Social workers hold annual convention Profession trying to come to terms with changes in health care


Marking the profession's 99th year, social workers from all over the nation convened in Baltimore yesterday concerned about how new welfare laws and managed care will affect their future.

The convention, titled "Take Charge of Change," focuses on how the profession will fare in the 21st century amid economic pressures.

"Some social workers are losing their jobs because of cutbacks in government funding," said Beth Ledford of the National Association of Social Workers.

Ledford said that the conference was an excellent opportunity to network and "interpret the larger picture."

The end of entitlement programs in the welfare reform act signed into law last year was one change mentioned as having hurt social workers.

But the greatest change, according to several, is the trend toward managed care by health insurers.

"Managed care is here to stay, and we're asked to do more and more with less and less," said Carl A. Hammerschlag of the University of Arizona, who delivered the opening address yesterday.

Before his talk, Hammerschlag said he would pose the question, "How do we retain our heart and soul, who we are as healers, in a managed-care environment?" He added, "That's difficult to do in a managed-care environment, a bottom-line industry."

About 2,000 social workers are expected to attend the annual meeting, which continues todayand tomorrow at the Baltimore Convention Center, organizers said.

Among the 150 workshops offered yesterday was "Chat Room Psychotherapy," which discussed a code of ethics for offering online services. Another presented a University of Maryland study of fathers of academically successful African-American males.

Anxiety disorders and counseling for couples were topics of other workshops, all of which can be used as credits for renewing a social work license.

Tomorrow, a job fair will be held from 8: 30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The fair costs $20 and is open to the public.

Pub Date: 10/05/97

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