At a recent college career day, this troubling question was asked repeatedly; “What do social workers do?” The question was troubling because it came with the realization that most college age students have no clear idea what social workers do. They are, therefore, less inclined to pick social work as a career choice.
Our recent blog post on the repurposing of libraries in the United States inspired a robust response from social workers involved in education. Lisa Gevelber, Vice President of Grow with Google, wrote this:
Positive Tomorrows, an Oklahoma City non-profit, is opening a private school for homeless children that was designed by the kids themselves. That’s right. A private school for homeless (not privileged) children.
Remember taking film to the drugstore to get it developed? Or hustling over to Blockbuster on a Friday night to rent films for the weekend? How about “looking up” facts for your homework papers in the Encyclopedia Britannica? Or spending rainy Saturdays in the library writing your thesis?
Ahhh…the good old days. Whatever happened to books printed on paper and bound between covers with printer’s glue? The world has gone digital and library collections are gradually becoming obsolete. How long has it been since you visited a library?
It is a serious misperception to view social workers as low paid civil servants who push paper on behalf of the less fortunate and perhaps undeserving. Social workers occupy a unique position in our social fabric.
From the very outset, the history of social work is populated with empathetic leaders who, upon discovering profound human suffering, not only offered a helping hand but immediately set out to change the social conditions contributing to the suffering. Social work's earliest pioneers - Florence Kelley, Alice Hamilton, Julia Lathrop, Sophonisba Breckinridge, and Grace and Edith Abbott, among others—laid the foundation of the profession's social leadership role and, to this day, this inclination to activism sets social workers apart from other civil servants.
In recent years, homelessness in New York City has reached the highest levels since the Great Depression of the 1930s. In August 2018, there were 62,166 homeless people, including 15,189 homeless families with 22,511 homeless children, sleeping each night in the New York City municipal shelter system. The number of homeless New Yorkers sleeping each night in municipal shelters is now 79% higher than it was ten years ago, and families make up three-quarters of the homeless shelter population.
In the past twenty years, student debt has become a major social and political issue in our country. As government guaranteed student loans became more widely available, colleges began to raise their tuition rates to keep pace with the expansion boom that ready government financing created. More students required more professors and facilities to accommodate their needs, and colleges needed more money to pay for the growth. The result, of course, is that students borrowed more and more money to pay inflated tuition and fees and subsequently became burdened with overwhelming debt.
Those who work in nonprofit or government agencies deal with high levels of stress daily. It can affect both your job and your home life. Unfortunately, case manager stress relief is something that is rarely put into practice.
A friend of ours, Quinn Cooley has reached out with a great resource to share with our partners, clients and friends. Quinn works with universities and programs to help share their content and he came across a great infographic from the team at Maryville University that we wanted to share. We think this is a great educational resource for those who are ready to go back to school.