Recognizing Social Workers
- Author: Austin Griffiths
- Author: Tuesday, March 26th, 2019
It's finally March in Kentucky, and we all know what that means. Nope, sorry, we’re not talking about basketball. March is Social Work Month—an annual opportunity to spotlight those who are dedicated to helping others to reach their full potential. The theme in 2019 “Elevate Social Work” is an appropriate way to recognize this honorable profession.
Social work is often portrayed inaccurately and at times is misunderstood. The profession is comprised of diverse individuals who have chosen a line of work where they are constantly helping others in their time of need. Although social workers may have a variety of life experiences, they are all agents of change. They are advocates who believe that it’s not acceptable to stick one’s head in the sand when others are hurting. Social workers follow a Code of Ethics, endorsing six core values of service, social justice, dignity and worth of the individual, the importance of human relationships, integrity and competence.
March is a great opportunity to elevate social work, and I’d like to spotlight those amazing social workers who serve in Kentucky's child welfare system. As a former child welfare worker in Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services, I have had the privilege of witnessing the selfless nature of the Commonwealth’s finest in action. These professionals operate on the front-lines and are often the last line of defense between children and their safety. The job is difficult as child welfare workers have to contend with bureaucracy, red tape and liability. They navigate the intersection of legislation, policy, and practice. They have to make decisions in real time that have a direct impact on human lives. They are courageous and resilient—and often their efforts are unnoticed by the public.
Why do they do it? Some say that it’s a calling. Others mention that their own life experiences brought them into this line of work. One thing is for certain, we are fortunate to have these helping professionals working in our communities.
This March, let’s elevate social work by first acknowledging that we all share responsibility for our nation’s children. And then let’s follow the leadership of those who have dedicated their lives to mitigating harm and improving the well-being of children and families by offering our support and appreciation. Let's recognize this vital professional of child welfare workers and their significant contributions to our society. Child welfare belongs to us all!
Dr. Austin Griffiths is an Assistant Professor in Western Kentucky University’s Department of Social Work. He is a former child welfare worker in Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services.