I have worked in human services and social work for the entirety of my 21 year career. I've done everything from community outreach to grant writing to evaluation to case management to supervising numerous different types of social workers, etc., etc., etc.
During all of these years, my passion for social work has continued to grow. At the same time, I have had a healthy and equally passionate interest in technology. I've done stuff like video editing, built web pages, and plenty of other stuff. Most recently I've gotten into the exciting new world of "bots" ( see the Silicon Valley Foster Home Information Assistant ) .
Something that is fairly well known in the field of Social Work is that we are woefully behind in terms of integrating technology into our profession. In recent years there have been efforts to change this, but as far as I can tell, we still have a ways to go.
The Social Work Mentor (SWM) is one of the projects I am working on that bridges the gap between technology and social work. In California, other places around the United States, as well as globally, organizations are moving towards "standardized" practice models that allow practitioners to get back to doing what they came into the profession for...social work. At the same time, these practice models attempt to ensure that the approach taken by social workers is as consistent as possible so that individuals and families receive the same quality of service, no matter who is serving them.
When you use the Social Work Mentor, you will notice that it offers "suggestions" of how practitioners may want to approach certain scenarios, without actually telling them what to do. This allows for a professional to use their own professional and clinical judgement, while at the same time adhering to a structure or model that can provide consistency of practice as the model(s) becomes more and more widespread.
One of the most significant things about the Social Work Mentor is the accessibility that it provides. Traditionally, Social Workers go to trainings and are given binders of information, PowerPoint presentations, or just random handouts, and are then expected to remember the information, or run back to the office and spend time thumbing through the many pages, dividers, and stapled sets of packets jumbled together in their bookshelves or file cabinets, just to find the one nugget of information they are looking for.
On the rare occasion that technology is utilized as a tool in social work, it is usually done so in a way that presents what is known as "encyclopedic content", which is basically just an exact replica of the information provided in the old binder/PowerPoint system...word for word, just in a digital format. Basically, scanned pages on a cell phone of dense, detailed, long winded information. Don't get me wrong, there is definitely a place and a need for this format in certain scenarios. This is NOT, however, the approach used by the Social Work Mentor.
The SWM instead integrates information, tools, theories, behaviors, etc. in a way that is specific to a given scenario and "flows" in a way that a practitioner can use it as a guide or "mentor" while out in the field, back at the office, in supervision, in a conversation with a colleague, etc.
As of this writing, the Social Work Mentor is currently in version 1.1. There will be more functionality added to the tool in the future based on feedback from users and the professional guidance of my development team. But for now, play with the tool, see how it works for you, subscribe to our blog and for our updates, and like our Facebook page
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