Zeke Morgan, a recent dual-degree graduate of the Baylor School of Social Work, shared with us his experience as a professional working in the field of nonprofit/government social work. In 2017 Zeke graduated with his master's in social work and in 2018 he earned his MBA. Zeke is currently working in Waco, Texas as a Homeless Program Analyst.
Here is what he had to say about his day-to-day in the profession.
My Life As a Homeless Program Analyst
I work for the City of Waco, and on behalf of the Heart of Texas Homeless Coalition (HOTHC) as a Homeless Program Analyst. My daily work varies greatly, which is part of what keeps my job interesting. Together with another analyst, we make up the city’s current response to homelessness. We do a lot of system design in an attempt to make all types of homelessness rare, brief, and a one-time experience.
The HOTHC is a combination of many of the homeless service providers in our area. Together we collaborate and combine our services to be as comprehensive as possible in what we can provide, as we work to house the homeless. This unique government/nonprofit partnership gives us access to both the agencies working with our local homeless neighbors, as well as a voice in the policy decisions that affect some of our most vulnerable citizens.
The Role of Data in Social Work
One of my biggest daily tasks is to maintain and operate our Homeless Management Information System. This is a local database utilized to coordinate care and necessary treatment for our homeless neighbors. I spend a large part of my day sorting and sifting through data.
Data and social work are two fields that most people don’t usually associate with each other, but they are becoming more and more intertwined. Every social worker is passionate about people and values the relationships and rapport built as we strive to better the world.
Data does not get in the way of social work, but rather it is what allows us to measure outcomes and compare programs, to see if we’re doing things well. It gives us insight and hard facts on top of the intuition and relationships that we value so highly. Data and social work are complementary and we should never try to replace one with the other, but lean into both aspects simultaneously.
The Best Part of My Job
Trainings are one of the best parts of my job as they allow me to reconnect with people and provide insight into the systematic and policy changes that we need to work to build. These are the times our team builds relationships and grounds our work in the experience of the community.
Trainings can be centered on anything from training users on aspects of our system, such as how to input data or generate local reports, to helping individuals understand systemic changes, like a totally new program designed to make the process of housing individuals a quicker and more efficient experience. Basically, we get to help the helpers and ensure that we are maximizing our impact by researching best practices and collaborating with the direct service providers.
Reports — Not As Enjoyable, But Definitely Necessary
Every social worker has to compile reports. While I don’t enjoy the reporting aspect of my job as much as the trainings and personal interactions, the time I spend in the community always reminds me of the importance of maintaining good data and evaluation of our programs.
Without that tediousness, we could very easily become complacent in our drive to end homelessness. Reports also tell us which interventions and programs are working and which ones aren’t. Further, they help to enhance our communication as an organization. Reports are how agencies are able to hold each other accountable and learn from each other.
My Bottom Line
Our collaborative environment has been a huge strength of the HOTHC and fills me with pride as I get to watch all of the members share their successes. Serving as part of a bigger team is a great reminder of what drew me to social work in the first place — creating community and safety for those that have been excluded or taken advantage of. When I put everything into this perspective, reporting doesn’t seem so bad, and I see the value and joy in all the work I do.