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What Is the Social Work Reinvestment Act?

Explore how the bill aims to tackle challenges in the profession—and discover how an MSW degree can prepare you to meet the increased demand for social workers.

Social workers have important jobs that are essential to healthy communities. And as societal issues like discrimination, healthcare access, poverty, and substance abuse become more complex and widespread, the demand for their services continues to grow.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs for social workers is projected to climb 13% by 2029,1 much faster than the average for all occupations. Over the next 10 years, there will be increasing career opportunities for social workers in schools, medical and clinical environments, social service agencies, and other settings.

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The job outlook for social workers is promising. But many leaders in the field are concerned to some degree that there will be a shortage of social workers who are prepared to meet this increased demand. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) states:

The social work profession faces substantial challenges in meeting this increased demand for services. Serious safety concerns, high caseloads, difficult working conditions, significant educational debt, and comparatively insufficient salaries all pose as barriers to recruitment and retention of social workers. Replacing retiring social workers presents another challenge for the profession.2

Leaders in the profession are asking: How do we address these challenges? And what specifically do we need to do to ensure a strong workforce of social workers who are qualified to meet the growing need for social services?

Improving the Social Work Profession, Workforce, and Practice

To address challenges in the profession and build a stronger workforce, social workers put forward the Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act—the Social Work Reinvestment Act, for short.

This legislation, which is currently with the U.S. Congress, aims to form a special commission that will examine issues facing the social work profession and practice across the nation. The bill is also designed to create a robust social worker workforce through funding of different types of initiatives in four key areas:3

  • Workplace Improvement: Improve working conditions and raise social worker salaries. Today, a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) makes on average around $71,000 per year.4
  • Research: Fund research and discovery that can be used directly to improve the practice of social work across diverse communities and systems.
  • Education and Career Training: Provide grants for colleges and universities to support the recruitment and higher education of social work students at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree levels.
  • Community-Based Programs of Excellence: Establish community-based programs of excellence to test and replicate effective social work interventions and best practices.

Although the bill is still in the early stages of the legislative process, the NASW says it “creates the foundation to ensure that millions of individuals and families throughout the nation can continue to receive high-quality social work services.”2

Meet the Demand for Social Workers: Earn Your MSW Degree Online

The Social Work Reinvestment Act recognizes that social workers are vital in tackling the complicated challenges facing the nation today. If you want to be part of the changing future of the profession, then a career as a social worker could be a great choice for you.

If you’re wondering how to become a social worker, getting a college education in the field is usually a good place to start for most social worker jobs. You will likely need at least a bachelor’s degree to enter the social work profession. In most states, however, you’ll also need to earn a master’s degree if you want to practice as a licensed clinical social worker.

When searching for college social work degree programs, be sure to find a master’s in social work program that has CSWE accreditation. One such choice is the online Master of Social Work (MSW) program in the Barbara Solomon School of Social Work at Walden University.

Through Walden’s online learning platform, you can take all of your classes from the comfort of your home and earn an MSW degree from anywhere. The online MSW program is a great option for busy working adults who want to earn a social worker degree while fulfilling job and life commitments.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


1Source: www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm#tab-6
2Source: www.socialworkers.org/Advocacy/Policy-Issues/Social-Work-Reinvestment-Act
3Source: http://socialworkreinvestment.org/SWRI/default.html 4Source: www.salary.com/research/salary/benchmark/licensed-clinical-social-worker-salary

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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