Updated: Oct 6
Social work is one of the fastest growing professions int the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). There are currently about 700,000 professional social workers in our nation, but that number is expected to rise to more than 800,000 by 2029, BLS said.
Social work has been around for more than a century and has made significant contributions to our nation. For example, social workers such as social reformer Jane Addams, former Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, and civil rights leaders Dorothy Height, Whitney Young and Ida B. Wells have helped Americans secure voting rights, equal rights, Social Security, unemployment insurance, and other programs.
You will also find social workers throughout society – protecting children from abuse and neglect, providing mental health and substance use disorder treatment, assisting active duty military, veterans and their families, in schools, helping corporations better serve their communities, and in community organizations as well as in local, state and government.
During the Coronavirus pandemic, social workers have also been on the frontlines along with doctors, nurses, grocery store staff and other essential employees. Elder Care Coordinator Debra King, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, has been advocating for her elderly clients and their families faced with long periods of isolation during the pandemic. Her efforts have helped ensure that clients continue to get the best care despite the difficult circumstances.
However, the social work profession faces challenges. There is shortage of social workers in schools where they are needed to help young people cope with complicated issues such as trauma, poverty, the opioid addiction crisis, and the need for more resources to help students learn during the pandemic.
And although social workers play a critical role in our nation’s health care and mental health system, they could be better compensated for the work they do, according to a 2019 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
Social workers often are unsung heroes, but they play an essential role in helping people from all walks of life and backgrounds to live life to the fullest. During social work month, we hope you will learn more about this amazing profession, and say a kind word to the social workers in your lives.