Homeless shelters, foster programs, soup kitchens and crisis intervention centers are all examples of social work in America. With roots in Europe pioneering charitable groups, social work in the United States continues to expand as a profession that addresses societal problems such as poverty, lack of education, substance abuse, injustice and discrimination.
Commemorated every March, National Social Work Month highlights the significant contributions that social workers make on behalf of all citizens, serving as champions for disadvantaged and vulnerable people in every U.S. community. The theme for the 2016 Social Work Month is “Social Work: Forging Solutions Out of Challenges.”
The United States has more than 600,000 social workers working with individuals, families, hospitals, nonprofit agencies, schools, universities, corporations and government offices to, as the National Association of Social Workers says, “mediate conflict, foster positive relationships and create hope and opportunity for people in need.” More than 40 percent of mental health volunteers trained by the Red Cross are social workers. The nation’s active duty military personnel, veterans and their families are served by more than 12,000 professional social workers in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Social workers provide a diverse range of services including:
- Healthcare and mental health services for senior citizens—assisting older adults and their families with improving older adults’ quality of life and independence for as long as possible.
- Disaster relief efforts—helping survivors obtain appropriate services and cope with anxiety and stress.
- Child protection and family services—working to secure safe, nurturing homes for adopted and foster children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned.
- Medical and public health support—serving individuals and families dealing with acute, chronic or terminal illnesses; advising patients and family caregivers in post-hospitalization care.
For more information, visit the National Association of Social Workers website, socialworkers.org, or call 202-408-8600.
What are ways you can recognize and honor social workers in your community?
An award-winning journalist who has documented stories in nearly 20 countries, Beth Lueders is an author, writer and speaker who frequently reports on diverse topics, including aging and health issues for both U.S. and international corporation