Know the difference

An AP article in the Daily Tidings on March 29 that referred to an analysis of Oregon DHS child welfare cases inaccurately identified child welfare staff as “social workers.” In fact, the actual report referred to their staff as “caseworkers,” which is more accurate (although some caseworkers may also be social workers).

It is important for the public to know the difference. Since 2011, any person who uses the title “social worker” must possess a degree in social work and be licensed by the State of Oregon. Oregon has four social work licenses: one at the bachelor degree level (RBSW) and three at the master’s degree level (LMSW, CSWA, LCSW).

Social work practice consists of the application of social work values, principles and techniques to helping people, communities and society solve social problems. It requires knowledge of human development and behavior; of social, economic and cultural institutions; and of the interaction of all these factors. As a retired child welfare social worker, I know the dedication of caseworkers employed by Oregon’s DHS. However, it is important that the public not be misled to believe that “caseworker” is synonymous with “social worker”; there is a big difference, both in educational preparation and accountability to licensing boards.

Gretchen Thiel, MSW