This spring is flying by…or more accurately, driving by. I have been on the road more days than not since January 1. The first week of March was the annual conference for the National Association of Social Workers.
My colleague from Maine flew in–his second time to attend our conference since he worked Disaster Recovery with me and many other social workers from across the nation following Hurricane Katrina. One of the things I love about being a social worker–and there are many!–is the connection with like-minded people. Not every social worker wants to be one because of the core values that form the essence of the profession. Some who call themselves social workers do not believe in those core values, nor adhere to them, which is of course, a violation of the Code of Ethics. Sometimes, it is subtle, and other times, blatant. What I love about those who are my kindred spirit social workers is that we stand for something, and we will say so and take risks in order to serve–a core value of the profession.
Social workers’ primary goal is to help people in need and to address social problems.
Social workers elevate service to others above self-interest. Social workers draw on their knowledge, values, and skills to help people in need and to address social problems. Social workers are encouraged to volunteer some portion of their professional skills with no expectation of significant financial return (pro bono service). (Code of Ethics of the National Association of Social Workers)
While I waited for my friend, I thought about the devastation that hit these coastal cities in 2005, and the days we spent working in Biloxi, Ocean Springs, Gulfport, Waveland, Bay St. Louis, and Poplarville. We were assigned to the Department of Human Services Geriatric Outreach to assess the needs of older adults and link them to services and resources. As the only social worker from Mississippi there that week, I also had the only transportation–my little white pickup with the jump seat. I put 1,385 miles on that little truck that week–transporting social workers, delivering supplies, making home visits to those unable to get to the DRCs but reported in need by FEMA or MEMA staff in the field.
It pains me to see social workers not observing the ethical principals based on social work’s core values. It is a reminder that we still have much work to do in the world, and in our own profession. Who should be a social worker? The person who is educated in a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, passed the Association of Social Work Boards license examination for competency, and is licensed by the state in which the social worker practices. A social worker adheres to the core values of the profession:
- Social Justice
- Dignity and Worth of the Person
- Importance of Human Relationships