Social Work in the Public Eye (November 2012)

Linda KulikNASW member Linda Kulik has been elected to serve as the district president for the School Social Workers Association of Georgia-District 7, according to an article on Kulik, who is a resident of Chickamauga, Ga., previously worked in Northern Virginia schools as a social worker and has more than 25 years of experience in the field.

“I have participated in committee meetings at NASW, which resulted in the development of a NASW position statement on confidentiality in schools,” she said.

School social workers serve the system by supporting educators who work with students as they prepare to go to college and start their careers, the article says. They also help students achieve maximum results during their pre-college education by involving the family, community and school to address any issues that may keep a student from achieving his or her full potential.

District 7 covers school systems in northern Georgia. Kulik has been with Chickamauga City Schools since 2002.

New research shows that the 1996 federal welfare reform, while bringing some improvements to the nation’s poor, has made extremely poor people in America worse off, according to an article on

Marci YbarraNASW member Marci Ybarra, assistant professor at the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago, analyzed these changes and their potential outcomes in a study called “The Welfare Reforms of the 1990s and the Stratification of Material Well-being among Low-income Households with Children,” published in September in “Children and Youth Services Review.”

The article says the reforms greatly changed welfare (cash assistance) by requiring recipients to work and placing a cap on the aid that one can receive. In addition, social policies set in place in the 1990s raised the benefits of work for low-income families. As a result of these changes, millions of people — mainly single mothers — who previously received welfare joined the workforce.

At the same time, welfare has become more difficult to obtain for families at the very bottom who have more difficulty entering the workforce. “The Welfare Reforms of the 1990s” paper, written by Ybarra and a team of scholars, compares the material well-being trends of very poor families with incomes of $11,500 for a family of four in 2012 — or below 50 percent of the poverty level — with those of near-poor families with incomes between $23,051 and $34,500.

“This is the first study to use nationally representative survey data to compare the material hardships of deeply poor households with children to other low-income groups of lower-income households with children, before and after the 1990s welfare reforms,” Ybarra wrote.

Some of the findings include:

  • Among deeply poor households with children, 48 percent reported in 2005 they did not have enough money to cover most of their essential household expenses, compared with 45 percent in 1992 and 37 percent in 1995.
  • Among near-poor households with children, 30 percent reported in 2005 that they had difficulty meeting their household expenses, down from 37.9 percent in 1992.
  • While the amount of public aid received by deeply poor households fell dramatically, it increased substantially for near-poor families, particularly through expansions of the Earned Income Tax Credit, a benefit that reduces income taxes for certain people with low or moderate wages
  • Even among deeply poor households, 41 percent of household heads were working in 2005. But this is well below the proportion for near-poor households, in which 88 percent of household heads work. This may be because household heads among the deeply poor were more likely to report a work-limiting disability.

This should “prompt policymakers to be more aware of the income diversity among the poor and the ways in which policy may increase stratification among the poor,” Ybarra said. “Social workers as well need to be aware of the variety of forms poverty takes so that supports they offer can be consistent with the needs of the clients they serve.”

Peter ManoleasNASW member Peter Manoleas received the 2012 Champions of Health Professions Diversity Award from the California Wellness Foundation, and was interviewed by the foundation.

The award recognizes people who have demonstrated a commitment to increasing California’s health care workforce and its diversity. Manoleas is a lecturer and a field social work consultant at the School of Social Welfare at the University of California, Berkeley, and has a private practice in Oakland, Calif. He serves on the board of directors for La Clinica de la Raza, which provides accessible health care for Alameda, Contra Costa and Solomeda counties in California.

“We’re all looking forward to health care reform,” Manoleas says in the interview on YouTube. “That has profound implications for the way everyone does their jobs, including nonmedical folks like social workers.”

Samantha SmithNASW student member Samantha Smith has been elected to serve on the NASW-Missouri Chapter board of directors, according to a news release on Avila University News online. Smith is a senior pursuing a BSW at Avila University in Kansas City, Mo. She also is a committee member of the NASW-Political Action for Candidate Endorsement.

Smith said she sees her position on the NASW-Missouri board as opening up opportunities in macro social work. She is serving as an ambassador for the NASW continuing education instruction program at her school, where professionals from all levels of social work come together to provide continuing education opportunities.

“By introducing guest speakers … I have been able to network with those in the social work community and practice my public speaking skills in front of peers,” Smith said, stating that the ambassador position is another advantage to her board appointment.

Smith says the values her parents taught her gave her a foundation for good social work. She decided to attend Avila to uphold a family tradition of sorts, following two aunts who graduated from the school and joining a cousin who is a fellow senior studying business administration.

“I always wanted to go to Avila as long as I can remember,” Smith says in the release. “… It’s more than lived up to my expectations. Avila has set up a foundation to provide me confidence, but also resources and networking opportunities. It’s just provided me many opportunities all around.”