NASW chapters working to save social work jobs

May 23, 2012

By Rena Malai, News Staff

In parts of the U.S., a social work degree or license is not always a requirement for a social work job, meaning these positions can be filled by candidates without formal social work education or credentials. Some NASW chapters are working on behalf of their members to make sure social work positions are filled by social workers.

Stephen Karp, executive director of the NASW Connecticut Chapter, said current hiring practices can cause problems for those with social work degrees, because it hinders them from finding a relevant job in order to gain further training and education in the field. Also, clients benefit from receiving services from a trained professional, he said.

“There have been a tremendous number of studies performed that demonstrate that those with a social work degree in a social work job have better client outcomes than those without a social work degree working in the same job,” Karp said.

Currently, half of “social workers” in Connecticut do not hold a degree in social work, he added.

“The state of Connecticut has invested a lot of money in social work education and can reap the benefits of hiring those with the degree,” Karp said. “There are a lot of social work graduates in Connecticut. There’s no shortage of (professional) social workers to fill social work positions.”

Efforts are under way to change the specifications for social work jobs, he said.

“We are campaigning to change the job specifications for social work jobs so that a social work degree is a requirement in applying,” Karp said. “We have had support from the schools of social work in Connecticut and relatively good responses from the state. Changing the hiring preference would be a huge move forward.”

Chapter members recently met with Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to discuss further supporting a change in the hiring preference for social workers. A petition signed by 575 social work students calling on the state to hire more professional social workers was presented in the meeting with the governor, Karp said.

“We informed him that we are working with the state Medicaid office to have LCSWs in private practice be eligible providers under Medicaid for adults; we’d like him to support the funding of a new level of license for new MSW graduates; and we’d like BSWs and MSWs to be hired by giving preference in hiring to applicants with the degree,” he said.

In Kentucky, efforts to secure positions for degreed and licensed social work professionals have been ongoing.

From the May 2012 NASW News. NASW members click here for the full story.