From Bernie Sanders breaking big on the national stage, to Leo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt becoming a voice for the voiceless, social cause and more importantly, social workers, are becoming a very big problem for our Republican friends. This article is about those who do the work because, quite simply, love doing it.
Social workers tackle everything from child abuse cases to advocating for social justice. In fact, the industry is rapidly expanding to include more factors than ever before. A specific emphasis is now being placed on social justice because many of the people who need the assistance of a social worker are negatively impacted by a diverse list of socioeconomic factors. On the plus side, this means that there are more opportunities in this field than ever before.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the social work industry will experience major growth between now and 2022. There will be approximately 114,100 new jobs added during this time period, and this will create a faster than average industrywide employment increase of 19 percent. When this total is added to the existing number of social workers, there are expected to be more than 721,000 people filling a social worker role within seven years. This growth in job opportunities makes this a prime time for people who are going back to school online to acquire a Master of Social Work.
In the past, social workers usually focused primarily on providing the necessary care to help their clients more effectively manage their everyday lives. However, the growing importance of social justice issues is easily seen on the news and in urban areas on a daily basis. The marginalized members of society need people with an understanding of the system to help them with topics ranging from filling out aid assistance paperwork to getting a fair trial for minor offenses.
San Francisco is one of the major areas where people are paving a path for future social work improvements. A prime example is the city’s commitment to enabling social workers to help the homeless in non-traditional ways. San Francisco’s main public library attracts an astounding 5,000 visitors per day, and it is estimated that 750 of them are homeless. Rather than continuing to turn a blind eye to the needs of these library patrons, the city created the first full-time, library-based social worker position in the country.
The benefits associated with San Francisco’s library program help highlight the importance of social workers. With just one professional social worker on staff, an estimated 950 people have received some much-needed assistance, and 150 of them are no longer homeless. The latest count puts the city’s homeless population at almost 6,700, but 14 percent of these individuals are now accessing social work services at just one library. With such a big success rate, it is highly likely that this program will be duplicated in other urban areas.
As a result of social workers, New York City is also experiencing a major reduction in the number of homeless people who are left exposed to dangerous situations. In the past, an estimated 1,000 homeless people turned to subway stations as a way to stay out of the elements. Social workers who have reached out to these individuals have been able to help almost 30 percent of them get into shelters and other housing solutions.
Not only does New York City’s outreach program help keep the homeless safer but it also reduces their risk of having negative interactions with law enforcement officials. As an added bonus, this cuts back the amount of time that the police and local court system spend on prosecuting people for simply being homeless, which makes it easier to allocate taxpayer dollars to activities that are actually criminal in nature.
Ultimately, the increasing focus on social justice is likely to help the field of social work continue to grow at an extremely fast rate. This is good news for people interested in a career as a social worker, and it also has the potential to boost the economy, along with reducing homelessness and other social justice issues.