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Macro social work is a broad field that centers on the investigation of larger scale social problems, and the development and implementation of social interventions that aim to effect positive change at the community, state, and national levels.
Karamoko Andrews, LMSW, who works as a Public Health Social Work Consultant for New York City Human Resources Administration’s Department of Social Services, explained to Online how he provides guidance, support, and systems advising to staff members and contracted vendors of New York City’s We CARE program.
“[We CARE] assists individuals who are recipients of public assistance and may have a medical or mental health barrier to employment,” Mr. “As an onsite representative of We CARE Operations, I provide consultation to the contracted provider on service administration and delivery; which may include information systems related issues, policy interpretation and resolution of programmatic issues.
“[S]ome of the specific things we do to develop and implement law and policy reform strategies include identifying and researching systemic trends impacting our clients, conducting background literature reviews, investigating agency and placement procedures and conditions through record reviews, site visits and interviews with residents, monitoring compliance with settlements by reviewing records, following up with our staff to see how client services have improved or not, and meeting with providers to raise concerns,” Ms. Social work policy advocates and analysts can work at nonprofit organizations, including humans rights groups, think tanks, and pro-bono law firms.
They often are part of an interdisciplinary team, and can interact with other human services organizations to effect social and legislative change. Warner explained to Online MSWPrograms.com, “[My colleagues and I at The Legal Aid Society] also participate in many citywide initiatives and coalitions, provide internal and external trainings, developing testimony for city council hearings, and write letters to the governor.” Social workers who are community and human services specialists may work in government public health and/or human services departments, housing and relief aid agencies, and organizations that provide education, resource navigation, and other support services to veterans, immigrants, the homeless, people struggling with disabilities or addictions, and other vulnerable populations within the community.
Current and prospective macro social work students should keep in mind that position titles for macro social workers tend to vary and may be hard to categorize, as they are often not as concretely defined as clinical/micro social work roles.
For example, while a clinical social worker who works in a psychiatric setting will typically be called a psychiatric or clinical social worker, a macro social worker who designs and manages human services programs and initiatives might be called a human services specialist, community specialist, or program development specialist.
However, unlike micro social work (sometimes referred to as direct practice or clinical social work), macro social work does not focus on assessing and addressing people’s problems through one-on-one or even small group assessments, diagnosis, counseling, and treatment.
Instead, macro social workers typically help individuals indirectly through one or a combination of the following: Macro social workers can take on a wide variety of roles that involve some or all of the core tasks described above.
“What draws me into social work is that I feel it has a very applied piece to it,” Kevin Shafer, Ph D, who works as an Assistant Professor of Social Work at Brigham Young University, told Online MSWPrograms.com, “I feel that my studies might actually get applied in clinical or macro settings and might help people.” Dr.
Shafer believes that the field of social work research is distinct from other disciplines because of its practical significance and its adherence to the mission of improving the well-being of individuals and families within their communities.