Higher Salaries a Primary Focus of Social Work Month 2024

By Paul R. Pace

empowering social workers logo

Each March, social workers and their supporters celebrate Social Work Month to promote the value of the profession and to focus on specific goals. The campaign for 2024 is “Empowering Social Workers: Inspiring Action, Leading Change.’’ A key part of the drive will include ways social workers can demand and achieve higher salaries.

It will include:

  • Guidance from influencers on areas of social work that pay well 
  • Profiles of successful social workers 
  • NASW’s efforts to improve social work salaries and secure better job opportunities for social workers. 

“We will also put a spotlight on salary findings from last year’s Ipsos public opinion survey,” said NASW Communications Director Greg Wright.

A Facebook Live forum is planned for March to discuss the social work pay issue and ideas about how to boost that pay, Wright noted. “We will be reaching out to chapters to identify state social work experts who may wish to take part,” he said. “We hope this event will pave the way for a larger, longer-term public education campaign to highlight how our 
society benefits when they empower the social work profession.” 

This is an ideal time to put more focus on improving social workers’ salaries, because the services that social workers provide are in higher demand, Wright said. Social work is identified as one of the fastest growing professions in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

In addition, Wright said:

  • Several states have identified a shortage of mental health services providers, including social workers. 
  • Metropolitan areas (such as Washington, D.C., New York City, Seattle, and San Francisco) with severe income inequality and lack of affordable housing have said they need more social workers to help people who are unhoused or to connect people experiencing housing insecurity to needed services. 
  • Social workers are needed as this nation grapples with an opioid addiction crisis and gun violence. Young people also need help from social workers, particularly in schools, to recover from the lingering educational and psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Our population is aging, and a recent study from the National Academies of Sciences says nursing homes should employ at least one social worker. NASW also is pushing for Medicare beneficiaries to have access to mental health services in skilled nursing facilities. 

SocialWorkMonth.org provides a tool kit, which includes a draft proclamation, social media guide, logos, draft press release and editorial, downloadable videos and merchandise.

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