American social workers that changed the world

American social workers that changed the world

Social workers serve people, groups and communities by helping them address problems in their daily lives. After all, social work is a practice-based profession that promotes cohesion, development, social change and empowerment of individuals and communities.

In the United States, social work has been around for more than a century. This will only continue to grow as the world deals with the after-effects of the pandemic. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment of social workers is projected to grow to 9% from 2021 and 2031.

Throughout the years, there have been social workers that have had an indelible impact on society. From inequality and isolation to substance abuse and violence, these social workers have helped individuals survive through challenging times.

Outlined in this article are several American social workers that have brought healing and wholeness to those in need and made the world a better place as a result.

Jane Addams

Jane Addams was a pioneering American social worker that focused on issues concerning mothers, such as local public health and the needs of children.

She founded the Hull House, which is a progressive social settlement aimed at helping reduce poverty and providing social services to laborers and working-class immigrants. The Hull House provided kindergarten and daycare for children of working mothers. It also had an art gallery, music and art classes, an employment bureau and multiple libraries.

By its second year, the Hull House catered to more than 2,000 residents every week. It further expanded in 1900 by adding a meeting space for trade unions, a labor museum, a theater and a cooperative for working women, as well as a pool, a gym and a book bindery.

Mary Ellen Richmond

Born in the outskirts of Illinois, Mary Ellen Richmond is regarded as one of the mothers of professional social work along with Addams. She was one of the first social workers to campaign for the standardization and professionalization of social work.

Richmond is often credited for establishing the initial statement of principles for direct social work practice. A recognized author and speaker, Richmond spoke at the 1897 National Conference of Charities and Correction where she trained social workers and published her book titled Social Diagnosis.

Social Diagnosis is considered to be one of the first social workbooks to integrate scientific principles from history, psychiatry, psychology, medicine and law. A significant part of her work was dedicated to research in the field of social work. She uncovered effective ways of collecting data as well as interviewing methodologies, and methods for establishing contact and conducting conversations.

Jeannette Rankin

Known as the first woman to hold federal office in the United States, Jeannette Rankin was also recognized for her social work. At the age of 27, Rankin migrated to San Francisco to become a social worker. She was involved in the women’s suffrage movement. Her crowning achievement was helping organize the New York Women’s Suffrage Party. She also worked as a lobbyist for the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

In February 1911, Rankin became the first woman to speak at the Montana legislature, where she made her case for women’s suffrage. Rankin implemented a grassroots strategy that urged Montana to pass an amendment that granted women the right to vote in 1914.

How to get started as a social worker?

As you have read in the previous section, becoming a social worker can be a fulfilling and rewarding career.

Now, you might be wondering how you become a social worker. At minimum, you may need a bachelor’s or master’s degree to start. The journey to becoming a social worker is complex because it demands unique expertise and skills in addition to a required formal education. You can take an online MSW program in Kentucky to learn advanced field skills and techniques.

It should be noted that some states require applicants to graduate from a social work program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) if you wish to be licensed and practice your profession.

Change the world today

Changing the world does not necessarily mean taking a herculean step. It can be as simple as signing up to a master’s program in social work and getting out there and helping people.

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