Covid-19 is still a hot topic in both the national and international media. The virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has caused widespread panic and has had a significant impact on the global economy. The number of confirmed cases fluctuates as one variant runs its course until another new variant appears. Countries are taking drastic measures to try to control the virus's spread and subsequent variants. Millions of people have died as a result of the virus, and many more have been infected. The pandemic has forced businesses to close, disrupted global supply chains, and caused global stock markets to plummet. Economists are concerned that the economic upheaval will continue indefinitely.
Turnover in child welfare case workers has reached troubling proportions. In any profession, an annual turnover rate around 10% is considered healthy. In child welfare social work, the most recent annual turnover rate was reported at exceeding 22% in some states. When we asked child welfare case workers that we communicate with on a regular basis what they think the problem is, the consensus was clear.
The focus of social work has shifted from providing immediate support as a safety net to the vulnerable to striving for a better long-term outcome for each client. In child and family services, the mission no longer ends at removing an endangered child from a dysfunctional household but now extends to how a Child Welfare Agency might help the child grow into a productive member of society. In other words, what will be the ultimate outcome for the child?
A case worker who has worked her entire career feeding the hungry in America recently told us:
"When I was a girl and hesitated to eat my spinach, my eagled-eyed mother would notice and say, ' What about all the starving children in China? Think of them and be grateful you have enough to eat. Finish your spinach.' Like so many other middle-class Americans, I believed hungry children lived in China, India, or Africa, not in America. I believed that until I went into social work at the largest food bank in Pennsylvania. That opened my eyes.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused social workers to take a closer look at their ingrained prejudices when dealing with the aged. Robert N. Butler coined the term “ageism" in 1969 to describe attitudes, practices, and policies that discriminate against older people. Ageism occurs when people face stereotypes, prejudice, or discrimination because of their age. The assumption that all older people are frail and helpless is a common, incorrect stereotype. Prejudice can consist of feelings such as “older people are unpleasant and difficult to deal with.” Discrimination is evident when older adults’ needs aren’t recognized and respected or when they’re treated less favorably than younger people. Social workers who work with the elderly are realizing that even in their minds age is “a category of difference” like race and gender, but unlike race and gender, age positions older adults as a homogenous group with similar needs.
(Excerpted from an article by Paul Moakley in Time Magazine, "Deaths Amoung America's Homeless Are Soaring in the Pandemic. A Photographer Captures a Community In Crisis")
Turning the calendar page to welcome a "new" year is an ancient time-keeping practice. Celebrating a "new" year is still the perfect opportunity to pause and take stock of life's evolving circumstances and prepare our minds and hearts for the task at hand.
Health care social workers who support medical professionals are reporting a dramatic increase in burnout in America's nursing community. They say that the rapidly escalating surge in COVID-19 infections across the U.S. has caused a shortage of nurses and other front-line staff in virus hot spots that can no longer keep up with the flood of unvaccinated patients and are losing workers to burnout.
On a recent call with a professor in the social work department at a large Eastern university, we asked him what he saw as the human race's most vexing social problem. His answer was fascinating and quite unexpected. Below find excerpts from that conversation.
The climate change debate has centered on global warming for the last 10 years. Because the science tends to be arcane and somewhat opaque, the debate has become clouded with opinion rather than fact. However, the impact of severe weather events cannot be ignored.