Blog Post #2

Read and reflect on the “Grand Challenges for Social Work” and post a reflection to the course site about one or two of the challenges that resonate with you and your social work goals. How do you see social work research informing our understanding of this challenge and solutions?

Blog Post Rubric
Posts will be due by Friday of the same week they are assigned on Wednesday. You are expected to respond to your peers posts in a way that enhances our understanding of the subject. Please see the rubric below:

CriteriaFull Participation CreditPartial Credit
Blog PostsDiscussion prompts are answered fully and includes information from the readings, for example:
1. List 1-3 “social worker takeaways” you gained from the reading; or
2. Ask 2 questions you have connecting the reading to social work, or
3. List 1 interesting quote from the reading.
Discussion prompts are sparsely answered with no reference to the readings.
EngagementOver the course of semester, the student has responded to at least 3 other student’s posts. The posts are related to the course texts and discussion content.Over the course of the semester the student has responded to 1 or fewer student’s posts
Response QualityThe student’s responses thoughtfully build upon other’s perspectives and deepen the discussion. The responses include evidence from one of the below categories:
1. The readings
2. Social work practice (internship/work)
3. Professional and self-growth
The student’s responses do not thoughtfully build upon other’s perspectives, nor do they deepen the discussion. The responses do not include evidence from one of the below categories:
1. The readings
2. Social work practice (internship/work)
3. Professional and self-growth

39 thoughts on “Blog Post #2

  1. TS (she/her/hers)


    Two challenges that resonated with my social work goals are eliminating racism and ensuring healthy development for youth. As a youth developer, ensuring healthy development for youth is imperative in my program as I service Black and Brown youth with an array of abilities. If ensuring healthy development is a response to behavioral health issues and the altering lifelong effects it has on a youth, prevention is key in creating equitable opportunities for youth. The 7 Action Steps created by the Coalition for the Promotion of Behavioral Health (CPBH) outlines preventative steps that reduce harm to youth who experience inequities based on various social factors. These seven steps also resemble some of the best practices within my own program that seek to enhance the social quality of my Black and Brown youth. A great challenge in ensuring healthy development among youth is breaking systemic barriers that enable racist policies to affect youth. Working to actively dismantle racism in policies is a struggle in making sure the needs of all youth are met, especially those who face unequal opportunity.

    This transitions well to another challenge that resonated with me and my social work goals, and that is eliminating racism. Understanding the implications of racism and its effect on policies and mandates, Black and Brown youth often face discrimination within societal institutions due to racism embedded in the policies. Eliminating racism seeks to identify and address the many ways in which Black and Brown youth are disadvantaged from their white counterparts.

    Social work research can inform our understanding of these challenges by providing feasible problem-solving methods that build capacity amongst social workers and their communities they advocate for. Understanding that racism plays a huge part in how policies are created, social work research can create a direct link from theory to practice.

  2. Maya (she/her)

    The challenge that resonates with me most, and most directly connects to the social work practice that I would like to inhabit in my life and career is the challenge of eliminating racism. As someone who wants to work with communities, families, and individuals that are affected by the criminal justice, immigration, and child welfare systems in our country, it is vital to understand that the underlying “challenge” here is the racism that our country is rooted in and created upon. However, I think that the Grand Challenges for Social Work list has some other challenges that stand out to me as rungs on the ladder to get to this final goal.
    Our country punishes those who are most affected by poverty, mental health issues, and inequality by putting Black and Brown communities behind bars at a rate far faster than any other country in the world. I think that it is also important to note that “behind bars” here does not just refer to those who are in state and federal prisons currently but those in immigration detention centers, on parole, probation, ACS involvement, alternative high schools, and so on. There are myriad ways in which our country criminalizes people and puts them behind bars both figuratively and literally. For this reason, I gravitate towards the Grand Challenges for Social Work “promote smart decarceration” challenge. They write, “Our challenge is to develop a proactive, comprehensive, evidence-based ‘smart decarceration’ strategy that will dramatically reduce the number of people who are imprisoned and enable the nation to embrace a more effective and just approach to public safety” (Grand Challenges for Social Work, 2021). While, this language could be more aligned with the abolition movement, rather than the defund movement when it comes to incarceration and policing, this challenge definitely resonates most with my social work goals.
    The next challenge that aligns with my social work goals is “achieve equal opportunity and justice”. Racism and discrimination are not just central to our carceral state, but also to our country’s housing, child welfare, employment, and education systems just to name a few. Coupled with our need to put a halt to a criminal justice system that criminalizes Black and Brown people, is the need to put a stop to the inequality that pervades these other spaces in our society as well. It is important to remember that once someone is out of prison, or perhaps even if someone has never stepped foot in a prison, opportunities are limited to some based on racist systems and inter-personal discrimination and stereotypes. If we are going to “decarcerate” our society we need to ensure that all are able to succeed and are not silenced and stunted by discriminatory hiring practices, unjust housing programs, racist child welfare policies, limiting educational spaces, and so on. Social workers are needed in all of these spaces to support individuals in navigating these systems but also to create and push for policy that changes how these systems and programs function.
    Honestly, I am still in the process of figuring out how research fits in to my social work goals, but I will do my best to parse out my thoughts here. I think that in order for societal change to occur, social work research that includes those who are most affected is important in order to educate people on what is going on in our world. By listening to those who are most affected by injustice, hearing their stories directly, and organizing and presenting their words in a way that is accessible to the masses, more people will understand the problems that plague our world and will be more inclined to work to change them in their own lives, interpersonally and politically (voting). I think that I can most directly understand the use of research at this time in this form of education.

    Eliminate racism. (2021). Promote smart decarceration. (2021). Grand Challenges for Social Work. Retrieved September 12, 2021 from

    Promote smart decarceration. (2021). Grand Challenges for Social Work. Retrieved September 12, 2021 from

    Achieve equal opportunity and justice. Grand Challenges for Social Work. Retrieved September 12, 2021 from

    1. Elisa Beltrán (she/they)

      Your point on figuring out how research fits into your social work goals really resonated! As social workers, many of us encounter a severe lack of research that represents the lived-experiences of people who are most affected by injustice and try to navigate that through a more holistic approach. At my placement last year, an exorbitant amount of evidence-based data needed to be provided to maintain temporary funding and I think it was very telling of how research can be more exploitative than being an actual solution.

      1. Emma H. (she/her)

        I went to comment on how Maya mentioned how she was unsure how research fit into her social work goals, and you beat me to it, Elisa! I do want to echo that point though. I understand research is an essential tool to policy change, but do I picture my path to incorporate conducting research? Not likely.

        In my internship now, I was editing a soon-to-be released report that had statistics that heavily supported the campaign and two bills RAPP is pushing for. I can easily see how these stats will push legislators and others who might not otherwise support, to move towards supporting the campaign. I appreciate the work quantitative work is doing, but I do find myself more drawn to autoethnographic research like in Oswald Et. All, 2020.
        This is a long winded way of me emphasizing I see how both methods of research might be useful to the type of work I want to pursue, but likely the finished product, not conducting either method myself. But, who knows.

  3. Emily McMahon (she/her/hers)

    One challenge that aligns with my social work goals is eradicating social isolation. During my undergraduate studies, I interned with Serenity Hospice Care and witnessed the devastating effects of social isolation on the elderly population. Many clients who were considered “wards of the state” appeared to deteriorate both mentally and physically at a more rapid pace than the clients who experienced regular visitation from family and friends. The Grand Challenges for Social Work (2021) suggests that social workers must collaborate with an interdisciplinary team to reduce the risk of social isolation and stuntmen social ties across all populations.

    A qualitative, community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach towards social isolation can inform our understanding of this challenge and the recommended solutions. CBPR restructures the traditional relationship between the “expert” researcher and participant and challenges the positivist view of objective truth (Oswald et al., 2020; Ponterotto, 2005). Research itself on social isolation promotes relationship-building with communities and increases social ties. The researcher breaks down social barriers through equal partnership with vulnerable populations and provides an opportunity for their stories to be told. For example, a person held in solitary confinement may find solace in speaking with a researcher who has the authority to elevate their voice and concern their needs. They can work together to identify risk factors and work towards real policy change.

    Another challenge that resonates with me is ending homelessness. My first-year field placement was with the Homeless Services Training Resources System; I became frustrated with the bureaucratic nature of resource allocation and the separation of individuals experiencing homelessness from decision makers. The Grand Challenges for Social Work (2021) suggests that social workers utilize quantitative data to investigate risk factors and connect evidence-based interventions to housing assistance programs. A combination of qualitative and qualitative may satisfy both funder’s expectations of a traditional scientific approach while also elevating community voices and eliminating the stigma around housing instability and homelessness. Furthermore, CBPR and evaluative research can address programs ineffective programs. The Housing First model provides a successful example of a marriage between CBPR and evaluative research. Sam Tsemberis noticed that clients would repeatedly cycle in and out of psychiatric hospital wards. He worked collaboratively with these clients to address the systematic issues that prevented them from receiving housing and created a solution that focused on client’s needs (DeCarlo, 2018). Community-based research can empower clients and create transformative change by connecting the community with decision-makers.


    DeCarlo, M. (2018). Introduction to Research. Scientific Inquiry in Social Work (pp. 1-31). Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 License.

    Grand challenges for social work. Grand Challenges for Social Work. (2021, January 21). Retrieved September 13, 2021, from

    Oswald, A. G., Bussey, S., Thompson, M., & Ortega-Williams, A. (2020). Disrupting hegemony in social work doctoral education and research: Using autoethnography to uncover possibilities for radical transformation. Qualitative Social Work, 1–17.

    Ponterotto, J. G. (2005). Qualitative research in counseling psychology: A primer on research paradigms and philosophy of science. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 52(2), 126–136.

    1. Maya (she/her)

      Hi Emily!

      I was really interested in your focus on “eradicating social isolation” as one of your goals as a social worker. This is not something that I immediately think of as one of my goals, however it is an issue that infiltrates so much other work – work with teenagers, with people who are incarcerated, and so on. As someone who wants to work with youth affected by the criminal justice, child welfare, and immigration systems, I thank you for reminding me that different forms of social isolation will affect these youth at many points in their lives. Social isolation is, of course, all the more prevalent during the pandemic. Just as you said, I think that engaging folks who are affected by injustice in PAR can be used as a way of mitigating the affects of social isolation, and helping individuals and communities to feel like they are a part of something larger than themselves. I think that a good example of this was in the Oswald et al. (2020) study, which served as a good example of how researchers can use each other to feel that they themselves are taking action in their own lives and a part of a larger community and not as alone – in this case in an academic setting.

  4. Leigh Taylor (she/her)

    One of the “Grand Challenges for Social Work” that resonated the most with me and the work I would like to do within social work was “Promote smart decarceration”. As discussed within the grand challenge, the US has the largest prison population in the world, with comparable countries trailing behind our rate of incarceration. Our rate of incarceration becomes more shocking when broken down by race and class, with a large number of incarcerated folks identifying as Black or Brown, and coming from low-income communities. It is apparent that if social work seeks to address social justice issues – mass incarceration must be at the forefront of that agenda.

    I do believe that the grand challenges for social work could go farther, pushing for the complete abolition of prisons and jails. As stated, the current strategy is to “dramatically reduce the number of people who are imprisoned and enable the nation to embrace a more effective and just approach to public safety.” I would argue, that social workers must push beyond decarceration and work towards completely upending the prison industrial complex and the culture of surveillance and policing within the US. Even with decarceration, the US would still have a policing and legal system founded on tenets of white supremacy. We would still have a system that contributes to the harm and dehumanization of anyone within it’s reach.
    In order to truly challenge the system, social workers must lead and structure their work with abolition on the horizon.

    One way social work research can address this challenge and its solutions, is through the inclusion of formerly incarcerated folks and impacted family members within the research space. As discussed in “Disrupting Hegemony in social work doctoral education and research,” Oswald, Bussey, Thompson, and Ortega-Williams, identify the preponderance of quantitative research methods classes within social work PhD programs. Oswald, et. al, discuss the prioritization of empirical studies to justice-oriented practices that are rooted in narratives, community-building, and story-telling. The situating of quantitative methods as “genuine research” parallels the ideology around who is considered a researcher and who is not. Much of the leading social science research regarding mass incarceration is written through the academy, by individuals who have little lived-experience within the criminal legal system. This perpetuates a hierarchy of who has “expertise” within a field of knowledge. By including the perspectives of people who are formerly incarcerated, impacted family members, or community members, the field would come closer to understanding people’s genuine experiences of incarceration – hopefully pushing the field towards the understanding that abolition is the only way.

  5. Jean Franco Molina (He/him/his)

    One of the Grand Challenges of Social Work that really resonated with me was the challenge of ending homelessness. Throughout my social work education, I found myself being drawn to anti-gentrification and anti-displacement work, and a really crucial part of that work is also being anti-homelessness. Homelessness really is a policy choice; since it is such an outcome that is influenced by so many factors, fixing one thing makes a small, but noticeable impact. I’m thinking about this in terms of the pandemic, where homelessness can be caused by lack of employment, employment on low wages, high cost of living, artificially inflated prices… the list is truly endless.

    Something that I would definitely add onto the list of “Decade of Work” is more along the lines of the fourth point, “Promote policy change to address risk factors that increase likelihood of homelessness such as minimum wage, income disability benefits, and affordable housing.” Another policy that should absolutely change is how developers and corporate entities build and allocate housing. Under the 421-a tax abatement, all new developments in certain areas of New York City have to allocate at least at 20 percent of units as “affordable housing”, while the other 80 percent can be priced at market rate. This, like all facets of capitalism, sound good in theory. However, the rents for the 20 percent of apartments are all calculated using the Area Median Index. For an individual in 2021 New York City, the AMI is $81k. As someone from here and has lived here their whole life, I literally do not know anyone who makes that amount on their own (legally). The reality is that so much of the city lives so far below that line, that it is almost impossible to even apply for these units. We have the space to build, we have the labor, but we also have people who only care about profits. Go figure.

    Research wasn’t really my forte in undergrad, but a lot of the program at Hunter seems more focused on research, which I really appreciate, because it absolutely does have its uses. A study should absolutely be conducted to show how ridiculous the income requirements are in comparison to the reality of the city’s workers are. There could also be a study on how many New Yorkers are automatically excluded from the affordable housing market by not having a Social Security Number. There are so many ways that the city has gone completely wrong in its approach to affordable housing that can easily be reflected back onto them with qualitative research.

  6. Emma H. (she/her)

    In reading the “Grand Challenges for Social Work”, the challenge that resonated with me was Promote Smart Decarceration. I agree with the sentiment that decarceration requires policy changes that reduce the number of people incarcerated and address the disparities that implore incarceration (Epperson & Pettus-Davis, 2016). However, many of the recommendations proposed through the “Grand Challenges for Social Work” do not embody liberation practice and abolition. Meaning, they are still utilizing and working within the harmful systems that have implored mass incarceration.

    Firstly, the societal goal is to reduce the prison and jail population by 1 million people in the next decade (GC Fact Sheet No.9, 2016). This isn’t enough. Focusing only on decarceration fails to address the millions of others who are still under state surveillance through parole, probation, mandatory ATIs, etc. The solutions in Promote Smart Decarceration continue to promote these programs and state holds which continues to add power to carceral state. Secondly, the language in their initial proposal for the next decade of work includes: “use incarceration primarily for the incapacitation of the most dangerous,” (GC Fact Sheet No.9, 2016). This goal also continues to rely on prisons and jails as solutions which uphold their validity and actively harm people deemed as “most dangerous”. Also, what constitutes an individual to be “the most dangerous,”? Thirdly, the outlining of the necessity of all sectors of the legal system to be involved in the process of decarceration continues to uphold their legitimacy, instead of questioning their existence. Why do we need law enforcement or prisons or jails? We need to be thinking and acting beyond them as social workers. Their existence is violent, there is no need for them to be continuing actors in “smart decarceration”. If we agree that these systems are harmful, we should not trust them (Oswald et al., 2020) because they were not built to uphold the values in the world of actual safety and freedom. Working within these systems is antithetical to social work values.

    There was a great deal of value in parts of the recommendations including the investment in community infrastructure like mental health services, education, and other community support (Epperson & Pettus-Davis, 2016). These recommendations are in line with abolitionist values that focus on building community support instead of investment in the PIC. This type of solution resonates with me and a future I would like to see and support. The understanding that mental health services, education, housing, etc. are all factors that relate to the legal system outline the interconnectedness of all these issues and how they are not unrelated variables (Oswal et al., 2020). They all correlate. This type of understanding is essential to working within social work and a future rooted in abolition and community care.

    The concept of decarceration is in line with my social works goals, but overall, I think the recommendations and goals need to go further and embody more abolitionist values and less incrementalism.

  7. Ben (he/him/his)

    The two challenges that resonate with me and my social work goals at this moment are “Building financial capability and assets for all” and “reducing extreme economic inequality.” I’ve made my career thus far in afterschool education and youth empowerment type work. While I deeply believe in this work, it has been a steady process of disillusionment to see the narrow minded defecit model paradigms being applied in the youth serving non profit sector regarding the needs of schools, youth, and families. Funders and school partners want more STEM, higher school attendance, more sports, social-emotional development, student leadership, and family involvement, but very little context was given to why these needs were there. Folks would mention poverty or housing instability/homelessness, but both those seem to be thought of as intractable problems. That the cycle of poverty of will be broken by instilling in young people the power of a good work ethic and the drive and commitment to go to college. The evidence for this line of argument felt very weak. 22% all students don’t graduate high school, and a majority of high school graduates are unprepared for college with just about half of all CUNY students graduating from a 4 year program in 6 years (New York City Department of Education, 2020; New York State Comptroller, 2020).

    So how then, can we end a cycle of poverty? How about, by ending poverty period? I appreciate this call in the Grand Challenges for Social Work. That these are “ambitious yet achievable” political questions (Grand Challenges for Social Work, 2021). This doesn’t negate the need for supportive programming or social services for youth and families. Instead, it works in tandem to strengthen its impact.

    Furthermore, I’m moved by the direct correlation between reversing extreme inequality and strengthening financial security. I hope in my social work practice to continue building a conversation around the desperate need for wealth redistribution in our society. The existence of billionaires at all is a moral failing, and the only thing radical in the suggestion that working families are owed more by our society is in its very simplicity. I see social work research drawing direct connections between people’s every day lives and struggles with poverty. Additionally, I see such research proving the possibility of a better way forward towards the eradication of poverty. That universal basic income, cash transfers, universal health care, and housing as a human right, are fully achievable.

    Building financial capability and assets for all. (2021). Grand Challenges for Social Work.
    New York State Comptoller. (2020). Course Offerings: City University of New York.

    NYC Department of Education. (2020). New York City Graduation Rates Class of 2020.

    Reduce Extreme Economic Inequality. (2021). Grand Challenges for Social Work.

    1. Emily McMahon (she/her/hers)

      During my Senior year of undergraduate studies, I worked with the Hamilton Area YMCA youth development project. I engaged in before-care, recess and after-care sessions that stressed the formation of healthy social development through measurable outcomes. The YMCA implemented the Sanford Harmony program (known currently as Harmony SEL) to teach students about diversity, equity, inclusion, communication, critical thinking, empathy, and problem-solving. The program split learning modules by grade-level and provided activities that would facilitate the learning process. I felt that Sanford Harmony was a surface level attempt to brand the YMCA’s care programs as more than “baby-sitting.” The students expressed their frustration with Sandford Harmony and felt like it was extra homework. They wanted to go outside and play after sitting in school for the entire day. Moreover, the program was created in Arizona and the research objectives did not translate to the lived experiences of the students; I also speculate that the sample populations did not reflect the demographics in Trenton. Sanford Harmony did not address the many issues that student were facing such as involvement with the criminal justice system (some of the students’ parents were either employed in the informal financial sector or imprisoned), poverty, unstable housing, mental health problems, racism, domestic violence, and unstable family situations. I agree with your point that youth-development programs are advantageous so long as the overarching systems of oppression are addressed. Liberation and redistribution are necessary to truly break the cycle of poverty.

  8. M Kaufman

    “Despite the supposition that white supremacy and racism can be addressed within each extant Grand Challenge without having a stand-alone initiative, the findings of our analyses suggest that this has not, yet, been done.” (Teasly et al., 2021, p. 7)

    To me this quote seems to be one of the biggest challenges in the struggle to eliminate racism. Within the Grand Challenges, there is very little effort to speak directly to race and the impact of racism. By doing so, efforts to address racism are siloed as if racism doesn’t and hasn’t existed in every piece of our society for the past 400 years. For me it implies a logic that if we just push it over to the side it will go away. It won’t. If the goal is to have an impact on racial disparities in any and all systems, we have to start by naming it in every single place that it shows up and therefore accept that it is going to show up everywhere. If we aren’t even willing to name racism, then our efforts to address it will continue to fail (not to say they will succeed just by naming it either).

    Ever hear the saying DEI efforts are where efforts to address racism go to DIE? Not for the lack of effort by the majority black women who take on these nearly impossible roles, many times in addition to their full time job and without compensation. Rather because of the [white] leadership that constantly undermines their efforts, does not give them the resources or support to do the long and hard work that it takes to address a culture and systemically imbedded racism in our institutions. I happened to see it a few weeks ago. The DEI officer of at an organization I know of in Westchester, also a senior level person, planned a RJ circle for her office about implicit bias and racism and the executive director told her, after it was planned, that she thought it would be better to wait to do it in person because of how sensitive the topic was. With one simple executive decision, the ED disrespected and tokenized her DEI Officer, and deprioritized any small effort the office could have taken to start addressing racism that would inevitably benefited their clients. This is what we’re up against at almost every turn.

    There is plenty of research and data that talks about the impact of racism in all of our systems from the micro to the macro. Sure, we can do more of it and in some circumstances it is valuable data to have, especially if we are working to address specific issues within a local system, but I don’t think the lack of research is the problem here. The question I have is, when will we choose to believe the research? When will we choose to act on it? If we are not explicitly talking about and uplifting the need to end racism in all of our systems, we are upholding it. That’s all there is to it.

    Teasly, M. L., McCarter, S., Woo, B., Conner, L. R., Spencer, M. S., & Green, T. (2021). Eliminate Racism. Grand Challenges for Social Work Initiative, 27.

  9. SCM-G (she/her/hers)

    The grand challenge that most resonated with me was that of building healthy relationships to end violence. To be honest I had some difficulty choosing a challenge that most resonated. Many of the challenges, including the one I chose, state initiatives to end, eliminate, eradicate multiple issues that I believe may be larger than social work and research alone. I felt this particularly with the challenges of ending racism and eradicating social isolation. Although both these issues are extremely relevant and worthy of research and intervention, they will never not exist. I don’t know that it is productive or useful to aim for a utopia where evil is eliminated. Alternatively, especially as social workers, I think it is important to build upon these evils and focus heavily on supporting the folks that are suffering and dealing with those evils in their day to day lives.

    That is why I chose the challenge of building healthy relationships. Not only because building healthy relationships is an essential factor in many of the other challenges but also because it is one of the challenges that is most directly associated to the work I do as a clinical social work student. Although clinical social work does not begin and end strictly in the therapist’s office, I think a lot of us come into this work because we believe in the power of relationships and micro-level systems. No matter the modality, practice, or perspective you utilize as a clinical social worker, there is a great emphasis on exploring the relationships with our families and primary caretakers as children. Therefore, I believe there is still a great need for research within this realm, particularly research that focuses and prioritizes marginalized communities. That is why many of the initiatives named under this challenge, such as investment in preventative services, supporting research that explores structural inequalities that perpetuate gender-based violence, and collaborating with the smart decarceration initiative, are not only very possible but also foundational to addressing and building a social environment that is also anti-racist and less socially isolated.

    1. Anthony Ritosa (he/him/his)

      Many of these thoughts resonated with me. Looking at the list of “actions” completed in the last 5 years by each of the grand challenge teams, I noted many verbs that felt insufficient to actual change: “published, commented, reported, testified…” Perhaps this is also my bias against research and its role in action as well as why it is important to include impacted communities in the planning, execution, and continuation of research into impact. Are the grand challenges prioritizing the inclusion of impacted communities and community members?

      Certainly, the Grand Challenges are not the first of this kind of initiative in social work, and hopefully won’t be the last. However, is there enough buy-in for the success and implementation of recommendations born from these challenges to affect change on a large scale? I hope to see more tangible education-based resources aimed at specific community targets to help shift popular understanding of each of these challenges long before the end of these 10 years of the grand challenges.

      1. Jean Franco Molina (He/him/his)

        I also might have a tiny bias against research but you also raise a strong message about the verbs that were included in the different reports from Grand Challenges. Research is rough and can be a labor of love and everything but I also question how much the researcher is also willing to go the extra mile and be on the ground with the community they researched? I think Laura’s post brought this up as well but the researchers, who have BSW, MSW, or PhDs, are in a position of power to advocate for change with the community in different ways. I feel like it’s easy for research to become a way to absolve one’s self from the work necessary to make their research a reality. (I hope this kinda made sense)

  10. Anthony Ritosa (he/him/his)

    My initial reaction to reading about these Grand Challenges is that there is power in the naming of issues, in the asking for collaboration and new thinking to solve them, and in wide agreement on goals that attract the expertise of many. It is a wonder to see so much effort and intention in the social work field expressed and harnessed into a show of power. Next is how the profession, and how individuals and social work organizations choose to engage in that power of knowledge.

    My current placement is at True Colors United, working for LGBTQ youth with lived experience of homelessness. In my short experience in this area, I have seen more and more information sharing between homelessness service organizations. Good ideas and proven tactics to end homelessness are being explored and tested constantly. Research can be helpful to change the perspectives of those with power (voters & politicians). Research can also reveal the individual needs of people experiencing homelessness, warning against overgeneralization bias. What works in one place, with one individuals, may or may not work in and with another. This is the seemingly eternal struggle against homelessness, that there are so many individual and dire needs to address

    Leadership of the Grand Challenge to Reduce Extreme Economic Inequality calls for “a new social contract to reduce inequalities in wealth and income.” This call includes prioritizing more rights for people living in poverty, “among racial groups, and [among all genders].” Stronger social and financial welfare supports and programs are the foundation of the se recommendations. My hope is that social work research can shift minds for popular support of these changes. This is the new social contract summoned by this challenge. People living in poverty at all intersections must be seen as deserving of basic human dignity through financial livability. Similarly, a new social contract and perspective is necessary to end homelessness. No longer must we criminalize poverty and homelessness.


    Grand Challenges for Social Work. (2021). Progress and plans for the grand challenges.

  11. JN (He/Him/His)

    I found reading the Grand Challenges of Social Work an interesting read and yet one that felt incomplete and lacking in aspects of systemic change. While I think that many ideas mentioned in the reading are a good start, I see them failing in being final targets that we as organizers should aspire towards. This said, the challenge that resonated with me the most was “Promoting Smart Decarceration.” While I am not sure what the next issue area I will be orgaizing on next, I have spent the past bit organizing around abolition.

    What frustrates me about the article is the framing of incarceration. All decarceration is good decarcereation because no human deserves to be in a cage. No one is worthy of incarceration. I do appreciate how the disparities among those who have been incarcerated are pointed out, however, I do think that the central problem with incarceration is that people are incarcerated and the disparities of who is, mainly Black, Brown and low-income folks. It is frustrating to see this not really addressed in this piece here.

    In terms of thinking about research, going off what we have talked about in class, I think that it is important to center folks most directly impacted in all aspects of care. So being white, from an upper-class background and not having anyone affected by incarceration, I think its much more of my job to step back, push some papers, and not have a big say in guiding actual research on this topic.

  12. Laura Rolston (she/her/hers)

    One challenge that resonates with me is Building Healthy Relationships to End Violence. As someone who has worked in the fields of Domestic Abuse/Intimate Partner Violence, foster care, and now the carceral system, I have seen the cycle of violence continue in a multitude of ways. Violence comes in so many forms, whether it is between individuals, or happens systemically. Grand Challenges formerly had this challenge focused more on family violence, but has broadened its scope to address the violence that extends beyond intermediate familial relationships.

    As we have just seen yet again with the Gabby Petito case, law enforcement is not equipped to assess and properly respond to domestic violence calls. Large scale research supporting better outcomes for calls responded to by social workers/domestic violence advocates would be helpful in pushing advocacy to replace police with social workers or other forms of community safety. Another important area of research is the impact of early education in the prevention of violence. At my former job, our community education team implemented Second Step courses into the K-12 classes in the local school district; this program is based in social emotional learning and teaches children how to cope with emotions, relationships with classmates and friends, as well as intimate relationships in the older grades. This program has similar goals to the Fourth R Program: Strategies for Healthy Youth Relationships and Futures Without Violence which are both referenced in Grand Challenges’ publication, Ending Gender-Based Violence: A Grand Challenge for Social Work (Edleson et al., 2015).

    Something I noticed is that the leadership of Grand Challenges for Social Work all hold either a PhD, DSW, or MSW. While it does make sense for social workers to be in a position of leadership in this area considering it is addressing challenges within the field, I think in line with our discussions on the hierarchy of research, individuals who receive services from social workers should also be in leadership, as they are the ones who face the brunt of the issues when challenges are not being addressed. A line that stuck with me from our reading that relates to this is “although systemic failure is something social work aims to solve, the pressures of the neoliberal state is the engine of systemic violence within a profession that fails to interrupt it” (Oswald et al., 2020). Despite addressing systemic issues, our field’s research, organizations, and projects are often not valued by traditional academia and other structures if they are not led by people with “enough” academic standing.

    Edleson, J. L., Lindhorst, T., & Kanuha, V. K. (2015, November). Ending Gender-Based Violence: A Grand Challenge for Social Work. Retrieved from

    Grand challenges for social work. Grand Challenges for Social Work. (2021, January 21). Retrieved September 20, 2021, from

    Oswald, A. G., Bussey, S., Thompson, M., & Ortega-Williams, A. (2020). Disrupting hegemony in social work doctoral education and research: Using autoethnography to uncover possibilities for radical transformation. Qualitative Social Work, 1–17.

    1. Elisa Beltrán (she/they)

      As I think the “Disrupting hegemony in social work doctoral education and research: Using autoethnography to uncover possibilities for radical transformation” article reiterates, having only people who hold a PhD, DSW, or MSW on the leadership networks for the Grand Challenge is a huge contradiction toward what they aim to address. The deepening of coordination and collaboration with community organizations emphasized across these challenges could be better supported by more concrete examples, starting with who they appoint as their leaders.

  13. Malaika A. Small (she/her/hers)

    Hi all,

    First, I would like to thank those who shared entries prior to me for their vulnerability. There is something about writing this post that feels different from assignments in the past and sharing it publicly is stirring up some feelings for me. Since it is a blog post, I felt that sharing this is important before moving on to the requirements of the assignment.

    Here we go! One takeaway from The Grand Challenges for Social Work (GCSW) that rested in my spirit is the vision “complete elimination of injustices and inequities due to race, ethnicity, religion, sexual and gender identity and expression, abilities, custom, class and all other differences” (Grand Challenges for Social Work Vision, 2019). I love this! Immediately, I thought about the NASW Code of Ethics (the Social Worker’s bible of sorts) and where I feel it falls short. I appreciate how the GCSW expands the responsibilities of current and future social workers. Also, the GCSW vision and mission give more meaning to “people” and “client” which I feel is a tremendous limitation of the NASW Code of Ethics. Starting this reflection with thoughts about the vision and mission are extremely important because how does the saying go? “When there is no vision, the people will perish” Proverbs 29:18. As I think more about graduation and actually becoming an actual social worker, defining my vision, purpose and mission are critically important to me.

    After reviewing and sitting with the GCSW, I acknowledge that it was extremely difficult to narrow it down to one particular challenge that I align with personally and professionally. In a perfect world, once I become a social worker, I would have an impact in every challenge in some capacity. I strongly believe that the issues identified by the GCSW are deeply interconnected and entrenched in white supremacy. Smith (2020) says it best ‘Systemic racism’ conveys the pervasiveness of racial oppression, but white supremacy goes further by indicating that there is a rigid nexus of power that protects and enforces it (p.1).”

    It goes without saying, as a Black woman and future social worker, my ultimate vision and purpose is to carry on the legacy of my ancestors who fought for generations to eliminate and dismantle systemic racism and oppression. Systemic racism is at the core of most, if not all, social issues/problems in this country. I am positive that the ancestors who came before me are proud of the incremental changes that they fought and died for. However, until I and people who look like me are treated as humans by the criminal justice system, reap the benefits of pay equity, receive more than subpar health care, gain access to quality education and housing and have the right to vote without harm, the fight to end systemic racism and white supremacy continues.

    As a future organizing social worker, one of my goals is to become a better advocate and change maker to policies, legislation and practices that uphold white supremacy in my community and from the classroom to the board room. For example, if I am employed at an organization that is steeped in white supremacy culture and norms, I want to assist with creating the shift in all ways possible. Even if my contribution is as small as explaining to someone, “NO, YOU CANNOT TOUCH MY DAMN HAIR!” I want to feel ok saying that and not be judged! This may seem trite to some, however, in reality, it makes me really uncomfortable to engage in dialogue about personal choices, who I am and how I show up. Adding to this, it is also important for my work to center and amplify the voices of Black and brown people. I do not want to pathologize my community further and feed into a cycle of harm.

    One way that I would push the Eliminate Racism agenda forward is to include reparations. Let’s be honest, there is no apology big enough to undo the emotional and psychological trauma of hundreds of years of systemic oppression. Seriously, America CANNOT atone for its shitty (putting it mildly) treatment of Black people without a real conversation about reparations. In some capacity, I would like my social work research to reflect this as well. I have had conversations with my tribe about this subject many times before and I understand that reparations may vary based on individual needs. Whether it comes in the form of a monthly check, land, baby bonds, free education, loan forgiveness or, automatic shares in legalized cannabis profits. Black and brown people in this country are most deserving! To that end, I would love to be part of any work that seeks to move that agenda along.

    As I wrap up, I wonder if you have thoughts about your personal vision and mission as a future social worker. Do you think it is important to have one? Other thoughts that came to mind while reading the GCSW challenges, Eliminate Racism specifically, were about measures of success and impact. Beyond making strides in institutions and organizations, how is the work of the GCSW meeting the needs of the community? This was something that was missing for me. Do you feel impact was captured and/or reflected in a meaningful way? Finally, is there an issue or social problem that was missing? If so, what would you add? I look forward to hearing your thoughts.


    Eliminate racism. (2021). Grand Challenges for Social Work. Retrieved September 24, 2021 from

    Grand challenges for social work. Grand Challenges for Social Work. (2021, January 21). Retrieved September 24, 2021, from

    Workers, N. A. (2008). NASW Code of Ethics (Guide to the Everyday Professional Conduct of Social Workers). Washington, DC: NASW.

    The problem is white supremacy. (2020, June 30). BostonGlobe.Com.

  14. Xavier Cornejo (He/him)

    The sections that stood out the most to me from the list of Grand Challenges to Social Work include “Promote Smart Decarceration” and “Eradicate Social Isolation.”

    For me, promoting “smart decarceration” is critically important in my role as an abolitionist social worker, and I want to hone in on the language of “smart” as I assume there is great intention with putting that word in front. It seems that researchers at the University of Maryland and the University of Chicago implement such language with a policy lens to communicate to systems actors like police, courts, and prison officials that their research approach 1) does not mean blanket decarceration and 2) is aimed to address the critical needs of people who are released from prison.

    While I understand the value of such a statement in the public messaging for an academic institution, I would push them even further to consider the ways that incarceration does not assure community safety and does more to endanger lives than protect them. Smart research in this sphere of social work would move beyond paradigms of recidivism, instead seeking to understand what someone needs to be accountable to their own physical, social, and emotional wellbeing. From here a social work research might do a metadata study of resources and treatment plans that are necessary for people to thrive when they are released from prison. Research like this helps us propose bold policy and challenge the notions that security offer prosocial qualities to a society.

    Renowned prison abolitionist scholar and CUNY Graduate Professor Ruth Wilson Gilmore offers us a great deal in her analysis of the U.S’s transition from an emphasis on social welfare to one on incarceration. She notes that the social welfare state’s decline has led to an etching away at supports for working class people, espeically Black families, and has led to an insistence on organized abandonment. In other words, federal and state supports by the welfare state increasingly offer less support and leave vulnerable people left on their own. Through this lens, I look at eradicating social isolation as discussed in the Grand Challenges for SW. It is absolutely important that we consider how to build out systems that reduce isolation as we place emphasis on mental health, mental well-being, and create networks of communal support.


    DeCarlo, M. (2018). Chapter 1: Introduction to Research. In Scientific inquiry in social work \ (pp. 2–27). essay, Open Textbook Library.

    Gilmore, R. W. (2007). Golden gulag: Prisons, surplus, crisis, and opposition in globalizing California. (ACLS Humanities E-Book.)

    UMD. (2021, March 30). Grand challenges for social work. Grand Challenges for Social Work. Retrieved September 24, 2021, from

    University of Maryland. (2021, January 22). Grand challenges for social work. Grand Challenges for Social Work. Retrieved September 24, 2021, from

  15. Andrew R. Shvaiko (he/him/his)

    Coming into social work, I anticipated that much of the content that I would be learning would be through the lens of the positivist paradigm. I expected the professors to concentrate on using quantitative research methods that use large pools of people to come to “objective” outcomes. The positivist method of arriving at a definitive answer is what deterred me from studying sociology and psychology and made me hesitant about entering social work in the first place. It seemed very stripped of centering human experiences, and seemed to place people’s lived experiences into discrete categories and factors. Historically, social work has promoted this method of trying to solve social problems with quantitative research, using methods which, due to the domination of the field by dominant groups, often results in confirmation bias and produces results rooted in white supremacy, colonization, capitalism, and heteropatriarchy (Oswald, et al., 2020). Reading some of the grand challenges has provided me with optimism that qualitative research can be integrated into social work as a useful form of research to come up with solutions to large scale social issues.
    In considering how social work research will inform my understanding of the challenges and solutions to the grand challenges of social work, I question how my social location will interfere with my ability to elevate people’s voices and experiences. I found the grand challenge of “eradicating social isolation” to reframe my understanding of what a social issue can look like and what my vision of promoting change looks like. I resonate with the idea of addressing social isolation and how it impacts one’s perception of self worth and ability to communicate with those around you. My experiences allow me to intimately understand the issue of social isolation, the cascading effects it can have on a person’s life, and the difficulty socially isolated people often have in becoming more connected to others. My social isolation took shape in self medicating with drugs and alcohol, failing to form and gain support from a strong social circle, and lacking significant family or community support. However, I recognize that my privilege and social location allowed me to avoid being institutionalized and allowed me to continue my education to the graduate level despite my formative social challenges. Thinking of eradicating social isolation as a goal for my social work practice shifts my perspective on how to be more compassionate and stand in solidarity with marginalized communities that are systematically placed in situations that perpetuate social isolation. In working towards addressing this grand challenge, I have the benefit of drawing upon my own experiences and the skills I have developed to cope with social isolation and build community.
    The other grand challenge that resonates with me is “achieving equal opportunity and justice.” This connects with my goals and beliefs because people deserve the right to education, housing, employment and mobility regardless of their identity, ability, and lifestyle choices. For example, a history of substance use should not prevent a person from getting employment and affordable housing. Also, if a person has a disability, rather than lowering the minimum wage, the employer should be placed in a disability etiquette training in order for them to provide reasonable accommodations to any and every person who requests it. A component of why people who use substances or have a disability are so heavily stigmatized within the employment and housing market is because of the rhetoric used about these communities and an overall ignorance towards how to provide equal opportunities for them. Propaganda such as the war on drugs and eurocentric value systems perpetuate fear towards people who subvert the hegemonic belief systems that promote hate and fear instead of love and compassion. Achieving equal opportunity and justice is foundational to promoting a society in which all of its members are able to access the resources and care that they need. Framing my social work practice in view of addressing this grand challenge grounds my practice in a macro level view, as addressing this grand challenge is fundamental and will have a positive, cascading effect on other areas.


    Oswald, A. G., Bussey, S., Thompson, M., & Ortega-Williams, A. (2020). Disrupting hegemony in social work doctoral education and research: Using autoethnography to uncover possibilities for radical transformation. Qualitative Social Work, 1–17.

    Grand challenges for social work. Grand Challenges for Social Work. (2021, January 21). Retrieved September 13, 2021, from

    1. Jean Franco Molina (He/him/his)

      I really liked your first paragraph and would like to add on that I feel like qualitative research may be a bit more accessible and legible to the general public compared to quantitative research articles I’ve read in the past. Reading articles with entire pages dedicated to charts, tables, and discussions on what formulas and software was used to work with numbers always turned me away from research, but it was articles that read to me like a human person wrote it that always stuck to me. When I read Austin’s part in “Disrupting hegemony in social work doctoral education and research”, especially the line “over preparation is a strategy that people with imposter syndrome often use to ease their anxieties” (6), I felt a part of my brain light up. I forgot where I heard this, but we learn better when we are able to apply it to ourselves. All of this is to say that the reliance on quantitative research and its dominance in social work is very much playing into the white supremacist ideal of things having to be provable and tangible instead of letting things just be, and I appreciate that this class tends to move away from it and into qualitative methods.

      Oswald, A. G., Bussey, S., Thompson, M., & Ortega-Williams, A. (2020). Disrupting hegemony in social work doctoral education and research: Using autoethnography to uncover possibilities for radical transformation. Qualitative Social Work, 1–17.

  16. Elisa Beltrán (she/they)

    In reading the “Grand Challenges for Social Work,” two challenges that resonated with my social work values were “Reduce extreme economic inequality” and “Harness technology for social good.” The research and policy recommendations created to support these issues are certainly aligned with greater, macro-level issues but have me reflecting on how they reach the people who are directly impacted by them. I found the grand challenges to be literal to their name, big asks that may not be sustainable for grassroots organizing movements. It frustrates me that some research under each of these challenges is under high paywalls and that would serve as a barrier in many folks using the tools they are offering. A question I would have related to the research solution in the “Reduce extreme economic inequality” challenge is how much of a role the outside organizations would have in coordination and the development of a special interest group and for how long.

    With these challenges in mind, I would ideally like to see social work research gathering information that underscores the intersections between economic justice and bridging the digital divide. I would also hope that this research operates under a critical paradigm where directly-impacted folks are co-researchers and the research “not only studies power imbalances but seeks to change those power imbalances” (DeCarlo, 2018, pg. 147). It could potentially highlight the inequitable access to technology and its detriment to people earning dependable wages, if any, during this pandemic. This was an issue I worked with directly in my field placement last year in immigrant-owned cooperative business development. I saw how little resources are made available in digital literacy for free or even available in a language other than English, and how much extra labor goes into translating that knowledge.

    A research solution that stood out to me in the “Harness technology for social good” challenge fact sheet was “create a new set of standards in curricula and pedagogy that support technology inclusion in learning and practice across all social work schools” (Grand Challenges for Social Work, 2018, pg. 1). As a social work student who spent the first half of my education learning online, I, like many of the people in the class, saw how quickly this solution had to be put into practice. We’ve seen its strengths and limitations for our education, but how it further develops in the years to come is filled with uncertainty and anticipation. It will be interesting to see how much of our organizing stays online, how will social work education and research adapt to that?

    DeCarlo, M., Open Textbook Library. (2018). Scientific inquiry in social work.

    Grand Challenges for Social Work Fact Sheet No. 9, 2018,

  17. Erik Perry (he/him/his)

    Two of the Social Work Grand Challenges that resonate with me most are to “Promote Smart Decarceration” and to “Achieve Equal Opportunity and Justice”. As some of my colleagues have pointed out in their posts, as social workers we must challenge what is or isn’t “smart” decarceration, advocating against the siloing of human beings regardless of their involvement with the criminal legal system, reinvesting resources in diversion programs, restorative justice practices, and credible messenger programs to make meaningful strides for public safety. A key component of the policy brief stipulates that any decarceration efforts must address disparities pertaining to race, class, and behavioral health. If we are to use New York City as an example, the humanitarian crisis at Rikers Island demonstrates how an overwhelmingly black and brown incarcerated population leads to abject neglect in a society entrenched in white supremacy. Elected officials such as the Mayor continue to withhold executive powers such as 6A or supervised release, deflecting his responsibility to decarcerate by focusing instead on parole reform and less is more. Bronx DA Darcel Clark released an Op-ed this past week calling for a mental health summit, focused on preventive care, and mental health emergency responders in lieu of criminalizing individuals experiencing mental health crises. My current field placement is at Osborne NY Center for Justice Across Generations, coordinating a speakers bureau that engages in narrative advocacy of individuals and their families whom are directly impacted by the criminal legal system. Centering directly-impacted voices at forums with public officials is a qualitative means of research, expanding knowledge enriched by context that is transferrable.

    Included in the policy priorities of the grand challenge “achieving equal opportunity and justice” is the need to address racial disparities in exclusionary disciplinary measures, with Black youth accounting for 48% of suspensions despite representing 15% of the US public school population. Accountability of school administrators is necessary to prevent punitive zero-tolerance policies, turning instead towards evidenced-based modes of intervention. Other surveillance issues such as the gang database, often referred to as stop and frisk 2.0, overage children of color, criminalizing children of color before they have any direct contact with the criminal legal system. School Resource Officers have no place in schools, and their presence results in the school to prison pipeline. Rather than mass surveillance and discriminatory broken windows policing that continue to funnel human being into death traps like Rikers (population currently 6,800 up from 3,800 a year ago) that is responsible for the death of 12 individuals this year, reinvestment in community supports is imperative.

    1. Emma H. (she/her)

      I really appreciated your post and experiences at Osborne. Giving the tangible example of coordinating speakers as a form of narrative advocacy painted a clear picture of ways to use qualitative research. I am experiencing similar advocacy at my field placement at RAPP.

      RAPP wants to share their own personal lived experiences with legislators to show them the human impact of the bills they are pushing for. I’m sure a number, at least some, of the legislators have read quantitive stats on how these bills are beneficial. But knowing the personal narratives and stories of those impacted by the bill hopefully ensures they vote in the same way they have sponsored and make RAPP’s bills a top priority. This use of narrative story telling was used when a legislator shared one of RAPP’s members personal stories (with permission) on the floor as a way to urge legislators.

  18. Jo H. (she/her/hers)

    Upon looking through the list of Grand Challenges for Social Work – I immediately looked at “Eliminating Racism” as one of the challenges that resonates with me as my goal in SW is to support and empower black communities. However, in recognizing that we live within the confines of a society that promotes a social caste system – this mindset quickly changed. In a country that has refused to acknowledge its history and has continuously contributed to the oppression and downward mobility of black and brown communities – the goal cannot simply be to “eliminate racism.” Instead we should be actively working to challenge institutions that promote inequity and uphold racist ideals while supporting communities effected. The racial disparities that exist throughout the country aren’t new, therefore, as a guideline for social workers – a plan should have already been devised to address these issues and evidence based research (that I’m sure already exists) should have been used to enforce why it is necessary to address this challenge. The fact that this challenge was recently introduced- and during the summer of protests last year-is alarming and I question whether its addition to the list was a form of performative activism. **Nonetheless, this “challenge” has, finally, listed so what now. I’d suggest we, social workers, get to work. Social Work research has allowed us to identify sources that directly contribute to the downward mobility of marginalized communities. There is no longer a need to try to decipher how racism has managed to permeate through various systems and oppress people – for it is clear. Now there is a need to put this research into work and attempt to dismantle and reconstruct these system. We can use this research to center the people affected by racism, uplift their voices and create a society where they are included. Marginalized communities are too often put under a microscope, used for their resources and utilized for the advancement of others. We should instead be listening to these communities and work to address their needs and towards their advancement.

  19. Mary Miqui (She/Her)

    There are many challenges that come within the Social Work field. Some of these challenges are discussed by the organization Grand Challenges for Social Work. They are “a groundbreaking initiative to champion social progress powered by science”. In this paper, I will discuss two challenges that resonated with me and my social work goals, which are to decolonize myself and the way we currently tackle social issues. The first challenge is to “the end of homelessness” and the second challenge is “ensuring healthy development for all youth”. It is imperative to collaborate with each other with the purpose to educate and change any misconceptions on social issues affecting our communities.

    Homelessness is a serious problem in our society and a social justice issue that needs our immediate attention. According to the National Alliance to end Homeless, “there are approximately nearly 549,928 people who are homeless on any given night in the U.S.” (January 2016). Moreover, based on research done by the Trevor Project “LGBTQ+ youth represent as much as 40% of the homeless youth population”. Our current social structures are influenced by patriarchy and capitalism. Therefore, as a society we tend to experience social and economic inequalities. Capitalism is based on class systems and driven by profits. This create an oppressive social and economic system. The racial and economic divisions in our country have made it possible for oppression and inequality to flourish. Capitalism affects how non-profit organizations operate. While their main goal is helping those in need, non- profit organizations make financial decisions and gains out of the necessity of those who use their services. There are many negative aspects such as class division, competition of goods, social inequality that makes it difficult for working people to obtain social mobility and may lead to homelessness. To destigmatize homelessness, we must work in building a community that supports each other without any political agenda to fulfill. Economic inequality, open markets and policies are part of the problem of why homelessness is on the rise in our communities. As Social Workers, we must find community based solutions to provide support to people without a home, such as advocating for affordable housing and creating job programs that pays a living wage and provide economic security.

    According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, “1 in 10 children has a serious mental health issue”. Promoting mental health programs are essential to a child’s healthy development. My personal experience of complex trauma in childhood and adolescence has motivated me to advocate against the stigmas that exist against mental health treatment in the Latinx community. Culturally speaking, it is not easy for parents to open about the intergenerational traumas that has brought pain and lost in our communities. Per the website, Grand Challenges of Social Work, “behavioral health problems in childhood and adolescence take a heavy toll over a lifetime, with significant impacts on rates of economic independence, morbidity, and mortality”. The Seven Action Steps created by the Coalition for the Promotion of Behavioral Health (CPBH) promotes steps that can help any youth in reducing any harm from behavioral health problems. Working with young people that struggle with a variety of issues, from traumatic experiences, suicidal ideation, depression, anxiety, to low self-esteem has driven me to create awareness about mental health and promote healthy behaviors. It is a great challenge to ensure healthy development in youth. However, by implementing family focused intervention programs it can help a child with their developmental challenges and mental health. As future social workers, it is our responsibility to create consciousness on social issues topics that affect people with diverse backgrounds. Such as actively forming alliances with government agencies, residents and other community leaders, to create programs and implement community-based solutions.

    There are two main research methods, qualitative and quantitative, that will help social workers to develop knowledge about social issues to help clients and communities. Research will help us to draw meaningful conclusions and potential outcomes to improve the well-being of society. As social workers, it is our job to break the barriers faced by those who feel left out in our society. It is important to learn how to be culturally sensitive to create effective solutions. Therefore, research is important because it will help us to further understand the needs of certain groups. The main idea is to continuously challenge people’s perspectives or ideologies by providing facts backed by research. Furthermore, it is imperative to understand the biases that exist within the political system and the interests of those funding the studies. This analysis puts forward the idea of centering policies around community needs such as starting to fund programs that can provide housing and ensure healthy development.

  20. Katherine KC (she/her) (she/her)

    I am interested to learn more about how the “grand challenges” are determined and the leadership structure of the Grand Challenges for Social Work organization. It was revealing to see that the leadership board is made up only of academics and I wonder what the “solutions” to some of the grand challenges might look like if non-academic people were invited to participate in developing this report. I was also struck by how each of the “grand challenges” were presented as a separate entity as opposed to intersecting forms of oppression.

    In their introduction to the “Grand Challenges for Social Work” authors begin the report by separating deep-rooted and systemic issues into distinct “categories” and defining each challenge as a separate problem. While it is important to examine each challenge with care and specificity, I do think there is a danger in not acknowledging how each challenge intersects. For example, “creating social responses to a changing environment” cannot be done well without also examining and centering environmental racism. The report moves racism into its own “eliminating racism” category but fails to show how race and racism impact the other challenges. This is a theme throughout the report. An examination of “The Grand Challenges” is only complete if issues are viewed holistically.

    While I resonate and agree with almost all of the Grand Challenges, there was one that gave me pause; “Harnessing Technology for Social Good.” I wonder why this was included in the report and am skeptical of the goals of the challenge. In the report, authors write, “In a high-tech future, the social work profession needs to move away from low-tech solutions and create tech-responsive policies, leverage analytic techniques developed for big data, and engage in technology-mediated practice.” While I agree that social workers can use technology and data for research, this language surrounding this challenge seems intentionally vague and I worry it gives an opening for corporations and big tech companies to enter the social work field. Also concerning, is the push to “standardize” and use a “business management” approach to social work. Authors cite one of the goals of Harnessing Technology for Social Good as “Develop, test, and refine new interventions that use technology such as mobile apps, gamification, big data, and the internet in social work practice.” What does “gamification” in social work practice mean and who is driving this practice? I am particularly concerned about the role tech may play in social work initiatives in determining funding and also how research is conducted.

    For my field placement, I am working with the research department at the Center for Court Innovation (CCI). We are partnering with the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice to examine the use of fines and fees in Jefferson County AL. Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice recently published a report, “Under Pressure: How fines and fees hurt people, undermined public safety, and drive Alabama’s racial wealth gap”. The report gives an in-depth analysis of the fines and fee structure in the Alabama court systems with an emphasis on how the court system disproportionally impacts Black Alabamans. The report was written to gain the attention of Jefferson County judges and set the groundwork for a more comprehensive and data driven study in partnership with CCI. Alabama Appleseed is a small nonprofit and in order to receive the “greenlight” to conduct research, leaders in the organization sought it necessary to partner with the tech company IMB to transfer data. The IMB corporation has a “social good” branch (not the same language used in the grand challenge title) and agreed to partner with Alabama Appleseed and CCI on this research study. I am curious to know more about IBM’s involvement in this project as well as other tech companies’ involvement in social work research. I understand from a small non-profit perspective the need for funding and also the “legitimization” that comes from working with IBM. However, I wonder if this partnership is necessary and if partnering with a large corporation (especially one that has a history of using prison labor to produce raw goods) counteracts some of the structural goals (such as highlighting racism in judicial systems – which is deeply tied to the use of poorly compensated prison labor) that Alabama Appleseed has set out to accomplish. I am also skeptical of corporations that have a “social good” branch and expect it was developed on IBM’s part to keep up on social trends for companies to perform ethical practices to present to top executives and board members.

    After only one week in my field placement, I am already seeing tech companies encroaching on research studies under the guise of “social good.” After reading “Grand Challenges” I am curious to know more about the push for big data, tech, and corporate involvement in social work and how it will impact people working in the field.

  21. Sam Wilson (He/him/his)

    Ending social isolation resonates as a Grand Challenge. I struggle with this challenge. I often ask myself, what does it take to create social ties? After taking the test for social isolation risk on the AARP website, the results tell me I am at high-risk. It appears that I struggle with social isolation even without the majority of risk factors, and that I can confirm. Research into the implementation of standard social health assessments like that of the AARP could aid in the effort to end social isolation, perhaps by exploring the effectiveness of any standing social health assessments as touchpoints for raising awareness and offering space for education. Creating opportunities for social ties is one of the noted efforts to end isolation as a Grand Challenge. Suggestions offered by the AARP offered the standard of seeking out social experience through faith, hobbies, and online activities. I struggle with this standard concept that those who are experiencing isolation are often then held responsible for reaching out to others and creating these opportunities for social ties. As a social worker, I want to develop a better understanding of how already established communities (communities with social power) can be more inclusive and inviting to those who are feeling isolated. If I struggle to connect with others and am suffering from social isolation, how am I expected to create real opportunities for new, lasting ties and foster them without support? Economic and cultural factors are among the complications intertwined with typical suggestions like sports or classes. I wonder how we and our communities can foster inviting and inclusive social settings, where folks can feel safe enough to reach out from isolation and are met with support and connection without pressure and expectation.

    The myriad of efforts to undertake this Grand Challenge is highlighted by the variety of those that are bullet pointed. Families and caregivers need freedom from caring for others to even begin to end social isolation and create opportunities for social ties. People who are incarcerated need to be without the threat of and the experience of social isolation in solitary confinement, let alone the isolation of being incarcerated for long periods of time away from family, friends, and community. Research examining individuals who were once socially isolated and now feel socially connected might support efforts to end isolation. Examining relationships between those subject to exclusionary practices and their impact on social isolation could bolster arguments for a more inclusive society. Any research to examine the bridge that crosses the gap from isolation to connection is of use.

    I imagine the entire human population could benefit from research and solutions to this Grand Challenge of ending isolation. The task seems immense. The abstract nature of overcoming the obstacles to finding solutions to such a Grand Challenge is eloquently expressed by Edwina R. Uehara as being, “‘right over the horizon’—that is, the science, technology, and know how needed to address the challenges are imaginable but the path to solution is not yet clear.”

    Edwina R. Uehara from Identifying and Tackling Grand Challenges for Social Work, page 5.

    AARP Risk Assessment for Social Isolation:

    1. Andrew R. Shvaiko (he/him/his)

      Your connection to this grand scheme is relatable in many ways. I did not notice the quiz available on the site so I will go back and check it out. I feel you when you say that if you yourself struggle with social isolation, how are you going to be able to foster new meaningful ties in the future. I experienced a lot of social isolation in my childhood and have found tools to either hide it or pivot out of it. The pandemic has tested me on this front and has resurfaced many behaviors that stem from social isolation. This is particularly true with my internship where even though I show up in person 2 times a week, I walk into an empty office where I may come in contact with 2 people a day. I wonder what it would mean to be able to slot out time for human interaction for the sake of self-care instead of looking at a computer screen all day.
      You bring up a good point that class and cultural differences bring up barriers for people who want to build social connections. I am curious how spaces that center hobbies or interests could be more inclusive in ways that do not only include disability. One way that I can think of is that the majority of a group does not get to determine how the space is orchestrated and that everyone gets to have their opinion heard before moving forward with an action. I think using art can be beneficial in this because some people are less vocal than others and having a chance to express their thoughts in an alternative form may support with a person’s tendency to self-isolate.

  22. Michelle (she/her/hers)

    One challenge that resonates with me is smart de-carceration. I think mass incarceration is the conflation of several social issues, particularly one that affects people of color the most. Mass incarceration has a white supremacy legacy, it was borne out of a blueprint of enslavement. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander makes a very strong argument against mass incarceration and the way it’s been systematized to continue to oppress BIPOC, especially when enslavement and Jim Crow were outlawed. This smart de-carceration resonates with me on a personal level as a Black individual who constantly has to negotiate the way I interact with the world in order to ensure that I do not come in contact with the criminal justice system. Its traumatic to have to grapple with the reality that is mass incarceration. There were a few points that particularly or absence of points stood out to me. The first is the complete disregard for the Native American population. Research shows that they are also part of the mass incarceration bubble, and I believe they deserve to be included. I think part of the ironically exclusionary approach that happens with a lot of social issues is inherently white supremacist. The constant erasure of Native Americans from data, from history, from existing is exactly a function of settler colonialism. As social workers, researchers, policy makers etc it is incumbent on us to avoid the erasure of people and to not operate from a racist ignorant lens. Another issue I saw with this challenge is that it isn’t exactly rooted in liberation. The lack of liberation language actually scares me into thinking that smart de carceration will be just another system engendered to replace the one we currently have and not in a very good or effective way. There is zero mention of abolition; there is a lot of mention of reducing recidivism, which, if there wasn’t a carceral system it would be rather difficult for this word or concept to even continue existing (not sure if I am making sense). “What if incarceration were not an option for certain types of offense?” (From Mass Incarceration to Smart Decarceration Carrie Pettus-Davis, Matthew W. Epperson) this doesn’t seem like liberation or abolition at all.

    I think a focus of smart de-carceration should be to really gauge public sentiments on de-carceration; I think a broad shift in how we think about incarceration and its function needs to happen along with reinvesting the money that isn’t spent to sustain prisons. I think social workers can be instrumental in pushing actual liberation forward and alternatives to policing/incarceration. Along with including everyone affected by mass incarceration. This challenge aligns with my social work goals, as I mentioned above, I believe mass incarceration is the fusion of more than one social issue (racism, poverty, lack of funding for mental health, homelessness); I also strongly believe that divesting from law enforcement and creating alternatives to policing/incarceration would greatly make a difference in our community (BIPOC). I don’t think it needs to be done incrementally the way its described, if the worry is that somehow, we must liberate some but not all then it isn’t rooted in social justice.

  23. Irma Cruz (She/Her/Hers/)

    This week we had the opportunity to learn about Grand challenges for social workers created by the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare. The initiative’s goal is to advocate for social progress through the method of science. The purpose is to address many historical and relevant issues and work collaboratively to reconstruct a broken system. One of the challenges that resonates with my goal as a social worker is promoting smart decarceration. Currently the US continues to hold the highest number of mass incarcerations. Instead of providing the resources and services for inmates to rehabilitate we lock them up. Promote smart decarceration approach is proactive, comprehensive, and evidence-based. If social workers and other allies continue to advocate for smart decarceration it can help reduce the number of people that are sentenced to live behind bars. This approach can change the way we view public safety and help inmates rehabilitate.

    Social workers should continue to research the effects incarcerated individuals experience during and after they are released. When an individual is isolated for a long period of time it can be difficult for them to integrate back into society. Although many desire to integrate back and return home to their families and communities it can be difficult to reintegrate. Having a record makes it more difficult for them to have access to housing, employment, public benefits, and other essential programs. For instance section 8 that provides housing for low-income people does not accept ex-offenders. One of the readings that helps us understand the effect of mass incarceration on black and brown communities is The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. . Black men in particular continue to be the target especially within the confines of the justice system. As a result, black men are frequently incarcerated and labeled as “criminals” and “felons’ ‘ without having a full understanding of the different factors that lead to their arrest such as someone’s color of skin. Another important factor is the lack of empathy and inhumane treatment many of them receive prior to being arrested and throughout their sentence as they will continue to encounter overtly racist language and acts.

    Their rights continue to be violated even after they are released from prison. Many of them will be labeled as felons for the rest of their lives making it almost impossible for them to continue with their life. Once they are released and begin to make efforts to rehabilitate there are very little to no resources to help them. The modern Jim Crow system that currently exists creates a massive underclass to keep people segregated. Many individuals are at risk of being reincarcerated due to lack of opportunities when attempting to fight a system intended to keep them trapped and tracked. As difficult as it may sound some of these individuals find it easier to live in prison than outside due to all of the legal roadblocks that make it almost impossible for them to rebuild their lives.
    Social workers need to research the influence of environmental factors like an individual’s socioeconomic status that can lead someone to be incarcerated. Examples include culture of poverty, social process theories, social structure theories, and disorganized neighborhood theories. Being constantly discriminated against can affect someone’s emotion and physical wellbeing. Social workers question some of the policies that establish that criminalize and incarcerate some communities more than others. As well as what our organization is doing to help inmates rehabilitate and reintegrate back into society. Currently the University of Chicago’s Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice is bridging research and practice to reduce the over reliance on incarceration while addressing the racial and behavioral health disparities in the criminal justice system.

    Alexander, Michelle. (2012). The new Jim Crow : mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness. New York : [Jackson, Tenn.] :New Press; Distributed by Perseus Distribution.

  24. Liliana (She/her)

    The grand challenge that immediately resonates most with me is “Eradicate social isolation”. At heart, I am a community builder. I am of the belief that one of the (many) roots of the suffering disabled folks face is social isolation. In class, we talked about how the term ‘minority’ is often incorrectly used in a way that silences of makes smaller communities that are actually NOT numerically a minority. A student brought up the fact that in OYR Classes, students of color are actually not minorities, and the use of that language is intentionally disempowering.
    That made me reflect on what that means for people who are literally the only (identity) in (space). Or one of very few. There are very few disabled students at Silberman. By all numerical counts, we are not the majority of the population here, and that is profoundly reflected in the complete lack of openly disabled faculty, or of disability justice content in classes. It also is reflected in social isolation. I think about this a lot for disabled folks whose disabilities make social media not an accessible or enjoyable space. Conversations led by those with chronic illnesses who identify as disabled have dominated the few disability spaces that exist, mostly online. Those who are hyper-marginalized within disability community are hyper-isolated. This includes folks who may not have physical access to spaces or technology, and also folks whose disabilities involve distinct ways of existing socially such as autistic folks, people with psychosis, people with down syndrome, and people who identify with intellectual disability. I don’t want to create an ‘oppression olympics’ in disability, but I do want to recognize a very real lateral hierarchy.

    All disabled folks need community, not just disabled folks who can navigate social media and act in ways that are perceived as socially acceptable. I currently run support groups for queer & disabled folks at the LGBT Center. I am thinking a lot about how to make my groups accessible to the most marginalized disabled folks- especially those in residential facilities, those who are elder, and those who are incarcerated. Many disabled people spend a disporportionate time alone. Many physically disabled folks get literally trapped inside their NYC housing if it is inaccesible, which NYCHA housing very often is. I am interested in how we can have community care that is liberatory, transportable, and open to anyone regardless of how their disability might come forward into the space. There is a serious pattern of low-income, black & brown, cognitively disabled, or those identifying with psychosis being kicked out of predominantly white, high income, chronic illness focused disability groups and I think that demands a refocus. We can’t go from “nothing about us without us” to “nothing about some of us without some of us”.

    The website mentions how this value can be focused on elders, and I think it would be very powerful to use that framework to incorproate intersections of disability. Sometimes efforts to tackle lonliness fail to consider the desire for communities that reflect one’s identities. The Lubben Social Network Scale seems like a great starting place, but thinks more about friends and family, and does not necesarily focus on questions like “what are your core identities?” and “how many people do you know who share one or more of your core identities?” I am very interested to think more about how isolation impacts disabled communities.

  25. Mark (he/him/his)

    Of the “Grand Challenges for Social Work,” the one that resonated with me the most (albeit with some alterations) is the ideal of “advancing long and productive lives.” My first thought when reading through the description is that I take issue with the idea of productivity being a central goal. Productivity is often seen as the most important and desirable trait within capitalism, and it is not the goal I would want to emphasize. However, I then began to think about what productivity could be a stand-in for; I believe everyone should get to have fulfilling relationships, communities, and pastimes. If I choose to think about productivity outside of the capitalist, neoliberal framework, then I do believe that we should strive towards a world where everyone can live a fulfilling life to whatever degree possible. I want to see the focus on production move from producing capital and materials to the building and rebuilding of sustainable communities.
    The other element of this goal is the advancement of long lives. That jumped out at me as intertwined with the issue of climate change. The climate crisis is already and will continue to threaten the lives of people all over the world. The idea of climate catastrophe significantly shorting the lives of every living being on this planet is frighteningly conceivable. Every child born today is at risk of a short life due to environmental disaster. The solutions and changes needed to move towards long and productive lives for everyone will require radical and thoughtful research.
    Research is essential in figuring out how to tackle the global problem of climate change on both local and international scales. Not every country and community has felt the pain of climate change to the same degree. We need to study how communities have been disproportionately impacted to ensure a just response and address things like environmental racism. Without this important research and lens, the intended solutions and strategies will replicate the same injustices that already exist. I think the clearest example from the readings that supports this idea is the Chicago Beyond “Why Am I Always Being Researched?” guidebook. One of the inequities they discuss is “ownership.” At this point in the process, keeping the planet habitable will require major structural changes that could affect people’s day-to-day lives. If solutions are designed and enforced from a top-down approach, I believe that we will fail. Giving communities ownership over the research and development of more sustainable systems could increase the level of buy-in from community members. We need to help communities create their own systems for navigating the climate disasters to come and avoid a full-on catastrophe.

    1. Emily McMahon (she/her/hers)

      I particularly echo your initial definition of productivity through a capitalistic viewpoint. Unfortunately, capitalism often determines the worth of a person by the relative amount of goods and services they can efficiently produce in a timely manner. This measurement can be connected to social exchange theory which states that social behavior is the result of an exchange process. Individuals weigh the potential benefits and risks associated with social relationships and make decisions based on this cost-benefit analysis. People will terminate or abandon a relationship when the risks outweigh the rewards. Social norms, values, and expectations also influence the outcomes of interactions (Hutchinson et al., 2019). In my work with elderly hospice patients, I noticed that many people experienced low self-esteem because they could no longer contribute a great amount of financial or emotional capital to their families or friends. Older individuals may experience a loss of power and require more assistance from members of their family or other caretakers. Their caregiver, in turn, might perceive the social interaction as burdensome because there is an imbalance in the exchange of resources. I believe that research can address the limited definition of productivity by re-operationalizing the term to include the passing on of knowledge or any action that promotes personal or social-well being. By broadening our understanding of productivity, we can eliminate some of the pressure to work ourselves to the bone. We can imagine a world in which simply discussing our day with someone or even taking a nap is considered as being productive.

      Hutchinson, E. D., Wood Charlesworth, L., & Cummings, C. (2019). Theoretical perspectives on human behavior. In Dimensions of human behavior: Person in environment (6th ed., pp. 31–74). SAGE Publications, Inc.

    2. Andrew R. Shvaiko (he/him/his)

      I think that you bring in a unique perspective on the grand challenge “Advancing productive and long lives.” I agree that being productive has been made to be synonymous with the production of material goods for the sake of building capital in the United States. This makes me think of the idea of the pharmacon, where drugs are prescribed for people solely for the purpose of allowing them to be more productive at work. This means that drugs are never given to people for pleasure and are in fact placed into the category 1-4 drug scale depending on how much pleasure they offer in contrast with productivity. It would be interesting to reenvision productivity to mean something beyond the purpose of creating capital but instead, as you said, for the goal of creating sustainable communities.
      Thinking about my placement, I am curious how it would be if my supervisor put as much attention towards my ability to connect with people in the office as they do towards my ability to complete tasks quickly. I would think that connecting with people who have been doing with the work teaches me as much if not more about how to be an effective community organizer as making a know your rights form does. I guess one issue is that the completion of tasks is easier to measure and therefore is most convenient. I wonder how qualitative research can support with find alternative ways of measuring productivity that does not involve the completion of tasks for the purpose of generating capital and meeting deadlines.

  26. Austin G. Oswald (He/They) Post author

    Dear community,
    Thank you everyone who contributed to our class blog. I enjoyed reading about your passions and plans to address the grand challenges that our profession is committed to improving through research, policy, and practice. As we move forward in this course, it will be helpful to continue thinking about these challenges and how you might craft a research study to build evidence in the service of our collective liberation from racism, housing precarity, the prison industrial complex, interpersonal AND structural violence, health disparities, capitalism, and economic insecurity among other injustices. Keeping the grand challenges in heart and mind will help us stay focused on building knowledge – in solidarity – with the goal of dismantling our nation’s toughest social problems. This is a great place to start conceptualizing your problem statements. You might want to explore the scholarship of social work researchers mentioned in the grand challenges impact report who are in your area of interest as you start building your literature review. Why not reach out to them? I’m sure they’d love to hear from you!

    Many of you are operating within a critical paradigm that challenges the status quo of dominant academic pursuits that subjugate people and communities who do not fit into mythic norms. This was most evident in the posts authored by our collogues working in the space of “smart decarceration” who acknowledge the importance of this work while also highlighting the limitations of working within the confines of the carceral state. Many of you are yearning for more, and your abolitionist goals and visions are not lost on me. You are reaching for new (more critical) versions of these “grand challenges,” and I wonder what they might look like if we were to re-write them in solidarity with those most impacted by the injustices we are trying to absolve.

    You recognize the intersectional nature of these challenges and the complex matrix of domination that perpetuates inequities within and among groups (see Collins, 1990). I hear the murmurs of Black feminist desires in your posts that demand we center the margins (see Hooks, 1984) and completely restructure society by eradicating white supremacy, ableism, cis-heteronormativity, patriarchy, and capitalism among other systems of oppression. I appreciate those in the class who are reaching for community based participatory methods (CBPR) and dream of working alongside community members as co-researcher by centering their voices and lines of analyses in knowledge building. In ways, we are all trying to work the scholar-activist hyphen that separates and joins scholarship and activism within the politics of everyday life.

    Many of you are already considering the populations that you would like to know more about (i.e., children and youth, people who are homeless, queer folx, older adults, BIPOC, people living in poverty, people who were formerly incarcerated, survivors of domestic abuse); some have targeted interventions in mind (i.e., housing assistance programs) that they would like to test whereas other are more interested in working with community members to tell their stories in their voice. I want to encourage you to think critically about how we can use research to advocate for services and supports for individuals and communities in need without pathologizing them and reproducing a deficits-based perspective.

    I’m honored and humbled to learn alongside you all. Please continue being critical consumers of information and feel empowered to challenge authoritative texts like these. Where are the gaps? What is missing or overlooked? Where are the points of tension? How does hegemony seep in? Or, as Jose keenly questions, what is the performative nature of calls-to-action like these? This is an excellent jumping off point for your research projects. Looking forward!

    With gratitude for you and your ideas,

    Collins, P. H. (1990). Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment. Hyman.

    Hooks, B. (1984). Feminist theory: from margin to center. South End Press.

  27. Hena Zakir (she/her/hers)

    The challenge that resonated most with me was “Close the Health Gap”. This issue affects many individuals and communities across the nation. There is a lack of access to affordable healthcare but also information on prevention measures and how to integrate the social determinants of health into our healthcare system. This can be done in many ways through social work research. Social work research can inform the challenges of marginalized communities and how to further support these communities through navigating better healthcare and break down the causes of inequity.
    I see this challenge in immigrant communities. The two solutions I have seen to help these communities to close the health gap through social work research would be to inform them about predatory marketing and increase health literacy in these communities. Social work research can help by working with communities, to identify resources in the community as well as allies to help increase education awareness about better health. Also, through social work research it would help to empower these communities to mobilize and foster this change. This would cultivate better health literacy skills for individuals and the community as a whole. By becoming aware of what is available to them and how it affects their health would help communities properly advocate for their needs. Language is a huge barrier across many fields but especially the health field. Being able to translate medical information from English to another language can be tricky and sometimes is the reason individuals fall between the gaps in the healthcare system. Health literacy information such as brochures, posters, or flyers we see in doctor offices, should be available in the main languages of the community. Predatory marketing already targets vulnerable populations and with language being a barrier, immigrant communities are already at a loss. For example, fast food companies do this by having posters in certain languages, to get those language speakers to spend money at McDonalds instead of opting to go to the grocery store and be able to create a healthy meal. Being able to provide awareness about how eating healthy has an effect on one’s health would help communities resist predatory marketing strategies such as the fast food example and possibly advocate for healthier items for reasonable prices at local food retailers. I think social work research would provide better prevention measures for these communities and would consider other factors such as economic, social and environmental when working to find a solution for this challenge. There is definitely more need for social work research and how it plays out in this arena. Research would also bring different fields together to collaborate for this effort.

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