Unleashing the Power of Social Work
Tuesday, March 7th, 2017 @ 9:47AM
The very idea of social work is powerful. That a profession can be built on the foundation of beneficence towards others in society, particularly those who are most vulnerable, makes ours a force for good in a world where greed, bigotry, and selfishness exist in no small quantity. Those who pursue careers in social work are not motivated by the possibility of lucrative gain although many social workers have rewarding and financially substantial jobs. Most, if not all, choose our profession because we have a desire to help others. That is why I believe the future of our society can be influenced significantly by the young people who continued to flock to the profession. These young social workers have a stake in the future and they are not willing to wait idly by to see what happens.
The future of the United States rests in the hands of millennials. The question is when will they exert their influence on the direction this country will take in the coming years? While they did not decide that Donald Trump should be the President of the United States, their actions and inactions certainly contributed to the results. Had they voted in larger numbers and not for a third-party candidate with no chance of winning, Hillary Clinton would be the occupant in the White House today. Too many millennials are disillusioned by a system they believe is corrupt but have not yet seized upon the belief that they have the power to change the system. I am betting on young social workers to be significant players in the job of educating and energizing this voting bloc in future elections.
Social workers have the power to effect change. Countless lives have been changed because of evidence-based interventions implemented by social workers with individuals, families, groups, and communities. We are the only profession whose core training is to prepare us to work holistically with people within the context of their environment. Our training is equally advantageous in the policy and political arenas. I believe young social workers can connect with other young people and help to motivate them to become more civically engaged.
I visited the Nancy A. Humphreys Institute for Political Social Work’s campaign school on Friday and Saturday and met many young social workers eager to run for elected office, participate in campaigns, and get involved politically. The institute’s director Tanya Rhodes Smith said that 100 people signed up for this year’s event—the largest attendance ever. She will be at CRISP’s 2017 Student Advocacy Day on the Hill Thursday to work with attendees interested in seeking political careers. More than 500 students have registered for our advocacy day activities. Ashley Biden, the executive director of the Delaware Center for Justice with a MSW degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice, will be the keynote speaker. She is the daughter of Dr. Jill Biden and former Vice President Joseph Biden.
About 50 students and recent grads applied to be members of the CRISP Leadership Team. Of those, 30 were chosen to be on the team and a dozen were chosen to be part of a senior group who are responsible for helping to organize the event. They are led by coordinators Amber Cole, MSW student at Florida International University and Bomaya Kamara, MSW student at the University of Maryland. Also, pitching in is our CRISP Fellow Timothy Klipp-Lockhart, MSW student at Howard University School of Social Work. Tim is completing his field placement requirements with CRISP. The rest of the team will be introduced during Thursday’s event. They plan to stay together and build the Leadership Team in succeeding years with an eye on preparing for the pivotal 2018 and 2020 elections.
Obviously, young social workers will not be able to do this work alone. They must depend on the advice and support from older social workers who have relevant experience and who have generated a body of knowledge they can draw on. Many deans, directors, and chairs of social work schools and departments have stepped up their efforts to put wind under the wings of these young people. Hats off to Patricia White and the Fund for Social Policy and Practice for her efforts to generate resources for this important work. Our American society will reap the benefits as we unleash the power of social work.