#education #service #poor
Social Work Next: The Priorities
What would be the domestic target list of priorities for a social work foundation? I provide my own list for your critique. Add these priorities to the practice mandate of environmental practice, the opportunity areas of any current time or context, and the potential of small associations (1000-5000 members) as national connection nodes.
Every deserving social worker should have her education paid for. Deserving is a function of prior performance and consistent commitment. Loan forgiveness is a solid mechanism. Stipend programs are also a solid method. And, in case you are wondering, YES! we should extend free baccalaureate education to everyone regardless of discipline.
The next innovation is for associations to partner with schools and foundations to provide a system of scholarship and campus-community partnership at the undergraduate level. Example of this exist with a few foundations, but a convener to outline the key directions for the profession, collective impact indicators, and local imperatives is needed. Associations are uniquely equipped as a function of their chapter structure and typically small overhead structures–when compared to larger non-profits.
2. Centralized Continuing Education (CE)
The old model of dissemination through journal articles and conference attendance can (must) be updated. Conference proceedings can now be streamed live and recorded for future download. Journals can be innovated to provide multiple levels of peer review and more frequent publication. Coupled with competency-based education development techniques, this could provide a steady pool of content for training and continuing education.
Associations can take on this charge offering low cost training with some core content free as a membership benefit. With a content development or democratization model as opposed to a information guardian perspective, data and findings can be interpreted by multiple authors to be placed in various contexts or practice fields. Outcomes can be more readily shared and retested in connection with environmental factors, especially economics, health, politics, technology, and culture.
Financial Capability and Asset Building (FCAB), Health, Social Enterprise, and Technology must be emphasized in Social Work Education. At least convene conversations through conferences, workshops, and think tanks. In order for the profession to adequately respond to the needs and challenges of its clients, the workers are going I need a perspective that includes bio-psycho-social-spiritual assessment AND intervention that equips clients in economic, health, politics, culture, and technology solutions. Professors in schools of social work will need to learn beyond their comfort, and contextualize within ethical and evidence-based practice.
4. Systems Ownership
Social work impacts many systems, but financial stewards of those systems see Social Work as luxury to be cut. The profession needs to articulate the business case for social work as a centralized system. Similar to a regulator, accrediting body, or inspector, professionals would be licensed to evaluate system functioning. They would be placed within systems to consult on the system innovation and implement change at multiple systems levels.
5. Move Away From Serving
Move to equipping the poor, advocating for just systems, and producing policy. This is the service. Social workers must also be in that space where a young mother first lost her potential to open the business she now needs help to find or afford. We can no longer reside only at the point of need. We must train our clients to create, and gain our place at the point of empowerment.
Programs that augment and supplement education are natural fits. Beyond after school tutoring and emergency social services, this would involve training in financial capability, health, entrepreneurship, and wealth creation. The goal is to create a community of support for a community of self-sufficiency.
Our educational machine is focused squarely on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Some criticize this focus as myopic, but more important to SW Next is the fact that focus doesn’t have to mean exclusivity. In fact, there is an integral place for social sciences in STEM research.
One of the most important elements in the discussion is a look at social factors impacting persistence to graduation in STEM fields. Bright and otherwise capable students have trouble adapting the system of education to their comfort. The result is failure to complete. Social workers can make the difference in cultural adaptation.