Celebrating Social Work Month

By Assistant Chief Jack Austin Jr.
March 1, 2023

March is Social Work Month, and the 2023 theme is Social Work Breaks Barriers.

The theme “Social Work Breaks Barriers” resonates because social workers are on the frontlines helping our nation overcome a myriad of challenges.

More than 700,000 social workers nationwide, and right here in the Choctaw Nation, entered the profession because they have a strong desire to assist those in need and make our communities, our nation, and our world a better place for all.

For generations, social workers have broken barriers to help people live better lives and continue to do so by empowering people in tough situations.

From the creation of a minimum wage to a 40-hour workweek to the implementation of Social Security benefits, social workers’ barrier-breaking efforts helped transform millions of lives. Chances are, over the course of your lifetime, a social worker has helped you, a family member, or a friend.

These helping professionals work everywhere — hospitals, mental health care facilities, child welfare agencies, schools, veteran centers, and in local, state and federal government. I am proud to say the Choctaw Nation has many professional social workers available to tribal members for outreach, and I’m proud of the services our social work team does on behalf of the Nation.

For 2022, the Choctaw Nation’s Mental and Behavioral Health professionals have taken on 7,142 patients and visited 26,579 more. The Nation’s Healthy Aging professionals consist of three social workers, two of which hold a degree in social work. The Social Services team assessed 860 people, referred 803 to care, visited with 748 and transported 165 to get the care they needed.

Social workers were at the frontlines of the global COVID-19 pandemic. When most of us were quarantined at home, social workers were out in their communities—making sure children and at-risk youth were attending classes over Zoom, providing food and other resources to the elderly, helping those with substance-use disorder get the help they needed to stay sober, and helping tens of thousands of people stay connected to loved ones quarantined in nursing homes or hospitals.

They continue to break barriers by improving the delivery of health care and mental health care. The need for more social workers is reflected in data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which notes social work is one of the fastest-growing professions in the United States. An expected 800,000 social workers will join the profession by 2030.

And during Social Work Month and beyond, we urge you to learn more about the profession and what you can do to help assist them in their positive, life-affirming work. Visit socialworkmonth.org for more information. Yakoke to our Choctaw Nation Social Work team for the important work they do and the barriers they break every single day.