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Opinion: More Social Workers Should Specialize in Child Welfare

Christine James-Brown, chief executive officer of the Child Welfare League of America, says more social work graduates should specialize in child welfare. She wrote about the issue in this column in Huffington Post.

Here is an excerpt:

“Currently, the public child welfare systems and agencies across the country are experiencing a severe workforce crisis. Given the expanding opportunities for professional social workers in a variety of practice areas, combined with the difficult and demanding challenges of working in child welfare, many social workers are leaving the child welfare field in record numbers and the new generation of college graduates are showing little interest in child welfare practice.”

Q: What can be done to encourage more social workers to specialize in child welfare?

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  1. I am just going to start with the obvious – better pay and a less stressful and disorganized work environment. I have worked in Child Welfare for almost 6 years now – but had to take two years off in the middle because it is such a high burnout job and everyone knows it. New social workers, straight out of school, are thrown into a highly chaotic and demanding job for which there is little reason to stay past getting their feet wet. As soon as they get some experience under their belt or acheive lincensure, they do not want to stay in a job that gets them little pay and even less respect. We need to change the Child Welfare System before we can expect high quality social workers to come in and stick around.

  2. Q: What can be done to encourage more social workers to specialize in child welfare?

    A: Lie to them and convince them that it’s all for a good cause. The ones who are stupid enough to believe it will stay on for the long haul. The ones who catch on get out as soon as they realize what they’re getting themselves into and join forces with people like me.

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