Top Social Justice Issues Facing Social Workers Today

According to a recent study by the University of New England, the students of the Masters of Social Work program discovered there were five key issues facing social workers at the moment.

We will take a deeper look at each of the five issues, while examining some staggering statistics, discovering local resources, and discussing other important information about the topic.

Top Five Issues Facing Social Workers:

  • Homelessness

    There continues to be a gap between the earning wages and the cost of housing, which is one of the greatest risk factors to the increase in the number of people who experience homelessness at some point in their life.  There are several social and physical impacts that can lead to homelessness as well, such as alcoholism, drug addiction, or mental illness.

    In an article from the USA Today on October 21, 2013, titled “Colleges campuses see rise in homeless students”, the reporter finds that FAFSA data suggests that 58,000 students nationwide are homeless.  Some campuses like the University of Central Missouri are taking action and providing students with an on campus food pantry.  Students will have access to a variety of goods from food to diapers, and can visit several times throughout the week.

    Photo Source: Google Image Search

  • Social Services Funding

    With Government cuts to social service programs such as healthcare and food stamps, there are many families with children who go without.  Social workers are seeing an increase in the total number of clients they serve, as more people are now looking for assistance.

    According to, the average benefit per person receiving SNAP benefits is around $133.85 a month.  This would break down to $1.50 per person, per meal.  We spend nearly $5.00 a day on a cup of coffee, just so we can get going in the morning when some people are eating an entire meal for $1.50.  That really puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?

    snap food stamps

  • Poverty

    This is the issue that has been at the core of social work since its inception.  Poverty is more than just making a living wage.  The money you make must also cover childcare, healthcare, mental health, education expenses, and a variety of other regular bills families are faced with today. also reports that 45.3 million people (or 14.5 percent of the population) were living in poverty in 2013.  Over 30% of those people were children under the age of 18.  That means there were 14.7 million children going to school hungry every day during this time.  It is also worth noting that Missouri was one of eight states to report a statistically significantly higher number of food insecurities at 16.9%, when the US average was 14.6%. 

    american poverty

  • Educational Cuts

    While the education system is facing increased cuts and pressures from the government, students are struggling at home and at school.  At home, students may be experiencing tough issues like the unemployment of a parent, or even worse, substance abuse.  And at school, they may face intense bullying or struggle with a learning disability.  These daily conflicts can only add to the pressures the students face, as directly related to their level of success or failure.

    school bully

  • LGBT Youth

    The LGBT youth is one of the issues the social workers are most concerned with in today’s society.  Because they face bullying in school and possibly being disowned by their parents, LGBT teens can often be found in homeless shelters or juvenile facilities, or possibly still trying to stay closeted for fear of these situations.  This also leads to an increased concern for their mental health, as there has been a recent increase in the number of suicides by LGBT youth.   

    If you are looking for a way to help, you’re in luck!  October 13-October 17, 2014 is Ally Week.  You can check out this link for more information, and don’t forget to tweet using #AllyWeek or #BetterAllies to let everyone know what you’re doing to support the LGBT youth, while working to be a better ally.

    Photo Source: Google Image Source

    We know this is a rather brief look at some very important topics, but when considering a career in social work, it is important to understand some of the key social justice issues you will face frequently. If you are a social worker, how do you overcome some of these issues?  Also, are there other topics you feel we should be focusing on as well?

Posted on October 11, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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