Social workers deserve a boost

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August 23, 2008 Baltimore Sun
I remember the response many years ago when I told an aunt I was entering social work school: “Why do you want to spend your life giving out ‘home relief’ checks” (“It’s time for the givers to receive,” Commentary, Aug. 19)?

Social work has come a long way from the days when social workers were almost solely identified with “welfare” and the distribution of “checks.”

These days, professionally trained (and licensed) social workers are common in social services as diverse as foster care, adoption, geriatric care, substance abuse and community mental health facilities.

And anyone who has ever dealt with the myriad complications associated with establishing support services for an elderly family member about to be released from an institution (hospital, nursing home, etc.), or a home-bound relative needing assistance, to name only a few scenarios, realizes the valuable role played by social work professionals.

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski’s Social Work Reinvestment Act, which seeks to keep the social work profession strong and vibrant, will benefit not only the profession but the millions of recipients of our services.

It deserves to be funded. Howard Altstein


The writer is a professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work.

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