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Division of Social Work

College of Health Sciences

University of Wyoming

Dept. 3632

1000 E. University Ave.

Laramie, WY 82071-2000

Phone: (307) 766-6112

Fax: (30) 766-6839

Email: sowkmail@uwyo.edu

UW Division of Social Work Logo

Division of Social Work

Did You Know: Facts about Social Work

The social work profession in America was established in late 19th century in response to the growing social and economic problems that were resulting from industrialization, immigration, and urbanization.

According to the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics: “The primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty.”

The social work profession differs from other mental health professions in its contention that a person’s environment plays a pivotal role in shaping that person’s life and behavior. Social workers call this “person-in-environment” perspective.

Social workers believe that everyone has the right and potential to lead a productive and fulfilling life.  Social workers believe in the importance of human relationships in civil society, and that each person has dignity and worth.

 

The National Association of Social Workers code of ethics is based on the six core values of the social work profession:

  • Service
  • Social justice.
  • Dignity and worth of the individual.
  • Importance and centrality of human relationships.
  • Integrity 
  • Competence

     

 

STATISTICAL FACTS

Every day the nation’s 650,000 social workers act as advocates, champions and leaders who make our society a better place to live.

Social Workers are the largest group of suppliers of mental health services in the United States and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is one of the largest employers of social workers holding advanced degrees.

By the early 2000s, social workers made up the largest percentage of professionals working in the mental health and family services fields.

The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics that the social work profession is expected to grow by 25 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. This is due to an increased need for health care, aging and social services. 54 percent of those jobs are estimated to be in healthcare and social assistance.

The National Association of Social Workers estimates that an additional 100,000 social workers will be needed by 2018. Social Work programs across the U.S. are struggling to graduate enough students to keep up with the growing need for social workers.

 

HISTORICAL FACTS

Due to the ineffective government response to growing social problems social work has its roots in urbanization, immigration, and industrialization.

The first social work training programs emerged in urban areas in early 20th century By 1919, there were 17 schools of social work.

Social workers were first called upon to treat social issues other than poverty when the Red Cross and Army requested that they treat returning WWI soldiers for “shell shock”. 2Following WWII, Social workers were again called upon to provide services for soldiers and families impacted by the war. Today, the VA employees.

The Great Depression revolutionized the role federal government played in social welfare. In reaction to the crisis, the Social Security Act of 1935 was passed, ushering in social welfare programs such as housing, social insurance, and child welfare.

Religious missionary Etta Wheeler worked with Henry Bergh, founder of the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, to create a nongovernmental society for the protection of children: The New York Society for the Prevention of cruelty to Children, the world’s first organization dedicated to the protection of children. 

Discover defining moments and people that all persons interested in Social Work should know about!

Misconceptions about the profession

Myth: Social workers are welfare workers

Social workers specialize in many areas including: public policy, academia, environmental activism, work in schools, work with children and families, the healthcare field, mental health, substance abuse, and hospice care.

 

Myth: Social workers want to take your kids away

Most social workers do not work in child welfare. Additionally, social workers believe in supporting families to keep them together.

 

Myth: A kind heart is all you need to be a successful social worker

Social workers have an ethical imperative to practice competently. Social workers are trained to provide a variety of services to clients including counseling services, assessments, crisis management, and resource referrals.

 

Myth: Social workers are volunteers and aren’t paid well

Social workers are not volunteers. They study and train for years before entering the workforce. A degree is required to become a social worker. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2010 the median salary for U.S. social workers was $42,480. The top 10 percent of earners made at or above $70,390.

 

Myth: A degree in sociology qualifies you to do social work

Sociology is the study of the structure and functioning of human society. A sociology degree does not qualify you to become a social worker. Social workers hold a bachelors or masters in social work. All states have a licensure and certification requirement for social workers. In Wyoming, clinical social workers are required to have 3,000 hours of post-grad supervised hours before they can apply for licensure and pass a national exam.

 

Myth: Social service employees, caseworkers and volunteers are “social workers.” 

A social worker is a trained professional who has a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or doctorate in social work. All states license or otherwise regulate social work practice. A social service employee, caseworker, or volunteer community worker is not a “social worker” unless he or she has a social work degree.

 

Myth: Social workers are pushy and have an agenda for their clients.

Social workers do not make decisions for clients. It is within the social workers code of ethics that they respect the “self-determination” of their clients (the right of their clients to make decisions for themselves).

Image of Social Worker interacting with a client.

Social Workers are licensed professionals who assist their communities with issues ranging from public policy, academia, environmental activism, work in schools, work with children and families, the healthcare field, mental health, substance abuse, and hospice care.


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Division of Social Work

College of Health Sciences

University of Wyoming

Dept. 3632

1000 E. University Ave.

Laramie, WY 82071-2000

Phone: (307) 766-6112

Fax: (30) 766-6839

Email: sowkmail@uwyo.edu

UW Division of Social Work Logo

1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
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