Appreciating, Reckoning, and Moving Forward This Social Work Month

March 28, 2024

Guest Blog by Raquel Ibarra, ASW, PPS (Engagement Manager at NASW-CA)*


Since 1984, the White House and groups nationwide have recognized March as National Social Work Month. At the National Association of Social Workers-California Chapter (NASW-CA), we are privileged to serve thousands of social workers across the state to enhance the professional growth and development of our members, to create and maintain professional standards for social workers, and to advance sound social policies.


Social workers are guided by the NASW Code of Ethics, which includes the values of Service, Social Justice, Dignity and Worth of the Person, the Importance of Human Relationships, Integrity, and Competence. These six values are at the heart of our interactions and interventions and a baseline for how we seek to impact the lives of the individuals, families, and communities we serve.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the social work profession should expect an increase in demand of nearly 7% from 2022-2032, surpassing the average for all occupations and highlighting the importance of social workers. As of May 2022, California boasted over 85,000 social workers providing services across disciplines such as healthcare, higher education, K-12 education, mental health, and city and state government. Increasingly, we see social workers thriving in ‘non-traditional roles’ in sports, finance, and entrepreneurial ventures that reflect our diverse transferrable skills, carefully cultivated through years of specialized education and training.  


One of the many ways to acknowledge Social Work Month is to reflect on the work the profession has accomplished and the privileges we have been afforded by those who have allowed us to be of Service. To honor our value of Integrity and the Importance of Human Relationships, it is imperative that we also acknowledge the harm that our profession has caused so that we may move toward trauma-informed and healing-centered reparations. In October 2023, NASW-CA proudly endorsed the findings of the California Reparations Task Force’s report, which “sheds light on centuries of enslavement, torture, oppression, and denigration of African Americans and the many ways in which government and institutional systems have perpetuated racism through their policies and practice.” The work of reparations is ongoing and will require consistent self-reflection, vulnerability, and courage to prioritize our impact over our intentions.


Our Code of Ethics also requires each social worker to “...advocate changes in policy and legislation to improve social conditions and social justice.” To that end, NASW-CA is proud to have partnered with the California Alliance of Child and Family Services’ efforts to advocate for a one-time allocation of $8 million for the continuation of bridge funding for Foster Family Agencies and a further increase of 4.14% for FY 2024-25. The proposed 2024-2025 California state budget cuts will harm vulnerable foster youth who continue to experience disenfranchisement with a disproportionate amount of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color affected. We must recognize the importance of funding for foster youth initiatives to mitigate the gap between needs and services.  


Social Work Month reflects how far the profession has come and how far we have left to go. Our contributions are only as significant as the impact we have on those we seek to serve, and thanks to the continuous trust from individuals, families, communities, and organizations, we can continue to expand our reach as we seek to improve the human experience.  



Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook,Social Workers, at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm (visited March 16, 2024).

* Opinions in this guest post are those of the author and not of NASW-CA as an organization.

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