Grant enables state workforce assessment

Jul 26, 2012

By Paul R. Pace, News Staff

When it comes to assessing workforce trends, NASW and its chapters assist states and the Bureau of Labor Statistics in reviewing information for accuracy and providing essential feedback from social work stakeholders relating to workforce development efforts.

Thanks to a grant that is part of the Affordable Care Act’s workforce planning component, the NASW Idaho Chapter is working with the Idaho Department of Labor to properly assess the state’s social work workforce as part of its health care workforce research project.

The effort has the potential to boost the workforce by up to 25 percent in coming years, depending on the results.

NASW Idaho Chapter Executive Director Delmar Stone is serving on the project’s Health Care Workforce Planning Committee and is excited that the initiative is identifying health care workforce needs for the state’s residents.

“Because of this grant, we are able to do a lot of what is proposed in the federal Social Work Reinvestment Act at the state level,” said Stone. The Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act (H.R. 1106/S. 584) seeks to secure federal and state investments in professional social work to enhance societal well-being.

“I see this as a win-win for everybody,” Stone added. “It is a great thing that has happened for the profession.”

Cheryl Foster, a senior research analyst with the Idaho Department of Labor, said having professional associations such as NASW review data is a vital component to the overall effort.

“As researchers we do the best we can to acquire all the information we can about a profession, but it is no substitute for someone who is in the field,” she said. “We expect the Health Care Workforce Planning Committee to provide guidance into the issues that we are researching and to verify that our research results are grounded in reality.”

Foster said that while the Department of Labor publishes current employment, wages and employment projections data by standard occupation codes, there is a need for detailed information.

“So we turn to alternative sources such as licensure boards and professional associations,” she said.

Such input is helpful on several levels.

“For example, the standard occupation codes for social workers do not distinguish by education level,” Foster noted. “However, by using licensure information, we can count the number of licensed clinical social workers, which is much more useful to health care policy planners.

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