Social workers often get a pretty bad rap. They're construed as hateful women in business suits who come into your home and snatch up your children. Television stigmatizes them to be heartless, and it makes it so hard to make people truly understand how valuable their roles are.
But social workers are everywhere, and you may not even realize how many you run into on a daily basis.
In fact, sometimes, social workers aren't called "social workers." And maybe they have different titles, but the work is all the same.
Here are some places those hidden social workers might be found.
Social workers are always there in hospitals, not only to make assessments on patients and determine their mental statuses, but also to help families process difficult illnesses and get them set up with care when they leave the hospital.
They provide grief counseling and help families deal with the loss of loved ones. They're there to comfort and heal, as well as prepare people for their next steps.
It's hard to apply for food stamps or to admit when you need help, and you might not recognize those tired workers pushing papers behind a desk. But without them, life would be very, very different.
Those workers are also the ones fighting the government to make sure you can get everything you need.
That's right! It's not just about fostering and rescuing kids. Social workers are there for pet welfare as well.
Animals have rights, and social workers are there to fight for them!
Churches are full of social workers — everyone who volunteers to take food to people, those who sit in hospitals with those who are sick or those who help others pay their bills.
Those who constantly fight for the needs of others are everyday social workers. Ministers and nuns were the very first social workers, and they opened the door for so much charitable good in the world.
The Legal Justice System
The legal justice system is a tough one to navigate. Some social workers work with the probation officers to help provide youth or adults with services to help promote recidivism.
Sometimes, they do in-home visits with at-risk youth to prevent them from returning to juvenile detention centers. Some social workers are the counselors in prisons and detention centers, helping people cope with past traumas that led up to their incarceration.
They are what stands between people and new crimes. They teach preventive measures and help people heal from the inside out.
Social workers are there to consult with women on their needs. They'll set them up with an appointment with the doctor or refer them to an obstetrician. They coordinate women's needs on a daily basis, and they make sure they're in the best, healthiest states.
Where does all the food come from in a food pantry? How is the supply sustained?
These are things that social workers constantly think about, and they apply for the grants and federal funding to ensure that this resource is available to the public. Not only that, but they also ensure that pantries are easily accessible in the most needed neighborhoods.
The facilities don't open themselves, and they're not opened by the government. A social worker had to plant the seed first.
Social workers are all over the court system. Sometimes, they're public defenders or guardians ad litem for youth in foster care. Other times, they show up as victims' advocates or CASA.
They play a pivotal role in the legal system, helping people navigate the difficult legal jargon and understand their rights. They not only fight for the people, but they teach people to have the ability to fight for themselves, which is the most important form of advocacy.
Social Workers in schools are very busy. They advocate for kids in IEP meetings, make hotline calls for children being abused or neglected, help resolve behavioral issues, are there for kids having emotional issues, help coordinate plans with families for school lunches, homework or transportation, and so much more.
Oftentimes, their names aren't even mentioned. But they do a lot behind the scenes to makes sure each child gets what they need every single day.
Homeless shelters and soup kitchens can be a tired place, and they often feel kind of cold, like there's never enough to go around.
But one day, a social worker dreamed up the idea to open that place to serve so many disadvantaged people. Regardless of how it feels, they're there to offer a needed service, and they work hard to make sure there is funding to keep it going.
There are so many different types of rehabilitation centers. Maybe it's for substance abuse, or maybe it's a facility to overcome traumatic brain injuries or a place to get physical therapy.
No matter the type of rehabilitation center, social workers are the ones coordinating care plans and helping people get appointments. They track progress and development, and in substance abuse centers, they provide inpatient and outpatient substance abuse counseling and run groups. They are the therapists and care coordinators for these facilities.
This one may not be anyone's favorite, but it is certainly needed. Unfortunately, there truly are children out there that are abused or neglected. Social workers are the ones that stay out late, making sure children are safe.
They carry heavy caseloads of 20 or more kids, and they fight for the needs of each one. They provide services to birth parents and try to help them get their lives on track. They work with teenagers and fight for them to have bright futures. They help them apply to colleges and make future plans. They take kids shopping for clothing or school supplies. They help new families develop and complete adoptions.
They save and protect so many little ones, and the world could not function without them.
Social workers aren't just those that have the label. They're the people who recognize needs in others and fight for them. They're the ones fighting for everyone else's rights, not just their own.
Social workers are advocates for equality and agents of change. I hope you can truly acknowledge and appreciate their roles and start recognizing them in your daily life. Because you need them.