Social Work Month Puts Focus on Helping People Overcome Hurdles that Prevent Them from Thriving
The RPC is helping celebrate this year’s Social Work Month in March with the theme of “Social Work Breaks Barriers,” highlighting how social workers have enriched our society by empowering people to overcome hurdles that prevent them from living life to the fullest.
Social Work Month is a time to inform public, policymakers, and legislators about how social workers like those here at the RPC have always broken barriers when it comes to the services they provide in an array of sectors, including hospitals and mental health centers, federal, state and local government, schools, community centers, and social service agencies.
People become social workers because they have a strong desire to help others and make society a better place. Social work is one of the fastest growing professions in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). More than 700,000 professional social workers are hard at work nationwide, but that number is expected to rise to more than 800,000 by 2030.
Social work began more than a century ago. The profession can trace a large part of its origins to Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Star, who in 1889 opened Hull House in Chicago to provide social services to the area, which had a large immigrant population. Other social work pioneers included anti-lynching advocate and women’s rights activist Ida B. Wells, as well as George Edmund Haynes, a social worker who was co-founder of the National Urban League.
In the 1960s, past NASW President Whitney M. Young Jr., worked in collaboration with President Johnson and other leaders during the turbulent Civil Rights era to break down the barrier of employment discrimination so Black people could get access to better paying jobs.
Social workers have helped drive significant, positive changes in our nation. Frances Perkins, the first female Labor Secretary during the Great Depression, and others helped secure benefits we continue to see used today, such as the 40-hour work week, minimum wage, and Social Security benefits. Examples of social workers who are continuing to break barriers today include Caitlin Ryan at the Family Acceptance Project, who works to help families overcome cultural and faith hurdles that prevent them from embracing and supporting children who are LGBTQIA2S+; Suzin Bartley, former executive director at The Children’s Trust in Massachusetts, who helped strengthen families by helping them break through economic, psychological, and other barriers so they can provide better care for their children; and Kristina Whiton-O’Brien, director of partnerships at Vot-ER, an organization that helps remove obstacles that prevent people from exercising their right to vote.
“Each day, social workers break barriers in so many innovative ways that help millions of Americans live their best lives,” says Brandi Granse, the RPC’s Early Childhood Director. “Social workers also work in politics and in communities to improve living conditions for all. During Social Work Month we urge you to educate yourselves about this amazing profession, thank the social workers here at the RPC in our Community Services and Early Childhood Education divisions, and help support the profession.”