Social workers provide guidance and advocacy to some of the most vulnerable demographics in the United States. They serve as allies to those facing homelessness, poverty, unemployment and more. However, in recent years the demand for social workers has exceeded the number of social workers, placing the nation in a shortage of social workers. Keep reading for background on the shortage and how leaning on staffing companies like ATHENA, who can support their clients in need combat these vacancies.

Why This Social Worker Shortage is Happening

The social worker shortage garnered media attention last year as the deputy mayor for health and human services pinpointed staffing shortages as the reason for hindered efforts to help dozens of unhoused people living in DC’s largest encampment in McPherson Square. Although increased outreach and funding efforts were made, it was not enough to combat this deficit of workers.

This social worker shortage also generated a broader roadblock throughout emergency housing systems and caseworkers who typically had around 15 clients were shouldering more than 50. This is in part due to the licensing exam acting as another barrier for people trying to enter the field creating less and less licensed social workers. The test doesn’t reflect real world scenarios and can focus on theoretical frameworks instead.

There is also a racial and age factor at play, with 76% of white test-takers passing the exam on their first attempt, whereas the pass rates for test-takers of color fell to 63% and lower. Additionally, there is only a 66% pass rate for people over 50, showing another obstacle for people wanting to make a career change to social work.

For states that have dropped the exams as a requirement, social work staffing rose dramatically. D.C. is trying something similar with legislation aimed at funding graduate students to pursue their master’s degrees in social work at the University of the District of Columbia with the condition to dedicate at least two years to D.C. social work. Click here to read this Washington Post article to learn more about this all-expense paid opportunity that will hopefully make a real impact on the social worker shortage.

How ATHENA is Staffing Through Challenges

Throughout this social worker shortage, ATHENA has been successfully placing healthcare and social workers with a focus on Health and Human Services (HHS) expertise for years. Here at ATHENA we prioritize cultivating robust connections with our clients and we adopt tailored approaches for each of our clients who can work with a dedicated in-house staff member, ensuring personalized attention and service. This emphasis on client satisfaction distinguishes us from larger agencies. Our services provide help for a myriad of social work scenarios such as hospitals who need to fill vacancies or need help during heightened activity, or non-profits and clinics looking for staffing solutions. If you want to learn more visit our Behavioral Health page for information regarding social work assistance.
Due to our specialization in human services staffing, we possess a deep understanding of the intricacies involved in recruiting and hiring for these roles. If you want to learn more about our human services staffing, click here.

At ATHENA, we are dedicated to ensuring diversity in our hiring processes, taking proactive steps to attract candidates from various backgrounds. Diversity is one of our core values as we remain committed to serve both our clients and employees. Click here to learn more about workplace diversity at ATHENA. And if you are interested in learning more about our core values and how we strive to seamlessly fulfill the staffing needs of both our clients and employees, click here.

Contact Us Today

If you are needing help staffing social workers please contact us here. Our team understands the unique challenges and demands of the social work field and are dedicated to providing tailored staffing solutions to meet your specific needs. Whether you require temporary, permanent, or contract placements, we have the resources and expertise to find the right candidates for your organization.

And if you are looking for a position in social work, please check out our open positions page. By partnering with us, you gain access to a network of top employers and personalized support throughout the job search process. Explore our available positions today and take the next step towards advancing your career in social work.