The election of 2016 proved that America wants change. We will vigorously debate exactly what change is needed and how best to accomplish it, but as social workers we know that part of that change includes social justice for all and the need for improvements in the human condition in our country. That is why we, the University of Maryland School of Social Work and its faculty, wish to remind our longstanding and newly elected officials of our commitment to helping you succeed in protecting the most vulnerable in our society and addressing the most critical social issues of our time.
The National Association of Social Workers’ Preamble in its Code of Ethics makes it clear, “The primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well-being 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.” These are goals all Americans can, and fundamentally do, endorse.
As social workers, we value many things that most Americans embrace for the betterment of our country:
Social Justice: Social workers pursue social change, particularly with and on behalf of vulnerable and oppressed individuals and groups of people. Social workers’ social change efforts are focused primarily on issues of poverty, unemployment, discrimination, racism, and other forms of social injustice.
Diversity and the Dignity and Worth of All People: Social workers treat each person in a caring and respectful fashion, mindful of individual differences and cultural and ethnic, racial, and gender diversity. Social workers promote clients’ and constituents’ socially responsible self-determination.
Importance of Human Relationships: Social workers understand that relationships between and among people are an important vehicle for change.
Integrity: Social workers are continually aware of the profession’s mission, values, ethical principles, and ethical standards, and practice in a manner consistent with them.
While our expectations for the next four years vary widely, one thing is certain: the problems of society and in our communities, still need to be addressed more effectively. Clearly Americans do not want to live in a society with high levels of mental health problems, suicide, underemployment, opioid addiction, homelessness, and inequity, to name a few of our challenges. Our profession offers many skills to our nation and we seek to serve all in need.
We at the University of Maryland School of Social Work, our students, faculty, and 14,000 strong alumni stand willing and able to assist any and all who wish to ensure that our country offers great opportunities to all and for all.
Dean Richard Barth, Faculty Chair Karen Hopkins, and the Faculty and Staff