Breaking Barriers: Celebrating Social Work Month

Each March, the National Association of Social Workers seeks to bring recognition to the social work profession with Social Work Month.

Alabama's social workers break barriers every day. They help the elderly, individuals with disabilities, and individuals with transportation issues get the health care they need. They coordinate care and education and provide vital services in the areas of mental health and substance abuse. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, social workers helped staff testing and vaccine clinics and delivered medications.

Through the hard work and dedication of social workers, individuals, families and communities are empowered to thrive.

What is Social Work?

Social work is a profession that's hard to define because the duties it encompasses are so diverse. Social workers can be found in a variety of settings --- hospitals, schools, veteran centers, and the criminal justice system, just to name a few. They may work with individuals on personal crises like access to health care and food, or they may work on a systems level to improve access to services for all people in their city or state.

History of Social Work

Social work as a profession can be traced back as far as the late 1800s, when Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Star opened Hull-House in Chicago, Illinois, as a place for area immigrants to come and learn the skills necessary to thrive in American society. Its roots can also be found in the efforts of social work pioneers including Ida B. Wells, a renowned women's rights and anti-lynching advocate; Frances Perkins, the first female U.S. Labor Secretary and an advocate for workers' rights and benefits, such as minimum wage; and Whitney M. Young, Jr., who fought against employment discrimination.

Today, social work is one of the fastest-growing professions in the United States. It is estimated that the number of social workers in the U.S. will hit 800,000 by the end of this decade.

"Social Work Breaks Barriers"

The 2023 theme for Social Work Month celebrates the work of those who spend their career helping others receive essential care and services that might otherwise be unavailable. The National Association of Social Workers invites everyone to take this opportunity to learn more about the vital work social workers do each and every day.

Want to Be a Social Worker?

If you are interested in career opportunities in the field of social work with the Alabama Department of Public Health, please visit our Social Work Division for more information.