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Social worker shortage

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Everyone needs a superhero to help fight a life of pain and social workers have been deemed as those heroes.

From child neglect and abuse to mental health and disastrous events, social workers have a wide range of duties and have a huge social and economic impact on society. 

According to Sonia Gilkey, Director of the Social Work Program at Texas A&M University Kingsville said, "This is a profession that is well-designed to support the well being of society. So a range of issues would come into play when we talk about the social work professional and what they're prepared to do."

However, there's a problem...the U.S. is facing a shortage of social workers. It's a crisis in need of spotlight, but seems as if there is no light at the end of the tunnel. 

According to a recent report, there is 20 to 25 percent vacancy rate at agencies nationwide. Every social worker handles about 90 to 150 cases. 75 percent of agencies find it hard to recruit, but these numbers aren’t surprising because the shortage is feeding on itself.

"Part of the challenge is salaries and, um, compensation regarding the amount of work responsibility," Gilkey said.

A number of possible solutions have been offered including increased salaries, bonuses and scheduling flexibilities.

Gilkey said, "We know there is a huge need for social workers in South Texas, but unfortunately we just don't have enough qualified professionals."

At a university level, possible solutions include adding tuition reimbursement, expanding enrollments and offering  a new program.

This year, Texas A&M Kingsville has jumped aboard offering two programs with entry-level practice. The goal is to create a larger pool of superheros in coastal bend and beyond. 

"We're hoping to fill the gap. To be able to have more social workers available in the community through our programs," Gilkey said.

The goal is to create a larger pool of superheros in the Coastal Bend and beyond. 

If you want to be part of the change and learn more about the social work program at Texas A&M University Kingsville, visit the program's website here.

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