Session: Pluralist Approaches to Social Work Research: Finding Synergy and Democratizing Knowledge across Multiple SSWR Special Interest Groups (Society for Social Work and Research 28th Annual Conference - Recentering & Democratizing Knowledge: The Next 30 Years of Social Work Science)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Eastern Standard Time Zone (EST).

SSWR 2024 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Marquis BR Salon 6, ML 2. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 11. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

230 Pluralist Approaches to Social Work Research: Finding Synergy and Democratizing Knowledge across Multiple SSWR Special Interest Groups

Saturday, January 13, 2024: 9:45 AM-11:15 AM
Marquis BR Salon 8, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Bridgette Davis, PhD, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Karen Hopkins, PhD, University of Maryland, Cheryl Hyde, PhD, Tempe University, Mary Ohmer, PhD, MSW, MPIA, University of Pittsburgh, Julia Henly, PhD, University of Chicago and Jodi Frey, PhD, University of Maryland at Baltimore
In serving communities, human service organizations and social workers face many problems, such as: How can communities organize to obtain the public and nonprofit resources that they see as essential to helping their neighborhoods thrive? How can we build an inclusive, representative, capable workforce in human service organizations to meet communities' evolving needs and desires? How can these organizations' managers retain and support workers to keep community and institutional knowledge and skill to meet long-term goals?

Many problems human service organizations and social workers face are complex and dynamic. The problems are complex because multiple components constitute these large problems, and fully understanding the interdependency of multifaceted aspects of the problem is unwieldy and nearly impossible. For instance, community demands for social work and human service have skyrocketed, particularly during and after the COVID pandemic. Meanwhile, attracting and retaining a diverse workforce for community and human service organizations have become increasingly difficult. Multiple internal and external factors contribute to these challenges, including an array of problems from scarcity of resources, worker burnout, administrative burdens for both clients and providers, lack of community voice in organizational governance and program development, lack of community infrastructure (housing, transportation, control of work hours, childcare, paid leave, and/or insurance benefits) to support ongoing consumer access and engagement, pressures to use evidence-based practices and rigorous program evaluation, and low state reimbursement rates. The interconnected and interdependent natures of these components make the problem dynamic. In other words, progressive policymaking in one area, like increases in provider reimbursement rates, often leads to little or slow change in the overall service ecosystem. We argue collaborative conversation across multiple social work research clusters will offer insight into the many dimensions of these complex and dynamic problems and help us identify innovative policy, management, organizing strategies that can be shared broadly to democratize both critical research and practice.

The proposed roundtable brings together thought leaders of three SSWR Special Interest Groups (SIGs): Organizations and Management, Communities and Neighborhoods, and Work and Work-Life Policies and Programs SIGs. These areas of expertise offer insights for cross-cluster engagement that, when put together, offer knowledge that can be mobilized to ask systems-level questions and design sustainable community-level solutions. Karen Hopkins from the Organizations and Management SIG brings experience and research on designing diverse and equitable pipelines for training social workers and retaining talent in our field. Cheryl Hyde and Mary Ohmer from the Communities and Neighborhoods SIGs provide insights into capacity-building and organizing for social equity and facilitating community ability for intervention. Julia Henly and Jodi Frey from the Work and Work-Life Policies and Programs SIG add expertise in removing administrative burdens, providing necessary support for human service providers and consumers, and shaping local labor policy that promotes fair scheduling, leave, and wage increases. This panel will engage in a rigorous discussion about the most critical challenges facing social work in meeting the needs and wants of communities to think through how we can begin leveraging the innovative scholarship from their subfields.

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