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What is the goal of the "Social Work Reinvestment Initiative"?
What was the initial investment into the profession of social work?
What evidence is there to prove the need to reinvest into the profession of social work at this time?
Who is involved with the Social Work Reinvestment Initiative?
What is the "Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act"?
What is the difference between the "Social Work Reinvestment Initiative" and the "Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act"?
What are NASW Chapters doing to support the Social Work Reinvestment Initiative?
What can you do to support the Social Work Reinvestment Initiative?

What is the goal of the "Social Work Reinvestment Initiative"?

The goal of the Social Work Reinvestment Initiative is to secure federal and state investments in professional social work to enhance societal well-being. It is time to recruit new social workers, retain current social workers, retrain experienced social workers and reinvest in the profession of social work.

What was the initial investment into the profession of social work?

Social work has a rich history providing lessons and a foundation for the current efforts. From the programs to address the difficult consequences of the Depression in the 1930's to the Civil Rights Movement and the War on Poverty in the 1960's, significant investments were made in the social work profession. The profession was recognized as necessary to solve the seemingly intractable social and economic issues of the times and federal agencies historically made substantial commitments to educate and train social workers. In recent decades such support has been limited, and now across many fields of practice there is a workforce crisis.

Retrospective Informs Reinvestment
A Time to Invest in Our Future
Experts Review Past to Shape Future

What evidence is there to prove the need to reinvest into the profession of social work at this time?

The following findings are just a brief glimpse into value of the social work profession and the need to recruit, retain, and retrain social workers:

Labor Force Trends

(1) Workforce
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that employment of social workers is expected to increase faster than the average (18 to 26 percent) for all occupations through 2014. The need is even greater for social workers in the area of aging. The National Association of Social Workers Center for Workforce Studies estimates that nine percent or 30,000 licensed social workers specialize in gerontology. By 2010, as more Baby Boomers reach the age of 65, the National Institute on Aging projects that 60,000 to 70,000 social workers will be needed.

(2) Compensation
Social work salaries are among the lowest for professionals in general and for those with Master's level educations in particular. A survey conducted by the John A. Hartford Foundation Inc. found that between 1992 and 1999 the annual rate of wage growth for degreed social workers was 0.8 percent. According to the National Association of Social Workers, Center for Workforce Studies, 60 percent of full-time social workers earn between $35,000 and $59,999 per year with 25% earning between $40,000 and $49,999 per year. Social workers who earn lower salaries are more likely to work in challenging agency environments and to serve more vulnerable clients. They are also more likely to leave the profession.

(3) Educational Debt
According to one study of the Council on Social Work Education, 68 percent of individuals surveyed who held a Master's Degree in Social Work (MSW) graduated with an average debt of $26,777. Additionally, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group states that 37 percent of public four-year graduates have too much debt to manage as a starting social worker. While social workers may be in positions that are personally fulfilling, due to their high loan debt and low income, many struggle financially.

(4) Social Work Safety
Social work is unquestionably a dangerous profession for many. According to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, 70 percent of case workers report that frontline staff in their agency had been victims of violence or had received threats of violence. Social workers are considerably safer when measures such as global positioning systems, self-defense training, and conflict prevention are implemented.

The Demand for Social Workers

(1) Aging/Gerontology
According to a study by the University of Michigan, approximately one in seven adults over the age of 70 have some form of dementia and 9.7 percent (or 2.4 million Americans) of those found with dementia, were also found to have Alzheimer's disease. Social workers in gerontology settings work with older adults, including those with dementia to support their physiological, psychological and social needs through mental health therapy, caregiver and family counseling, health education, program coordination, and case management. These professionals also assist the hundreds of thousands of older persons who are abused, neglected, frail and vulnerable. Between 2000 and 2004 there was a 19.7 percent increase in the total number of reports of elder and vulnerable adult abuse and neglect.

(2) Child Welfare
The Children's Defense Fund states that every 35 seconds a child is confirmed as abused or neglected. The U.S. Administration for Children and Families states that 513,000 children were in the U.S. foster care system in 2005. Most children in foster care are placed due to parental abuse or neglect. Research shows that professional social workers in child welfare agencies are more likely to find permanent homes for children who were in foster care for two or more years. Unfortunately, fewer than 40 percent of child welfare workers are professional social workers.

(3) Mental Health
The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimates that 26.2 percent of Americans aged 18 and older (one in four adults) experiences a diagnosable mental disorder. Additionally, one in five children and adolescents experience a mental health disorder. At least one in ten, or about six million young people, have a serious emotional disturbance. Social workers provide the majority of mental health counseling services in the United States, and are often the only providers in rural areas.

(4) Military/Veterans Affairs
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates that there are 23,977,000 veterans in the United States. Approximately 1.1 million active duty soldiers have been deployed to Iraq since 2001. Over 100,000 women have served in the Iraq War, compared with 7,000 in the Vietnam War. A once declining veteran population is now surging and is in dire need of mental health treatment to address issues such as post traumatic stress disorder, depression, drug and alcohol addiction, and suicide. Veterans make up 25 percent of homeless people in the United States, even though they comprise only 11 percent of the general population. Social workers working with veterans and their families provide case management, crisis intervention, mental health interventions, housing and financial counseling, high risk screening, and advocacy among other services. The VA employs over 5,000 professional social workers and is the single largest employer of social workers in the country. VA social workers also coordinate the Community Residential Care Program, the oldest and most cost-effective of VA's extended care programs.

(5) Health
According to the American Cancer Society, there were 1,399,790 new cases of cancer and 564,830 cancer deaths in 2006 alone. The incidence of cancer will increase dramatically as the population grows older. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that at the end of 2003 there were 1,039,000 to 1,285,000 people living with HIV or AIDS in the United States. In 2005, 1.2 million people received care from one of the nation's hospice providers. Health care and medical social workers practice in all of these areas and provide outreach for prevention, help individuals and their families adapt to their circumstances, provide grief counseling and act as a liaison between individuals and their medical team, helping patients make informed decisions about their care.

(6) Education
The National Center for Education Statistics states that in 2005 the national dropout rate for high school students totaled 9.4 percent. White students dropped out at a rate of 6 percent. African American students dropped out at a rate of 10.4 percent. Hispanic students dropped out at a rate of 22.4 percent. Some vulnerable communities have drop out rates of 50 percent or higher. Social workers in school settings help these students through early identification, prevention, intervention, counseling and support.

(7) Criminal Justice
According to the United States Department of Justice, every year more than 650,000 ex-offenders are released from federal and state prisons. Social workers employed in the corrections system address disproportionate minority incarceration rates, provide treatment for mental health problems and drug and alcohol addiction, and work within as well as outside of the prison to reduce recidivism and increase positive community reentry.

For additional workforce information, please visit the NASW Center for Workforce Studies at workforce.socialworkers.org

Who is involved with the Social Work Reinvestment Initiative?

The Action Network for Social Work Education and Research (ANSWER) Coalition is the Social Work Reinvestment Initiative Steering Committee. This Coalition is made up of members representing the Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors (BPD), Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education (GADE), Institute for the Advancement of Social Work Research (IASWR), National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work (NADD), National Association of Social Workers (NASW), and Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR).

The Action Network for Social Work Education and Research (ANSWER)

What is the "Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act"?

The Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act is the most comprehensive piece of federal legislation ever aimed at addressing the significant workforce challenges facing the profession of social work. The legislation was first introduced in the 110th Congress by Congressman and fellow social worker, Edolphus Towns (H.R. 5447) on February 14, 2008 and Senator Barbara Mikulski (S.2858) on World Social Work Day, April 15, 2008. The bill has been reintroduced in the 111th Congress and is composed of the following elements:

  • A Social Work Reinvestment Commission is established to provide a comprehensive analysis of current trends within the academic and professional social work communities. Specifically, the Commission will develop long-term recommendations and strategies to maximize the ability of America’s social workers to serve their clients with expertise and care. The recommendations will be presented to Congress and the Executive Branch.

    Areas of Focus: Fair market compensation, high social work educational debt, social work workforce trends, knowledge development, social work safety, and state level social work licensure (as it implicates social work service across state lines) and the impact these issues have on the areas of aging, child welfare, military and veterans affairs, mental and behavioral health and disability, criminal justice and correctional systems, and health and issues affecting women and families.
  • Reinvestment Demonstration Programs will prioritize activities in the areas of workplace improvements, research, education and training, and community based programs of excellence. These competitive demonstration grants will support efforts underway within both the private and public sectors, in the post doctoral research community, at our nation’s institutions of higher learning, and within community-based organizations already administering services to underserved client populations. This investment will be returned many times over both in support of ongoing efforts to establish effective social service solutions and in direct service to affected client populations.
    • Workplace Improvements: Four grants will be awarded to address high caseloads, fair market compensation, social work safety, supervision and working conditions
    • Research: 25 grants will be awarded to social workers for post doctoral research activity to further the knowledge base of effective social work interventions and to promote usable strategies to translate research into practice across diverse community setting and service systems. At least ten of these grants will be awarded to individuals employed by historically black colleges and universities or minority serving institutions.
    • Education and Training: 20 grants will be made available to institutions of higher education to support recruitment and education of social work students from high need and high demand areas at the Baccalaureate, Masters, and Doctoral levels as well as the development of faculty. At least four of these grants will be awarded to historically black colleges and universities or minority serving institutions.
    • Community Based Programs of Excellence: Six grants are made available to not for profit or public community based programs of excellence to further test and replicate effective social work interventions from the areas of aging, child welfare, military and veterans issues, mental and behavioral health and disability, criminal justice, and health.


Please visit NASW's Advocacy page at capwiz.com

What is the difference between the "Social Work Reinvestment Initiative" and the "Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act"?

The Social Work Reinvestment Initiative is the umbrella that encompasses all of the efforts to reinvest into the profession of social work. This includes the "Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act" but also includes additional federal legislation and 56 state level social work reinvestment plans. Please visit the NASW Advocacy Website at www.socialworkers.org/advocacy/ to stay up to date on relevant legislation!

What are NASW Chapters doing to support the Social Work Reinvestment Initiative?

The Chapters have each created and are implementing a Social Work Reinvestment Initiative plan which is applicable to their state or area. All of these plans are available on www.socialworkreinvestment.org. See below for web addresses.

What can you do to support the Social Work Reinvestment Initiative?

We encourage you to become an active supporter of all Social Work Reinvestment Initiative related federal legislation, as well as the "Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act." You may contact your state chapter to become active in SWRI efforts at the state level. Below you will see your chapter's website and reinvestment page.

Alaska
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Kentucky
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Ohio
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Alabama
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Louisiana
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Oklahoma
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Arkansas
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Massachusetts
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Oregon
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Arizona
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Maryland
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Pennsylvania
Chapter website
Reinvestment

California
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Maine
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Puerto Rico
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Colorado
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Michigan
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Rhode Island
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Connecticut
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Minnesota
Chapter website
Reinvestment

South Carolina
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Metro Washington DC
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Missouri
Chapter website
Reinvestment

South Dakota
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Delaware
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Mississippi
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Tennessee
Chapter website
Reinvestment

International
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Montana
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Texas
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Florida
Chapter website
Reinvestment

North Carolina
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Utah
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Georgia
Chapter website
Reinvestment

North Dakota
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Virginia
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Guam
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Nebraska
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Virgin Island
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Hawaii
Chapter website
Reinvestment

New Hampshire
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Vermont
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Iowa
Chapter website
Reinvestment

New Jersey
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Washington State
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Idaho
Chapter website
Reinvestment

New Mexico
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Wisconsin
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Illinois
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Nevada
Chapter website
Reinvestment

West Virginia
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Indiana
Chapter website
Reinvestment

New York State
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Wyoming
Chapter website
Reinvestment

Kansas
Chapter website
Reinvestment

New York City
Chapter website
Reinvestment


Whom can I contact with further questions?

Elizabeth Hoffler, Project Manager
Social Work Reinvestment Initiative
National Association of Social Workers
750 First Street, NE
Suite 750
Washington, DC 20001
P: (202) 408-8600 ext. 537
ehoffler@naswdc.org


 

www.socialworkers.org