Prioritizing Safety: Legislation, Training Can Help Keep Social Workers Safe on the Job

Jun 10, 2024

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By Sue Coyle

In February, Lynn Stanley, LICSW, executive director of the NASW New Hampshire and Vermont chapters, testified before Vermont’s Senate Committee on Health and Welfare. Her testimony came nearly a year after a Vermont social worker—the second in eight years—was killed while on the job.

The state’s Department of Mental Health, in consultation with NASW-Vermont and numerous other organizations, is seeking to amend an established bill to create a work/study group to review the research around the safety of social service providers.

“We’ll be setting the table, bringing all of these people together,” says Stanley, to try to determine what can be done. “Is [the solution] around training? Is it around resources? Is it around technology? What are some of the things that could be done to improve safety?”

Increasingly, yet most commonly, after a fatality, social workers and the organizations that employ and support them are recognizing that personal safety, while important, is an often-overlooked issue. Social workers, whether in the community or office-based, face risks to their physical and emotional well-being. However, few are prepared with the tools and resources they need to remain safe.

Read the full story in the NASW Social Work Advocates magazine