NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Charles W. Bates (1928 - 2016 )
Charles W. Bates his social work career in the summer of 1950 on 124th street in Harlem, New York where he lived and worked with neighborhood youth. His full time social work career began in 1952 as a case worker with Minnesota's Lake of the Woods County Welfare Department. Working in a very remote area of the state, it was necessary for him to visit his clients traveling by airplane or boat. He applied for and received a U.S. Children's Bureau Child Welfare Training Grant and attended Louisiana State University School of Social Work. After receiving his MSW in 1956, Bates returned to Minnesota to work as a Child Welfare Consultant and District Representative for the Department of Public Welfare.
Bates' social work career extended over 40 years, during which time he assumed increasingly responsible administrative positions, including appointments as the director of two large voluntary child welfare agencies (Milwaukee, WI and Boston, MA) and two public welfare departments (State of Ohio and Westchester County, NY). In every work setting, Bates demonstrated leadership qualities and an exceptional capacity to be innovative while fulfilling his professional commitment to help meet the needs of abused, neglected and dependent children, racial minorities, and recipients of public assistance. His leadership and administrative contributions had a direct and positive impact on the lives of thousands of dependent, abused, abandoned and neglected persons. His pioneering contributions also helped advance the state of the art in social welfare, especially in connection with child welfare, Medicaid, and public assistance. Bates also helped advance the profession of social work by presenting papers, delivering speeches and serving on numerous boards and commissions where he had the opportunity to share his knowledge and experiences with other professionals and the public.
Below are several illustrations of how Charles Bates, the social worker, made a contribution to improving the lives and conditions of some of our nation's most disadvantaged populations.
Bates also organized and promoted "Be Kid Conscious," a statewide child welfare initiative that attracted the attention of the public, including the Governor's wife. This initiative helped "sell" the state legislature on the need to allocate state funds for public child welfare, a first for Ohio.