Bilingual social workers: Language and service complexities

David W. Engstrom, Lissette M. Piedra, Jong Won Min

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bilingual social workers deal with a range of language and service complexities. However, little is known about how their language skills are used by agencies. This paper reports on a qualitative study of the work experiences of 26 bilingual social workers in San Diego County. The findings suggest that agency administrators need to identify and test for the language skill set that bilingual workers need to possess. Moreover, bilingual workers need ongoing training to enhance their professional language skills. Finally, for the purpose of retention and workload equity, pay differentials and workload adjustments should be considered for bilingual workers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-185
Number of pages19
JournalAdministration in Social Work
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2009


  • Bilingual social workers
  • Language and social services
  • Limited English proficient (LEP) clients

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Administration


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