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Strengthening the Social Work Workforce
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NASW-NYC is committed to carrying out programs and activities to strengthen the social work workforce in order to ensure that the profession is able to meet the needs of New York communities and to support the capacity of social workers in the delivery of quality services.

Seven Essential Reasons for Strengthening the Workforce

1.  Professional social workers must be available where there is need for their services, and they should especially be available where the need is greatest.

  • Lobbying for funding for expanding the New York State Social Worker Loan Forgiveness Program to address the need for social workers in critical shortage areas and to alleviate the large debt burden carried by professional social workers.

  • Advocacy to assure an adequate supply of licensed social workers (LMSW and LCSW) available across service delivery systems, including aging, child welfare, health care, homeless services, mental health, addictions, public schools, including access to social work education.

  • Seeking modifications in the licensing law (for example, in regulation or administration) if it is determined to be having an adverse affect on the supply of social workers, and educating practitioners and employers about the requirements of the law.

  • Advocating for funding to support increasing the supply of Latino and Asian Social Workers, and Social Workers of African Descent who are bi-lingual and bi-cultural and especially committed to serving their communities.

2.  The quality of social work services is directly related to the quality of working conditions.

  • Educate social work service providers (employers) about NASW-NYC’s recommendations to improve working conditions, which provide the environment for professional social work practice. Advocate for proactive planning and implementation.
  • Examine the availability of social work supervision in human service organizations and advocate for appropriate supervision where it is needed.
  • Advocate for government funders and regulators to set expectations for enhanced working conditions.
  • Oppose government policies and procedures, including through contracting and managed care, that reduce the quality of the social work work environment.

3.  Inadequate funding of and reimbursement for social work services undermines the capacity of the profession to render services where they are needed.

  • Identify deficiencies in funding and reimbursement for social work and advocate for appropriate remedies.
  • Advocate for appropriate salary levels for social workers commensurate with their level of education, cost of living, and value to the provision of services.
  • Advocate for direct reimbursement of social work services where that exists for other service providers but not for social work.

4.  Social workers and service providers need to be culturally competent, and this requires understanding the impact of structural and institutional racism and taking actions to ameliorate their effect on service provision.

  • NASW-NYC will strive to model what it means to become an anti-racist organization.
  • Practitioners will be encouraged to seek training to better understand institutional and structural racism
  • Service delivery organizations will be encouraged to engage in self assessments and planning; staff, executive and board training; develop antiracist policies and procedures; and become accountable to the communities they serve.
  • Advocate for equitable policies and programs that assure quality services for all communities in NYC.

5.  Social workers need to be in leadership in human services.

  • Highlight the crisis facing the human services community and the social work profession emerging as a result of the retirement of significant numbers of leaders who are themselves aging.
  • Encourage social workers to pursue careers that will lead to becoming leaders in human services, including in administration, advocacy, government, education, training, as well as direct and clinical practice.

6.  Professional development is vital to the delivery of services and must be supported.

  • Provide social workers opportunities for professional development through NASW-NYC’s continuing education program and participation in committees and task forces.
  • Encourage social work employers to support the professional development of social workers.
  • Given that all but two states require continuing education for licensed social workers, explore the advantages and disadvantages of mandatory continuing education requirements for licensed social workers in New York.

7.  The challenges for the social work profession is beyond the capacity of any one organization to address and requires all stakeholders to become partners in working to strengthen the workforce.

  • NASW-NYC’s own committees (program committees and NYC-PACE) and Chapter members
  • The New York State Chapter of NASW
  • Schools of social work in NYC: institutions, faculty and students.
  • Human service organizations in the public and non-profit sector as well as umbrella organizations that represent entire sectors of service providers.
  • Labor unions that represent social workers
  • Professional associations, academies, and societies in New York City that share NASW-NYC’s goals and objectives.
  • Communities that require and benefit from social work services.


Click here for a listing of articles on working conditions.

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