5 Top Social Work Policy Issues

Policy Issues Facing Social Workers in 2018

  • Public Assistance Programs
  • Social Isolation
  • Food Deserts
  • Student Loan Forgiveness
  • Health Insurance Gap

Social work policy issues facing professionals working in this field in 2018 are important because those issues can change the way people do their jobs and the amount of help that they can offer. Social work college programs cover these subjects, but students can learn more about these issues before working in the field.

1. Public Assistance Programs

One policy issue facing social workers is the lack of public assistance programs now available. These programs usually take place at the community or local level and can include child care centers that base prices on the amount that parents make and food pantries that provide free food for those in need. Part of this relates to the people who grew to depend on those services while unemployed in the past, but it can also relate to the lack of funding those services get and to the people who use those services but do not need help.

2. Social Isolation

A growing problem facing millions of people today is something called social isolation. This occurs when individuals feel isolated from others because of where they live or how they act. Some people live in rural areas that do not offer opportunities for people to get to know their neighbors or to make new friends. Others spend so much time at home and online that they feel isolated from others. This problem affects social workers because it can cause people to develop mental conditions like depression and anxiety that can lead to them needing the help that social workers offer.

See: Top 25 Most Affordable Master's in Social Work (MSW) Degree Programs

3. Food Deserts

Social workers are also aware of a problem called food deserts. This refers to the lack of healthy and fresh foods available to those living in certain parts of the country. It is especially common in major cities like Chicago and New York City. Those cities are home to convenience stores and small shops that primarily offer packaged and canned goods. Locals have little to no access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Eating packaged foods increases the risk that those in the community may become obese and suffer from other health conditions related to their weight.

4. Student Loan Forgiveness

According to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), one social work policy that affects those in this field is the lack of student loan forgiveness options. These programs allow students to do things after they graduate and have their loans forgiven. The NASW found that there are few forgiveness programs open to those who want to study social work today. This makes it hard for students to study social work because they cannot afford to pay their loans back, which can result in a lack of qualified social workers in the future.

5. Health Insurance Gap

Policy issues can relate to the health insurance industry in America too. Though the Affordable Care Act made it easier for Americans to get health insurance, many find that they still cannot afford to get health insurance. Those who do may find that they cannot afford to get sick because their insurance covers so little. Social workers know that this can affect people in different ways and can eventually lead to less money and fewer programs available to help those in need.

The policies affecting social workers today can lead to food deserts forming and people who cannot afford to get sick. It's important that those who hope to study this field learn about the top social work policy issues for 2018.