Social Work Education

While the need for social workers trained in geriatrics is escalating, not enough social workers choose this career path. The Hartford Foundation began funding the Geriatric Social Work Initiative in 1999 to address the impending crisis of a growing older adult population being compounded by a shortage of geriatric social workers.

The aim of the Geriatric Social Work Initiative is to increase the competence of social workers to improve the care and well-being of older adults and their families. To accomplish this, the initiative employs innovative strategies aimed at educating all social workers in aging issues, recruiting more social work students to specialize in geriatrics, and supporting academic social workers who conduct research and teach. As a result, it has fostered a growing national network of social work faculty, students, academic administrators, and practitioners committed to gerontological social work and the quality of life of older adults and their families.

The GSWI collaborates with social work education programs to prepare social workers with gerontological competencies and improve the care and well-being of older adults and their families utilizing two main strategies:

1. Cultivate academic leaders in gerontological education and research
2. Transform social work education

At the core of the two strategies is leadership. It is crucial that social workers are not only trained in the field of aging but that they develop skills to become the leaders who will conduct research that is relevant to the aging population and educate and inspire future generations of social workers to care for older adults.