Title protection efforts pay off for chapters

By Rena Malai, News staff

NASW’s Connecticut Chapter has campaigned for more than 20 years for qualified social workers to fill the state’s social work jobs. The effort has paid off recently, as two state service agencies agreed to give hiring preference to social workers with a BSW or MSW degree.

The Connecticut Department of Children and Families and the Connecticut Department of Social Services both agreed to hire social workers with these degrees to fill social work positions at their agencies, as opposed to hiring applicants with degrees in other fields of study.

“We used classic social work community organizing methods, and approached this situation from many different angles to get this done,” said Christine Limone, director of political advocacy for NASW-Connecticut. “This is important for the vulnerable families of Connecticut. We made our case that child protective workers who are social workers have better outcomes.”

The chapter said DCF is the largest state agency to employ social workers. A little more than 28 percent of its approximately 1,500 social workers have actual social work degrees, while the remaining hold four-year degrees in other majors.

“Because they employ so many social workers in the state, we wanted to convince DCF that hiring candidates with a social work degree is the way to go,” said Stephen Karp, the chapter’s executive director.

After meetings and communications with NASW-Connecticut staff, DCF Commissioner Joette Katz officially stated in a letter  “… I am pleased to embrace your recommendation and have directed my Human Resource Management Department to put forward only those applicants who hold either a BSW or MSW degree.”

“This means moving forward, DCF will have a professional, competent workforce in place and it will be better for every at-risk family who is a recipient of DCF services,” Limone said.

Karp said DSS is the second-largest state agency in terms of hiring social workers. DSS confirmed recently that they have also agreed to “assert a preference for persons with BSW and MSW degrees on job postings for social worker positions at DSS.”

“This is another big success for us as it gets us close to de facto preference in hiring,” Karp said. DSS social workers work with families and adults of all ages, he said, and especially older adults. They mostly serve the moderate- to low-income populations in the state.

Through research, the Connecticut Chapter found that social workers with an MSW or BSW tend to stay in jobs longer and are more comfortable doing at-home visits. Also, child welfare workers do best with a social work degree, Karp said.

From the March 2013 NASW News. NASW members click here for the full story.

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