The Global Impacts of Social Work
Political events and social policies shape people’s lives all over the globe. Broken systems and oppression can mean that marginalized and at-risk people are forgotten and underserved, especially in countries with high poverty rates. When these populations need an advocate, the person who steps in to help is often a social worker.
Social workers are professionals who work to help people cope with life’s difficulties. When many people think of social workers, they envision people who work in one-on-one settings with at-risk individuals. But social workers do more than work for change in individual settings. They can and often do dedicate themselves to work that creates change by uplifting entire communities.
Let’s look at some practical ways that social workers shape the world for the better.
How can a social worker help the world?
As the world becomes more connected, the demand for social workers continues to accelerate faster than other jobs. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that social worker job openings will increase by 9% in the next ten years.
Anyone with a career dedicated to helping others can have a positive impact on the world. A career in social work is unique because of the many forms this type of work can take. These global impacts of social work are felt on the individual and societal levels.
For example, a social worker who counsels displaced people can help a family with young children find stability through a refugee resettlement program in the US. A different social worker might have a career where they advocate for more support for refugees in the United States on a policy level. And a third social worker may be analyzing data on the geopolitical forces that displace those refugees in the first place, coming up with solutions so that fewer people experience displacement.
The International Federation of Social Workers has been vocal about its commitment to societal systems that benefit everyone. International social work degree programs focus on giving students skills to meet the practical aspects of this goal. Social workers who have this type of training are equipped to address the complexities of global issues like food scarcity, women’s rights, and generational poverty.
What are areas where social workers have an impact?
Social workers are committed to the rights of humans living all over the world. Here are some of the areas where social workers have a direct impact on society.
Human trafficking is the criminal practice of coercing an individual into labor, unpaid services, or sex acts. Estimates of how many people are affected differ widely, but this practice is prevalent worldwide.
Social work professionals can offer support to people who are at risk for human trafficking. They may identify those most at risk and connect them with resources. Some social workers may also advocate within the court system for those who have survived human trafficking. Youth services coordinators, case managers in the foster care system, and mental health counselors are just a few types of social workers who can help survivors and those at risk.;
Poverty can be the result of generations of scarcity and economic precarity. Extreme poverty is most common in places where populations are growing and a reliable infrastructure is not yet in place. Over 611 million people in the world live in extreme poverty, according to the World Poverty Clock.
Social workers can help individuals who are not able to meet their basic survival needs. They can also organize efforts on a community level that are likely to result in long-term benefits. Education access, particularly for women, can reduce poverty. Food access programs and programs that deliver free healthcare can also be spearheaded by a social worker.
Refugee and migrant support
The UN Refugee Agency estimates that there are more displaced people now than at any other time in history. There are 26.6 million refugees in the world and 4.4 million people seeking asylum in countries other than their own.
This is an example of how, even in their own countries, social workers have opportunities for global impact. Immigrant and refugee populations often need access to social services. If they don’t speak the native language of the country they are in, social workers can advocate helping these people with housing, employment, school enrollment, language classes, and much more. Family social workers, social workers in shelters, and community program directors are often in direct communication with this population.
As time goes on, people who have been displaced may wish to integrate into their new community. Social workers can be safe people to talk to about the difficulties specific to assimilation. Licensed clinical social workers may be who a migrant or refugee would want to speak with as they unpack any traumas related to their displacement.
Social workers play a key role in helping people of all ages receive an education. Social workers can work within school districts as mental health professionals as well as school social workers. In these roles, they can connect individuals to learning assistance as well as address circumstantial issues that may be getting in the way of a student achieving their potential.
Education is also an area where social workers can help shape policy. The National Association of Social Workers works with elected officials on a policy agenda that prioritizes what they believe are central issues for a healthy society. Social workers have banded together to highlight racial justice and child welfare, among other issues that overlap in the education sphere.
Support for First Nations communities
First Nations people are those who share ancestry with the oldest known inhabitants of a particular place. There are currently 476 million people all over the world who are members of First Nations communities, according to the UN. Historically, indigenous people have been marginalized and systematically oppressed.
Social workers sometimes work alongside indigenous people to assess their needs. Family social workers, outreach managers, and case workers can help within these communities. A social worker may coordinate between tribal courts, state courts, and individual families to help facilitate child protection and adoption of children who are members of First Nations communities.
What does the Keuka Online program offer?
If you’re excited about the idea of changing the world with the work that you do, you’ll find plenty of like-minded people at the Keuka Online MSW. It’s a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited program that aims to give students the skills they need to help individuals, as well as the entire global community.
The Keuka Online MSW is a part-time degree program. Through 9 fully-online semesters, you can earn your Master’s in Social Work and be prepared to effect powerful, positive change in your world. If you already have a Bachelor’s in Social Work, you can complete their program through the Advanced track for BSW holders in 5 semesters.
The Keuka Online program is steered by practicing clinicians currently licensed and working in the field. These faculty are dedicated to the promise of social work’s promise to make the world a better place. The program offers plenty of opportunities for hands-on learning as well as field placement assistance, so you’ll have all of the support you need to join the ranks of social work professionals who are making a real difference.
Learn more about Keuka’s Online MSW program by downloading the digital program guide.