Show Some Love to Social Workers Month!

March is National Professional Social Work Month

Social workers are unsung heroes in our community. Unless you are in the trenches of foster care, (which so few are) you might not know that social workers have a thankless, disturbing, and overwhelming amount of work to do each day. Just this past week a caseworker was at my home at 9pm one night, and then again at 7pm another night bringing my beloved foster child home.

Social workers are a gateway for many families in crisis to receive much needed services to repair their families. They are also the first point of contact for a foster child, guardian ad litem, and foster parents who are all working together to care for an abused or neglected child.

Caseworkers are expected to take a work week with 173 hours and cram about 300 hours of work into that week. Caseworkers at DSS often have at least 30 children/families to serve. That may not sound like too many except that due to our shortage of foster homes half or more of those children are not able to reside in the county where the case began/caseworker lives and works. Since a worker is expected to visit children monthly this is at least 80 hours a week spent visiting and traveling. If a child is forced to be placed in Columbia or Charleston, which is happening regularly, a caseworker might spend an entire day traveling to visit a child and family. Next, he/she is expected to visit biological families 2 times per month and if it takes 3 hours (add in travel) another 180 is spoken for. Social workers also must prepare for court and attend court hearings, which is at least 10 hours a month. Foster Care Review Board hearings will also consume another 6 hours a month. So far, a case worker has not completed one ounce of paperwork, finished required training, returned calls and emails, had a staff meeting, or taken time to eat lunch.

Next, imagine doing all this work while foster parents, biological parents, and sometimes politicians are not very happy with the work you are able to accomplish each day. You can quickly see how it is hard to find and keep an excellent caseworker.

Now, layer on that social workers might have been on call the night before losing hours of sleep and/or dealing with traumatic abuse and neglect that is personally upsetting. I have known caseworkers that stopped their work for hours to hang out at a park spending time with a traumatized child while placement workers call foster parents and group homes looking for a safe haven for the night, week, or best case scenario long-term. I have seen a caseworker in tears when she left my home since my new addition was clinging to her arms and then legs at almost midnight, as she left him with a stranger, me.

When caseworkers give up, a child loses. It’s simple; It is another person who they depended upon and needed, that is no longer there in their life. Next time they have a visit with their biological parent, another new face will pick them up. They have to learn to trust another stranger.

Please consider helping Fostering Faithfully show some love to our Oconee County social workers! Encourage them! Give them a gift card to a fast food restaurant to take a child to lunch or grab dinner on the road. Consider foster parenting in your community to keep them off the interstate! Be kind and patient with them. You can also help by donating funds to help us offer them a meal and some tokens of appreciation during the year!


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