Social Work Month in March spotlights the positive impact of social workers over generations. The theme for 2020 is “Social Workers: Generations Strong”.
The theme has various meanings. As we enter a new decade it is important to look back and honor the powerful, positive impact the social work profession has had on our society for generations. We also want to spotlight the life-affirming work that social workers from all generations — from the Greatest Generation to Generation Z — are doing.
The Social Work Month campaign will inform the public, policymakers and legislators about the way the nation’s more than 700,000 social workers each day meet people where they are and help them live to their fullest potential. It will also look at the way social workers from every generation – from the Silent Generation to Generation Z – are shaping our society for the better. For example, there are younger social workers making tremendous strides. They include author and activist Erin Merryn, 34, who is pushing states to pass laws to educate children on how to avoid sexual abuse. Then there are social workers who have worked for decades for the betterment of society and, in some cases, are still going strong. One is Ruth A. Brandwein, who received an NASW Lifetime Achievement Award for her work advocating for children, the homeless, women and people of color. Social workers have been doing their heroic work for generations. For example, social workers such as social reformer Jane Addams, former Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, and civil rights leaders Dorothy Height and Whitney Young have helped Americans secure voting rights, Social Security, unemployment insurance, and other programs. Social work is one of the fastest growing professions in the United States, with the number of people employed in social work to grow by 11 percent over the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Social work is a profession with expansive borders. You will find social workers everywhere in our society. In schools, in centers for veterans, in mental health and health care facilities, in corporations and in local, state and federal government to name a few. In fact, many people do not know social workers account for the largest group of mental health care providers in the United States or that the Veterans Administration is the largest employer of social workers with master’s degrees. Still, the profession faces challenges. There is a critical shortage of social workers in our nation’s schools, where the profession is needed to help young people deal with complex issues such as trauma, poverty and the impact of our nation’s opioid addiction crisis. 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.
Visit the NASW site for more information.