Top Social Justice Issues Facing Today’s Social Workers

We Asked, You Answered:

The University of New England asked our MSW online students and all other visitors to our Facebook page which social justice issues were presenting the greatest challenges to the profession. Here are the topics that were mentioned most frequently as a concern to today’s social workers:

Homelessness

The number of people living on the streets or in shelters continues to put pressure on the social safety net available for the nation’s homeless. Statistics from the National Alliance to End Homelessness show a less than one percent decline in overall homelessness in 2013. The number of homeless families continues to increase slightly as part of a disturbing trend that disquiets MSW students and experienced professionals alike.

LGBT Youth

From being bullied by their peers to being disowned by their parents, LGBT youth face issues of great concern to social workers. Many of these adolescents find themselves homeless, living in a shelter of perhaps within a juvenile justice facility. Some are in foster care, and others are still trying to stay closeted. MSW students who want to specialize in child welfare can do a great service to society by embracing the special needs of the LGBT community.

Social Services Funding

Government cuts to the most basic of services, such as food stamps and healthcare funding, are currently making hard times that much more difficult for millions upon millions of Americans. The impact on social services agencies is easy to see, with new clients looking for additional help. These challenges, however, are creating more opportunities for caring professionals to advocate on a local, state or federal level.

Poverty

Poverty has been one of the core causes of social workers since the advent of the profession. Today, in the Facebook era it is still a major driver of our work. What we’ve learned over decades of advocacy, research and service is that poverty is not just about money and a living wage. It’s also about affordable housing, childcare and healthcare, as well as mental health, education and host of other external factors.

Education Cuts

Many of today’s students are experiencing crisis-level situation in their home and school lives. Unemployment and substance abuse at home can cause daily strife, as can constant bullying or learning difficulties in the school environment. Budget cuts to school social work services are not just a matter of money; they can be a matter of success or failure.

 

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