Introducing SocialWorkr, the Social Network for Social Workers

I am excited to announce my crowd funding project for SocialWorkr, a professional network for social workers. The goal of SocialWorkr is to create a dynamic and collaborative social media network for social workers where users can collaborate by sharing information, solving problems and mapping knowledge gaps.

As a licensed social worker and former technology analyst for over 20 years, I understand the need for social workers to share our expertise with others in order to help improve clients’ lives as well as advance the social work profession.

This project started as an idea when I was a student at New York University and worked as part of the social media team. I saw the power of social media but realized there was a missing ingredient to help make social workers more collaborative and efficient.

Currently, social workers do not have their own professional online presence. Many use services like Twitter, Facebook or even LinkedIn to connect with each other. Unfortunately, these networks are not suitable for true collaboration. They lack ways to communicate with groups outside of their own region or circle of colleagues and they are cumbersome to use for professional collaboration.

The goal of SocialWorkr is to solve these problems. The power of social work lies in connections and learning from others. I believe that SocialWorkr can provide this collaborative platform for social workers to come together. Too often, professional social workers operate in isolation or in silos within their own communities, agencies or areas of specialty. SocialWorkr aims to bridge this knowledge gap.

Members of SocialWorkr will be able to connect and collaborate across cities and regions, modalities, agencies and any other speciality topics. SocialWorkr users will ultimately be able create their own communities of information which will help them improve the lives of their clients.

SocialWorkr will have news, events, as well as the ability to friend, message and chat with others. Social workers will be encouraged to connect with colleagues, co-workers, classmates or just other social workers that share their interests. Users can also become content creators and contribute as bloggers, where they write about their experiences at their agencies, their internships, write reviews of events or conferences, or post impassioned blog posts about social justice or their field of practice.

However, the true power of SocialWorkr will be in all the various groups that are created. Groups will bring together people interested in topics like child welfare, homelessness, addiction, social justice, mental health, disability, veterans or LGBTQI, to name just a few examples. Groups can be even more granular by focusing on particular modalities (CBT or DBT), regions (Boston or Houston), alumni network (NYU or USC) or types of work (school counselors or community organizers). Imagine the power of social workers coming together to learn from each other, share resources, solve problems and help to make their clients lead better lives.

Of course, helping clients is the ultimate goal for social workers and they will be the ultimate beneficiaries of SocialWorkr. Users will be able to collect, publish and organize all kinds of referral information, events, community resources and best practices. After all, the NASW Code of Ethics states that social workers have an ethical responsibility to “aspire to contribute to the knowledge base of the profession” and promote “high standards of practice”. It’s time that social workers come together and use social networking and technology to help the profession and help improve outcomes for the vulnerable and oppressed populations that we serve.

If you believe in the future of a more connected social work profession and believe in improving the lives of clients everywhere, please consider backing this project at MedStartr. Thank you!

Social Work and Technology

Having spent much of my career in the tech world, I realized that the social work field has not embraced technology much. Some nonprofits and agencies are still using paper charts and files! Unfortunately, this puts agencies at a disadvantage. There is so much to gain from moving from paper to digital files, although, yes, there are risks and high costs. Adhering to HIPAA and keeping confidentiality are also major concerns to social workers of all kinds.

The most active tech social workers seem to work in policy or macro social work, perhaps because there are clear benefits to using social media to raise awareness and join the digital conversation around things like social justice or mental health.

I have even noticed that many social workers do not use social media, like Facebook or Twitter much. There are some tech-savvy social workers of course, who blog or even host their own podcasts. But for the most part, social workers are not well represented online.

I’ve been using Twitter for many years and have started following some really great social workers. (I will highlight some tech-savvy social workers in future posts.)

Aside from social media, I also keep up with online publications on Twitter and Facebook such as The New Social WorkerSocial Work Today and Social Work Helper.

What about other types of technology for social work? How are social workers using tech for work?

For a future post, I am starting to collect a list of social work podcasters too. Please send anything to me via the contact page or tweet me.