Social Workers Are The Most Misunderstood Heroes Of This World
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Social Workers Are The Most Misunderstood Heroes Of This World

Social workers deserve way more credit than we get

Social Workers Are The Most Misunderstood Heroes Of This World

In honor of social work month, I want to enlighten people about what social workers really do and who we are.

Social workers are advocates, fighters, helpers and doers who believe that all humans deserve to have dignity, respect, integrity and a fair chance at a healthy, successful and happy life.

I am graduating in late June with my Master of Social Work from Western Michigan University. My scope of practice is Interpersonal Practice and I am pursuing a School Social Work certificate.

If I had a dollar for every time a person said "Oh, so you take people's kids away?" when I tell them that I'm becoming a social worker, I could probably pay off about a quarter of my student loans. In fact, if I had a dollar for every time someone told me that I won't make a lot of money or that it will be stressful, I could pay off at least half of my student loans.

Not. All. Social. Workers. Work. For. CPS. (Child Protective Services). In fact, the CPS "social workers" you hear about that make numerous mistakes or are incompetent didn't go to college to become social workers; more often than not, they graduated college with a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice or Psychology. Since there is frequently a lack of jobs in both of those fields, they didn't have many options and opted to take a job as a CPS worker for their local Department of Health & Human Services. They weren't trained to be social workers, they don't know about the Code of Ethics we abide by, the expensive and rigorous licensing progress we have to go through and the continuing education we are required to pursue by law in order to keep our licensing and stay informed on policies, practices, and laws that are always in a process of change or transformation. Also, each state has different licensing and examination requirements.

There are more than one type of social worker. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are some examples of the following types of social workers:

-Child and Family Social Workers

-School Social Workers (the type of social worker that I want to become)

-Healthcare Social Workers

-Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers

That's only a few types of social workers. Recently, some law firms are beginning to hire social workers to help with mediation between families. Social workers work in prisons and can serve as administrators or supervisors for non-profits, agencies and organizations. Forensic social workers are social workers who work in the criminal justice system and deal with issues pertaining to law, criminal matters or issues related to policy and social justice.

After I graduate, I must take an exam through the ASWB (Association of Social Work Boards) so I can obtain my LLMSW (Limited License Master of Social Work), then I must meet with a supervisor who has their LMSW (Licensed Master of Social Work) for one hour per week and obtain at least 4,000 hours of supervision to get my LMSW. I will also take CEs (continuing education) courses in order to keep my license and I must renew it every three years. Essentially I will be doing homework and taking classes for the rest of my life so I can stay competent and aware of practices, policies, treatments and laws as a social worker.

I know that my future profession isn't going to pay me more than $80,000 a year or will be a walk in the park, but what I do know is that I'm meant to become a social worker because I want to help people who are suffering and need help. I want to advocate for universal healthcare, equality, women's reproductive rights, the LGBTQ community, a strong public education system. I want to know that I made a difference in the life of a person and gave them a reason to believe in themselves and know their worth as a human being.

Some people might wonder why I am going into a profession that frequently has a high level of compassion fatigue, long hours and low pay. I want to become a social worker because I didn't have a great childhood. I want to help the kids in schools who don't have a great home life, struggle with depression/anxiety or are experiencing some type of adversity that affects their learning and personal growth. I wish I would have had a school social worker to help me when I was a child in need, but I feel good knowing that I can be the school social worker who can help a child in need. Schools need social workers, hospitals need social workers, law firms need social workers; the world needs social workers.

Happy Social Work month to my fellow future, current and former social workers. Thank you for being courageous, compassionate and badass human beings.

"I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody."
- Lily Tomlin

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