Grading the Social Work Profession

How would you grade the social work profession in fulfilling its mission? It is useful to step back periodically to do a little self-examination to measure the progress we are making in fulfilling our purpose and achieving our goals. The late New York City Mayor Ed Koch would do this occasionally by stopping passersby on the street and asking: “How am I doing?” We as members of a unique and quite noble profession should be interested in how well we are making progress. Unlike other professions, social work and therefore social workers are committed to a broad range of objectives that define who we are. The first paragraph of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) preamble spells out the mission of the social work profession:

The primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well­being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty. A historic and defining feature of social work is the profession’s focus on individual well­being in a social context and the well­being of society. Fundamental to social work is attention to the environmental forces that create, contribute to, and address problems in living.  …

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