Thursday, March 31, 2016

Social Workers and Librarians Working Together to 'Humanize' the Homeless

In recent years, public libraries have increasingly hired social workers to help with at-risk populations get the resources they need. CityLab has an article about San Jose hiring the first library social worker to help connect the homeless patrons with assistance, mental services, and counseling. The homeless often take refuge at the public library where they find shelter from inclement weather and a daytime roof where they have access to media.
“These programs are humanizing homelessness throughout the library,” says Esguerra. “The library becomes a sanctuary for many of the patrons and our program helps them to feel safe again.”

Related content:

Monday, March 14, 2016

NYTimes: The Faces of American Power, Nearly as White as the Oscar Nominees

The New York Times published an article that reveals diversity statistics of the most powerful people in American culture, government, education, and business. Of the 503 most powerful people in the country, only 44 are from racial or ethnic minorities. The representation of minority leaders in the U.S. president’s cabinet is the most diverse, seven out of 17 members of President Barack Obama’s cabinet are from minorities.

The Atlantic: The Concentration of Poverty in American Schools

The Atlantic has a special report on the growing socioeconomic segregation in the nation's largest school districts. The sad reality is most African American and Hispanic students attend public schools where a majority of their classmates qualify as poor or low-income:
This systemic economic and racial isolation looms as a huge obstacle for efforts to make a quality education available to all American students. Researchers have found that the single-most powerful predictor of racial gaps in educational achievement is the extent to which students attend schools surrounded by other low-income students.

Underscoring the breadth of the challenge, the economic segregation of minority students persists across virtually all types of cities, from fast-growing Sunbelt places like Austin, Denver, Dallas, and Charlotte to struggling Rust Belt communities like Detroit, Cleveland, and Milwaukee, to the nation’s largest metropolitan centers, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston. But cities, educators, and researchers are also exploring new ways to abate the negative impact of concentrated poverty on black and brown students.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

NASW: Social Workers in Government Agencies

In 2011, the NASW Center for Workforce Studies and Social Work Practice released the occupational profile, Social Workers in Government Agencies.

Social workers are key employees in federal, state, and local government agencies. Social workers may work on-site at a government agency; at a non-governmental agency whose client base is generated from their relationship with a government agency; or in a contracting relationship as independent consultants. The range of government settings in which social workers practice include: agencies serving children and families; health care settings; schools; federal, state or local correctional facilities; nursing homes and agencies in aging; and agencies serving military veterans and active duty military personnel. In the federal government, the larger employer of social workers include the Social Security Administration, Veterans Administration, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Justice; and Department of Health and Human Services.

The occupational profile is very comprehensive. However, my biggest complaint with this document is that it overlooks social workers in macro-level roles such as policy analyst, program specialist, or public health educator. A growing number of social workers have non-clinical job titles. For example, becoming a Presidential Management Fellow is one way to launch a macro social worker career in the federal government. Greater awareness of social workers pursuing careers in policy and program evaluation is necessary so that students who are interested in politics or public policy know their options.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Professional Competencies for Social Workers

March is Social Work Month. Social work is a helping profession aimed to help those in need. What do social workers do?
  • Social workers help individuals, families, and groups restore or enhance their capacity for social functioning, and work to create societal conditions that support communities in need.
  • The practice of social work requires knowledge of human development and behavior, of social, economic and cultural institutions, and of the interaction of all these factors.
  • Social workers help people of all backgrounds address their own needs through psychosocial services and advocacy.
  • Social workers help people overcome some of life’s most difficult challenges: poverty, discrimination, abuse, addiction, physical illness, divorce, loss, unemployment, educational problems, disability, and mental illness. They help prevent crises and counsel individuals, families, and communities to cope more effectively with the stresses of everyday life.
All social workers should be familiar with professional competencies in the social work profession. I provide a sample below:

National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics

MSW/ACOSA – EPAS MATRIX for Core Macro Practice Competencies

State of Michigan Social Work Grid - Scope of Practice (Clinical & Macro)

Don't forget to browse books about careers in social work at the Michigan Girl's Social Justice Bookstore.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Social Work Month 2016: Forging Solutions Out of Challenges

March is Social Work Month 2016. The official theme is 'Forging Solutions Out of Challenges'. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) picked this theme to honor macro social worker Frances Perkins. She used the skills she gained from her experience at Chicago's Hull House to formulate policies that addressed unsafe working conditions and economic crises. She would become the first female secretary of labor and cabinet member in President Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration. She used that position to improve conditions for working Americans. As an advocate of safer workplaces and workers' rights, her contributions helped create the American middle class.

From NASW:

Our nation’s more than 600,000 social workers have amazing tenacity and talent. They confront some of the most challenging issues facing individuals, families, communities and society and forge solutions that help people reach their full potential and make our nation a better place to live. We celebrate the contributions of social workers during National Social Work Month in March.
World Social Work Day 2016 is on March 15th. The theme ‘Promoting the Dignity and Worth of Peoples'.