5th Annual Cuyahoga County Conference on Social Welfare:
Is Social Work Addressing Human Needs?
Friday, March 27, 2015
Cleveland State University Student Center
Social workers often ask ourselves: Are we really helping our clients and communities? The NASW Code of Ethics states, "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…" Gillian Brock, a needs-centered ethicist and author of Global Social Justice, recently asked, "What is it to enable someone to meet a need?" She contended that sometimes we should focus on a person’s capacities, sometimes on people’s opportunities, and sometimes on external structures and the environment. How are social workers and how is the social welfare system doing this, or have we failed so far to develop an effective approach to balance these multiple approaches?
Just over 100 years ago, W. E. B. DuBois reported that among African Americans in New York City, although a quarter earned a good living, half were barely making ends meet and another quarter were being "helped to fail." Just under fifty years ago, the 1969 Cleveland Mayor’s Commission on Welfare declared a crisis in the system of social welfare and concluded that only the right to jobs at an adequate wage could address the problem of poverty. In the decades since, have the inequality identified by DuBois and the crisis identified in 1969 been forgotten? Have we successfully addressed human need or has our approach to confronting poverty and oppression failed?
Thank You to the 2014 Sponsors
2015 Conference Organizers