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It is time to reinvest in social work and Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland plans to do just that as the nation faces a shortage of social workers. Senator Mikulski knows just how essential social workers are because she is one. The Social Work Reinvestment Act attempts to draw more individuals into the profession. It seeks to establish grants for education, office improvements, and research. In addition, a commission to study social workers, their roles, and how to retain them in the profession hopes to provide greater insight to the inner workings of the job. Finally, Senator Mikulski’s proposal would create a media campaign to promote social work. All highly necessary points in order to continue building the profession.
Will this plan draw more people into social work? Sadly it might not be so easy. Each section of the Reinvestment Act is reasonable, there is a need for increased research, grants, and promotion, but that isn’t what keeps people from choosing the field. This is a wonderful start to reinvesting in social work, and SJS wholeheartedly supports its implementation, but it does not address low incomes, high loans, and negligent funding for programs. Are there less social workers or are there just less social work jobs? Are students not choosing social work or are they just turned off by the ridiculous education costs when compared to salary reimbursement?
Not only does the government need to reinvest in social work, social work does as well. Social workers must promote themselves and rise together. Senator Mikulski in particular should know the sort of impact that social workers could have in policy and government, because as she knows, this is the way to change the system.
This Act can demonstrate the importance of the social work, but the next step must be to raise the bar, which is of course SJS’s mission. We are not alone in acknowledging the need for social workers who are directly involved in the political process. The Congressional Research institute For Social Work and Policy (CRISP) has recently been formed with just this aim. In addition there is the Social Work Caucus, launched by the esteemed former Congressman Edolphus Townes.
There are also myriad of self-started initiatives such as Social Workers Unite, SocialWorkHelper.com, SWSC Media, and The Network Of Professional Social Workers to name just a few. It is no coincide that all of this is happening at once as these are dire times for the profession and American society. Please share this post so other social workers can know the lengths that others are advocating for them. Its time for social work to have a united voice, what better way then to support the Social Work Reinvestment Act!
By: Courtney Kidd, LMSW
SJS Staff Writer