By Angelo McClain, PhD, LICSW
The coronavirus pandemic has challenged the social work profession in countless ways. Our clients’ needs as well as our educational traditions, licensing systems and workplace expectations changed significantly in a few weeks. Despite the resulting uncertainty, we have adapted and responded well as a profession.
As we begin our third month in the U.S. coping with the ongoing demands of this global health and economic crisis, we can take full stock of all that social workers have done to ease pain and lift up communities despite the personal risks. Our stories bear witness to the power of hope, kindness and human dignity.
Over the last several weeks, I have had the pleasure of working with leaders at the Council on Social Work Education and the Association of Social Work Boards on our profession’s collective response to the pandemic. Together, we have written about and acted on a wide range of issues affecting all social workers.
CSWE moved quickly to accommodate creative field placement options for students and ASWB helped expedite license testing for social work graduates after facilities reopened. We continued to focus our workforce advocacy on three objectives: Respect. Reimbursement. Resources. By mobilizing social work practitioners through our powerful chapter networks, NASW achieved critical telehealth flexibilities in all states to increase access to essential mental health services.
While our three organizations often collaborate on special programs, the discussions I have had with Darla Spence Coffey at CSWE, and Mary Jo Monahan and Dwight Hymans at ASWB during the COVID-19 crisis have inspired me to think more broadly about our shared obligations to every social worker—from their first social work class through retirement.
Since March, our joint “Social Work Responds” statements have addressed issues such as ethics, safety, social justice, grief, loss and telesocialwork. You can find those articles on SocialWorkBlog.org and our COVID-19 webpage.
It is gratifying to know that despite our distinct functions, CSWE, ASWB and NASW are in this together and will continue to find ways to ensure that social workers at every stage in their career are supported, protected and celebrated.
Contact Angelo McClain at firstname.lastname@example.org