AmeriCorps and Social Work

Check out my new article published today in the fall issue of the New Social Worker Magazine! Thinking about AmeriCorps as a way to social work and want to talk first hand with some one who has done it? Contact me -would love to connect!

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Read full article below:

AmeriCorps as a Path to Social Work

Don’t Wait For Leaders

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.”

― Mother Teresa

I’ve been thinking about this quote a lot, especially in the last six months. As persons witnessing first hand everyday how environments and system intersect in harmful and tragic ways in the lives of those who lack the protective factors to resist their impacts, social workers are in a unique position in society.

We have vowed not forget those experiencing poverty. As Dorothy Day said

“We must talk about poverty, because people insulated by their own comfort lose sight of it.”

-Dorothy Day

And still I find that I fall into my own insulated comforts again and again. So this quote holds a sting for me. However, this is not a guilt trip…far from it.

It is meant as an encouragement to you social worker. To you who will muster the creativity, partnership, alliances, good will, and imagination of your agency/community/and each individual that may fall to your caseload– to act. I will be there, in my own community, taking action with you.

There is no one to wait for. It is you.

Mandy

Best Practices Brainstorm

Calling all Case Managers, Program Managers, former program participants, or any other persons who have been involved with a Permanent Supportive Housing Program!

I am seeking feedback on the challenges faced and best practice strategies that have been faced and utilized by persons who have been involved with operating long-term supportive housing programs for chronically homeless persons. I currently manage such a program and could always use new ideas. It is a tough program to run, but success is possible! Maybe you are also working in such a program and feel you need support or ideas-let me know your challenges!

Write me a comment or let me know your thoughts through my contact page!

Thanks all!

Mandy

 

 

Political Social Work: Measure 105

There has been much back and forth in recent days in the US about the concept of sanctuary states or sanctuary cities. The most simple way to describe the concept of a sanctuary city/state is a city or state that has chosen not to use city or state law enforcement resources on those who have not committed a crime, but may be in violation of federal immigration law. Essentially, local and state resources are determined not to be used to enforce federal, civil, immigration law.

As many of my readers know, I practice social work in Oregon. Oregon is one of the oldest sanctuary states, passing the law to enact this status back in 1987. This November, Oregon’s status as a sanctuary state will be challenged by ballot measure 105.

Regardless of what one thinks about immigration law, this measure would have some deep implications for our everyday communities. This would include the fact that one could be stop, detained, or questioned just because they are thought to possibly be undocumented. That is what makes this political issue a social work issue at its heart.

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. A historic and defining feature of social work is the profession’s focus on individual well-being in a social context and the well-being of society. Fundamental to social work is attention to the environmental forces that create, contribute to, and address problems in living. – NASW Code of Ethics Preamble

In my mind, voting against measure 105 is a step to opposing an “environmental force” that will create “problems in living” for many community members here in Oregon. Therefore, this issue has become professional and I must do what I can to oppose it.

Thoughts? Disagreements? Drop me a line.

 

Want to support a group that is organizing against this measure? Check out the link below. Oregonians United Against Profiling

 

Mandy

Social Workers, Need Complex, and Professional Burnout – SocialWorker.com

Great article I came across at the New Social Worker website on a topic I think about and write about quite a bit.

How often do you find yourself thinking that you are “indispensable?” That if you take a weekend (an actually weekend) or a vacation (yes, an actual vacation), that you will be putting a burden on your coworkers or letting those who may seek your services down?

Don’t get me wrong, the work social workers do is absolutely vital to our communities, but does that mean you must stand alone before the needs that seem at times to be infinite?

Check out what Elizabeth Clark has to say at the link below. I needed to read it. You might too.

There is one sign of burnout that often goes unnoticed and frequently is encouraged in subtle ways. This is what can be called the “need complex” — the feeling that you and your social work intervention are so needed that you must work more.

Source: Social Workers, Need Complex, and Professional Burnout – SocialWorker.com

Social Worker’s Companion in London!

Hi all- just a quick update that I am in London this week. First time visit for me and I am hoping to see some sights with social work history. Top of my list is Tonybee Hall, which inspired Jane Addams to start Hull House.

Any other suggestions of where I should visit?

Any local social workers that would like to meet up and share about social work in the UK?

If so- comment below!

Thanks all,

Mandy

Transformative Supervision: Book Review

When I became a supervisor in the social work field, I was the youngest one on my team. Being in this position, I reached out for resources wherever possible, including reading a lot of materials on social work supervision.

I think part of being a young supervisor is that I adopted a more collaborative versus authoritarian supervisory style, that took into account the perspective of all members on my team, who often had many more years experience than myself.

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I wanted to share a few pieces from one of the books that I found helpful as I navigated the new experience of providing supervision in the hopes that it will be useful to others who find themselves with similar feelings to what I described.

The first place to start is to evaluate and be self-aware of your leadership style. Do you know what style you tend towards?  If not, read on!

 

Authoritarian Leadership Style: magnifies the bigger picture and links individual’s work to this bigger picture.

Strengths: ” provides clear direction,” “mobilizes people towards a vision,” “provides clear feedback on what is and is not working.”

Challenges : ” can become overbearing” ” can be dismissed” when the leader is not able to get staff on board with the larger vision or if staff feel that the leader does not “have the knowledge or experience” to support the vision.

 

Affiliative Leadership Style: “people centered, empathic, creates harmony”

Strengths: Growth in  worker’s trust resulting in sharing ideas and innovation, “generates a sense of commitment and of belonging”

Challenges : ” can leave people directionless, tends to lack “enough feedback on poor performance.”

 

Democratic Leadership Style: “operates from principles of participation and collaboration”

Strengths: Can gain increased collaboration and create strong staff buy-in

Challenges : Can lead to “a sense of lack of direction and leadership” and more practically can lead to the “frustration of endless meetings.”

 

Coaching Leadership Style: “focuses on individual strengths and traits of workers and invests and grows these for the future”

Strengths: “able to have a high level of delegation” to workers through use of the support of frequent dialogue.

Challenges : The major drawback of this style is the time involved in making this style work.

Most of us feel most comfortable within one of these leadership styles. However, we are stronger and more versatile leaders when we can harness the strengths of each style within various situations and with various staff that may have different leadership needs.

Utilizing emotional intelligence will guide us towards which style is most appropriate for the tasks and persons we encounter as supervisors. For example, a supervisor who is able to blend authoritarian and affiliative leadership style are able to provide their staff with “clear vision and standards” while also showing a “caring and nurturing approach” that builds team committment.

How have you found a leadership style that has created a healthy, supported, and productive team? What experiences as a supervisor helped shape your leadership style? What supervisors have made an impact on you- what did they do to support your work? Write me your thoughts and I would love to share them in a future blog post! Write me below!