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Child Welfare Technology Report


Daily, countless child welfare workers face critical life and death decisions and carry high case loads with limited supervision and support. Unfortunately, these factors often affect the safety, permanence and well-being of children, youth and families in addition to the recruitment and retention of qualified child welfare staff. Child welfare workers are often overburdened and work under intense pressure with limited resources. They are expected to conduct interviews and home visits, attend court hearings
and conduct various administrative tasks including but not limited to, entering data into state systems to processing paperwork to ensure that vendors (e.g., child care providers, foster parents, and therapists, etc.) receive timely payments. Child welfare workers currently have to serve more families with fewer resources. Fortunately, child welfare administrators across the country have begun to recognize that access to emerging information technology can boost the efficiency of overtaxed



Social workers have had a defined role in providing services to incarcerated individuals since the inception of the profession in 1904 (Roberts & Springer, 2007). Social work has since evolved as an essential component of the nation’s criminal justice system For the most part, social work practice as performed in the various criminal (and juvenile) justice systems in the United States is variously referred to as criminal justice social work, correctional social work, or forensic social work. The term criminal justice social work (CJSW) will be used throughout this discussion.

salary report

May 2010

As a service to its members and the profession, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) has developed and administered this comprehensive
salary survey of professional social workers in the United States.

Professional Development

This report highlights the professional development characteristics of the survey participants and explores the continuing education training content areas, the accessibility of continuing education activities, the importance of professional development in social work, and the extent of employers' support and contribution to the professional development of social workers.

Who Wants to be a Social Worker?
Career Influences and Timing

Some people decide at a very young age what they want to be “when they grow up.” Others don’t decide until much later, and still others make this decision more than once in their lifetimes. Many factors influence the career decisions of people including role models such as parents and teachers (Quimby & De Santis, 2006; Taylor, Harris & Taylor, 2004); race, culture, and gender (Boone, 2006; Ferry, 2006); a person’s assessment of his or her abilities, talents, and preferences (Kniveton, 2004); and even the amount of student debt associated with a career choice (Arvantes, 2007; Swarthout, 2006; Pew, 2006). People who choose to pursue a career in social work are also influenced by factors such as their personal and social change values (Biggerstaff, 2000) as well as opportunities for career advancement and professional status (Bowie & Hancock, 2000).

Social Workers at Work

The social work workplace has been the topic of various studies (Gibelman & Schervish, 1993, 1997; Gibelman, 2005; Smith, Whitaker & Weismiller, 2006; Whitaker, Weismiller & Clark, 2006). This report highlights the employment characteristics of the 2007 survey participants and explores the safety issues that they encounter in their work environments.

Stress At Work: How Do Social Workers Cope?

Social work professionals often face challenges or obstacles that may cause them to feel overwhelmed
and stressed. Notably, those providing direct services, particularly behavioral health and health care, may experience higher levels of stress as a result of their emotionally attenuating practice setting (Coyle, Edwards, Hannigan, Fothergill & Burnard, 2005; Fahy, 2007; Naturale, 2007; Ting, Saunders, Jacobson & Power, 2006). In response to the stress, and in order to maintain psychological and physiological homeostasis, social workers invoke different strategies to help them cope. In small amounts, stress can be helpful, providing a source of motivation—particularly in situations where one feels like “throwing in the towel” (Jaffe-Gill, Smith, Larson, and Segal, (2007). However, too much stress can be harmful and can threaten the professionals’ physical and mental health, and place them at risk for injury, behavioral and/or serious health-related problems over time.

In the Red: Social Workers and Educational Debt

During the past few years, media attention has increasingly focused on the growing burden facing college graduates as a result of debt accumulated from student loans and other educational costs. While the amount of educational debt is not confined to a particular segment of the student population, the implications are vastly different for those who choose careers, like social work, in which salaries tend to be lower. Social workers have been identified as one group of professionals especially burdened by educational debt (Asinof, 2006; Jones & Cohen, 2006; NASW, 2004).

Social Workers and Safety

This fact sheet explores some of the factors associated with social workers who face safety issues at work.

Overview of Survey Participants
pdf document

The 2004 benchmark national study of licensed social workers provided a wealth of information about social workers’ roles and work environments. The study also raised new questions about the social work workforce that required further exploration.

More Money— Less Money:
Factors Associated with the Highest and Lowest Social Work Salaries
- pdf document

Competitive and fair salaries are the first step to assuring that a competent social work workforce is going to be available to meet the needs of agencies and their clients in the coming decades. This report compares and contrasts characteristics of social workers at both ends of the pay continuum.

Parity Mental Health Benefits:  What is the Impact on Client Access to Services and on Systems of Care?

Millions of Americans with mental disorders do not have equal access to health insurance.  NASW has long supported the policy of mental health parity, in which both public and private insurance plans provide comparable coverage for mental health conditions as is provided for physical health conditions.  To better understand the impact of mental health parity on access to social work services and care management, the NASW Center for Workforce Studies conducted a survey to describe social workers’ experiences with Federal Employee Health Benefits Plans (FEHB).  This report highlights the findings from that survey.

If You're Right for the Job, It's the Best Job in the World : The National Association of Social Workers' Child Welfare Specialty Practice Section Members Describe their Experiences In Child Welfare (PDF 762KB) - Without question, child welfare systems are faced with daunting challenges as they endeavor to provide essential services that protect and advance the well-being of children. However, the findings from this survey provide a glimpse into significant differences between the professionally educated social worker with practice experience and the general child welfare workforce in those systems.

Practice Research Network III Report (PDF 208KB)- This report describes the results of a survey of National Association of Social Workers members conducted in 2004. The findings discussed in this report are from a third survey of the Practice Research Network (PRN III) project, which was funded by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT). The objectives of the research were to develop broad knowledge about the practices of social workers and more specific knowledge about social workers' involvement with substance abuse treatment and prevention. Specific areas of inquiry in the survey included demographics, professional education and qualifications, compensation and current employment status of the social work sample, and characteristics of clients served. The results of the 2004 survey are discussed, followed by a brief comparison of the results from 2000 and 2002. Finally, key findings and recommendations for areas of further inquiry are presented.