Social work is a fast growing field, estimated to have a 20% growth rate in the next 10 years, and this profession will see a change in how we do business. The high need for social work is bittersweet. Ideally, we would put ourselves out of a job, but instead we are seeing an increased need for professionals in the mental health field. We need these providers to be at the forefront of change; working in prevention, intervention, and long term needs. We need social workers.
The trouble is that it’s difficult to be a social worker. On the job we face high volume case loads, long hours, and crisis after crisis that leaves providers emotionally and physically exhausted. Unfortunately, these aren’t the only obstacles we face. Social workers are mental health practioners who are required to have a Masters level education and usually obtain licensure in their respective states. They work towards continuing education hours and often attend conferences and trainings for specializations. Despite this specialized skillset, social workers continue to make the list of the lowest paid professionals whether it is on Forbes, career-advice, or the Bureau of labor statistics. In addition, social workers graduate with an average of over $35,000 in student loan debt. The combination of low pay and high loan amount means that social workers are having trouble keeping their heads above water. While a few loan forgiveness programs exist, few offer real availability for jobs without relocating, or have starting salaries well below the average. Some areas are also excluded from any forgiveness or reimbursement programs that are available, despite high needs, or at risk populations.
So far, I’m painting a fairly bleak picture of why anyone would want to become a social worker. But there are opportunities to seize if the profession can come together. The Social Work Reinvestment Act is one of the ways social workers can advocate for betterment. Although not a “fix-all,” this bill could promote higher salaries, better forgiveness or scholarship opportunities, and more funds for the field. It is a step we must take together in order to head in the right direction. The support of the Social Work Caucus can only go so far. Legislators are only going to be interested in a bill that is championed for. If social workers aren’t calling for action, why should they? The first step is collecting the signatures. The next is advocating for our representatives to take action. Social workers are not individuals; we live, breathe, and work as a “social” collective. It is time we started advocating as such.
Next Goal : 40,000
Social Work Reinvestment ActRead the petition
|23,464||Grace Su||California||May 22, 2015|
|23,463||arthur ilizarov||New York||May 15, 2015|
|23,462||Marianne Samaritano||New Jersey||May 14, 2015|
|23,461||Ilana Hernandez||NY||May 13, 2015|
|23,460||Adriana Masucci||New Jersey||May 13, 2015|
|23,459||Joe M||MN||May 13, 2015|
|23,458||Daniela Masucci||New Jersey||May 13, 2015|
|23,457||Shaina Tinsley||NJ||May 12, 2015|
|23,456||Lauren Rose||Michigan||May 11, 2015|
|23,455||Veronica Washington||Virginia||Please help social workers!||May 11, 2015|
By: Courtney Kidd, LMSW