Rep. Towns HR795 Letter: Low social work salaries, high stress

Nov 6, 2009

The Honorable Edolphus Towns
Date: 11/6/2009

Dear Colleague:

I wanted to call your attention to an article on highlighting the top 15 “stressful jobs that pay badly.” The number 1 job listed — social work. This article highlights one  of the key problems in recruiting and retaining qualified individuals who will “step in when others step aside.”

My bill, HR 795, the Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young Social Work Reinvestment Act, aims to solve this problem by establishing a commission to study the policies needed to recruit and retain qualified social workers in a time when they are needed the most. Social workers focus their practice on those who are most vulnerable in society. With the economic downturn, their caseloads are only increasing, while salaries and positions are being cut.

For more information, here is the article from

Social worker

Median pay: $43,200
% who say their job is stressful: 72%

Social workers step in when everyone else steps aside to help people and families in vulnerable situations. They provide patients with education and counseling, advise care givers and make referrals for other services. And with social workers in short supply and programs underfunded, few must juggle the work of many, while reaping little reward.

Just ask Heather Griffith, a social worker who works with children in intensive foster care in Boston: “You’re getting paid $12 an hour and kids are screaming at you, telling you that you are just in it for the money and you’re just like, really?”


Edolphus “Ed” Towns
Member of Congress

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