Defending Child Welfare
Reading NASW President James J. Kelly’s message about the burden held by the child welfare workforce (January News), I was moved. As a social worker, social work educator, researcher and lawyer, I have worked in and with the child welfare system in multiple roles. I agree with your call to arms; social workers need to work through individual and collective advocacy to defend the child welfare system and demand more resources. As you point out, unfortunately less than 40 percent of the child welfare workforce includes professional social workers (BSW or MSW holders), yet society at large attributes the failures of this system directly to the social work profession itself.
Research finds that professional social workers at the baccalaureate or master’s level employed in child welfare are better prepared for the realities of this practice, and as a result are more competent in their work and stay in these positions longer than other workers. We need to support the current movement in the child welfare field to increase professionalization in this critical area of practice, through the hiring of BSW graduates (like the Baccalaureate Child Welfare Education Program in New Jersey), and supporting child welfare workers in their pursuit of master’s degrees in social work.
Supporting this effort directly furthers the imperatives of the 2010 Social Work Congress. Having participated in the Social Work Congress as part of the Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors’ Emerging Scholars program, I welcome the opportunity to work with NASW on any endeavor that furthers these imperatives and supports the child welfare workforce.
I applaud NASW for highlighting this important issue in a prime spot.
Kathryn S. Krase, PhD, JD, MSW