. Seeing kids who have every right to give up, and yet they persist. I enjoy witnessing a kid begin to recognize their emotions, and to name them. I enjoy watching kids and adults begin to link their trauma to their behaviors. I enjoy challenging kids to problem solve with me, and to take responsibility for themselves.

What aspects do you find challenging?

Apathy is the most challenging part of my work. Having kids who just do not want to take an active role in their own lives. Seeing adults make promises they cannot keep to children who have already been so let down is another challenge, because it is hard not to feel helpless when we see children being hurt.

You also share some of your thoughts though your blog: Rooted In Being. How did your blog come about? Do you have any words of advice for anyone who might want to start their own thoughts for social justice in terms of transforming their ideas to action?

Fostering Community

My advice for those interested in social justice is to find a focus, and stick to it. We cannot change the world by taking on the entire world, but if we can take on one aspect of social justice that really moves us and gets us fired up, then we can produce change.

Turning words into action involves getting involved in our communities. It is about understanding the issue on a macro scale and then finding out how that issue affects us locally. The next step is jumping in feet first, acknowledging that we are not the experts, allowing the discomfort of being immersed in something challenging – and remaining self-aware.

What/Who Inspires you?

Somaly Mam inspires me, Gloria Steinem inspires me, Melissa Farley’s research inspires me, Mona Eltahawy inspires me – as do so many of the activists in my city that I have learned and gained so much from.

What have been the Keys to your success so far?

I know that my success so far has come from being able to see how beauty and tragedy is intertwined. Being able to witness immense forms of emotional pain day in and day out, and still ponder the trees, and the universe – and its immense beauty.

I can remember having an especially difficult time when I first began interning as a trauma counselor, and my saving grace was catching the bus home with my headphones on every night – and looking up at the stars in the night sky, taking a deep breath, and accepting that I do not have control, nor understanding of how and why the world is such a painful, exquisite experience.

Acceptance of not knowing, and being fully present in the moment – has been my key.

Social Workers Protesting in the Street? Where in the World….UK Edition

Photos by Community Care UK

The National Association of Social Workers’ website called “Social Workers Speak”  recently did an article on the uproar of British Social Workers caused by the soap opera “EastEnders”.  The article further states that British Social Workers are protesting the use of public funds to finance a television show that is providing misinformation and oppressive practices by a Social Worker on the show.

However, this is not the only issue that has angered British Social Workers. On October 20, 2012, Austerity measures instituted by the British Government has Social Workers and other public sector workers protesting in the street as result of cuts to public services.

The British Association of Social Workers issued a statement on its support and participation in the rally against the government’s failed economic policies which led to massive spending cuts to public services. Also, the British Social Work Action Network worked in concert to help organize Social Workers for a strong showing of solidarity.

According to the United Kingdom’s Community Care Social Work Blog, these massive cuts and the confusion on proposed cuts are affecting worker’s ability to staff their units as well as provide services to those in need.  Governments in Spain and Greece also utilized austerity economic plans which have also retarded growth of their economies.

The United States was the only government in recession to opt for an economic stimulus plan which protected public sector jobs and services. Although many argue that the stimulus plan did not work, the United States has not seen a regression in the economy like other world governments instead has experienced growth.

However, the Romney/Ryan budget is an austerity economic plan that will slash public sector jobs and services with its proposed spending cuts. As Social Workers, we pride ourselves on using evidence-based models to assess what is working and what’s not working in order to provide efficient delivery of services.

How many government workers in modernize countries utilizing austerity economic policies will it take to make us think twice about the devastation a Romney/Ryan ticket will do to this country and our profession?

The STEM of the Issue….A New Evidence-Based Learning Model

[This is an opinion piece submitted by Joseph Bostic, Jr Founder of Retention Frontiers, Inc, and Samantha Go of Solsolution and organization focusing on Solar Technology within STEM. Retention Frontiers serves underprivileged teens and young adults through STEM, programs, events and workshops. For more information you can connect on Twitter at @RetentFrontiers or at http://www.retentionfrontiers.com.]

A social worker help improves the quality of life for families, individuals,
and communities. Often times, a social worker provides an assessment of one
or more systems. A social worker could significantly improve the quality of life
by implementing STEM representing (Science, Technology, Engineering and
Mathematics) in their education practices. STEM is a robust and efficient
model that offers elements of development and progress for the United
States unemployment rate.

As of September, the United States unemployment rate hovered just
above 8%, amongst the highest percentages that the U.S. has seen in over 3
decades. With all the media attention on the lack of available jobs in this
country, it may come as a surprise that there are actually an abundance of job
openings right now. The manufacturing industry currently has over 3 million
open jobs but is simply struggling to fill them. Why? America has an extreme
scarcity of skilled workers. There simply are not enough people with the
capacity to meet the demand of the available jobs.

The heart of the problem lies in the American education system and
the minimal emphasis that is placed on the science and technology fields in
primary schooling. Students today are simply not motivated or inspired to
learn the skills to prepare them for work in these industries. A social worker
plays a critical role in validating the readiness for families. Social workers
implementing STEM as a resource provides families with skills that other
families lack. For example, families would attain critical thinking and problem
solving skills from implemented STEM resources. This implementation is an
important branch of STEM education, which results in opportunities. STEM is a
new catchphrase in education transcending in the past few years, and its
mission is to help students understand the elements of the natural and
designed worlds.

Typically, students are taught mathematics and science in separate
classrooms with clear divisions. However, the boundaries between the
different disciplines within STEM education are actually blurred. STEM
education believes that students should have a certain level of fluency in all
four areas. As jobs in the United States and the world in general, become
increasingly reliant upon science and technology, STEM has become one of
the most important education movements to date. A great example of this
movement is an individual ability to use the theory of calculus or the theory
of trigonometry to solve problems. The difference between calculus and
trigonometry are individual’s ability to solve problems and develop
sustainable solutions with calculus and trigonometry providing different skill
levels. Calculus will help individuals understand changes over a period of time
using the theory of derivatives or understanding angles using trigonometry.

One problem is that students are not informed about the opportunities
they will have with a proper STEM education. A poll of U.S. high school
students found that 44% said that they would be more interested in a career
in engineering after they learned that this was the discipline responsible for
the release of the Chilean miners in 2010. Students simply don’t understand
the extent to which STEM education can offer a wide variety of careers that
extend far beyond the stereotypical image of lab technician or research
scientist, which can seem intense, daunting, or even just boring.

In order to prevent these opportunities from passing students by any
longer, STEM education needs to be encouraged at a young age and
maintained throughout the education process. Social workers aligning with
organizations similar to SolSolution and Retention Frontiers understanding
STEM will increase students and families’ opportunities to succeed. Thankfully,
a movement for more STEM education may spark a newfound interest in our
schools soon. Examples of recent attempts and initiatives include Sesame
Street’s focus on STEM education for their upcoming 2011-2012 season.
Social workers implementing STEM in their “Social Mechanisms” model will
engage all families and improve their opportunities to succeed.

We offer workshops such as The Power of STEM, Hooking up With Your STEM, Financial Literacy, Discovering the Leadership Qualities in YOU, and Health Prevention. Also, you can connect with one of our partners, SolSolution, on Twitter at @solsolution or at .

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