Elevating Awareness to Push for a Better Future
Throughout the month of March, which is National Social Work Month, we’re participating in the NASW’s “Elevate Social Work” campaign. With the general public often unaware of the important contributions social workers make to society, the Elevate Social Work campaign aims to raise awareness and highlight the importance of the profession.
Social workers work the the most vulnerable and underserved portions of the American population. By helping these groups, social workers not only change individual lives, they make our entire country stronger and safer. Social workers often work in stressful, difficult conditions, which can lead to professional burn out. This month, we’re looking at how we can elevate society by advocating for social workers. Here’s what you can do to help.
Support safer working conditions
Many people don’t realize how dangerous social work can be. While the vast majority of clients engage positively with social workers, the few who become violent can create tragic outcomes for social workers. According to NASW president Angelo McLain, social work is one of the most dangerous 10 professions.
Currently, a bill is in congress that requires agencies to provide their social workers with safety training and make workplace violence prevention plans. McLain encourages the public to support this bill, as it will make conditions safer for social workers, as well as the people they serve.
Advocate for increased social service funding
Social workers often hope to provide more community resources to their clients but simply don’t have appropriate referrals to make. Increased funding for social services across the board would make it easier to create healthy societies by help the most vulnerable meet their basic needs and get the treatment they need. In California, there are currently proposed bills to create easier access to housing and subsidized day care. Supporting these bills, as well as similar bills in your community, will decrease barriers to access for clients.
Champion higher salaries
Social workers are trained professionals with degrees, but their average salary of under $50,000 a year lags behind other similar professions like teaching. Lower salaries contribute to the high attrition rate in the profession, as well as the thousands of social work vacancies that go unfilled every year. According to McClain, a bill will be introduced in congress soon that mandates increasing Medicare pay rates for social workers. Supporting this bill as well as similar ones will help social workers earn a fair living wage.
Keep elevating social work beyond the month of March! You can stay informed about the profession by following these websites:
socialworkers.org – The NASW’s official website regularly posts news relevant to social work. You can also listen to their podcast and subscribe to their newsletter.
socialworkersspeak.org – Social Worker’s Speak focuses on how the social work profession is portrayed by the media. The NASW sponsors this site.
socialworkhelper.com – SWHELPER is a comprehensive website that provides news, resources, and information related to the social work profession and social justice topics.
socialworktoday.com – This print and digital magazine has been acting as a resource for social workers for 15 years. Articles discuss social work news, resources, and professional development.