Saturday, February 20, 2021

Prepare Yourself for a Career in Social Work

I wanted to create a blog about my experience as a social worker employed in the public sector. I was uncertain whether I wanted to really write about the job's challenges because I did not want to discourage others from considering a social worker position with a public organization. However, I not only wanted to share the challenges I experienced but also the rewards. I also want to prepare future social workers for some of the issues encountered while working in the public sector.

While growing up in the inner city full of poverty, I witnessed domestic violence, high murder rates, and drug abuse. At a young age, I realized that I wanted to help the people in my community, especially the children. I witnessed children suffering from their parents' negligence and the disregard for their safety, emotional and physical health by exposing them to their drug use and violent behaviors.

At around 16 years old, I used to go through the neighborhood on early weekend mornings, gathering the children because the weekends were when their parents' partied the most. These parties included drugs and violence.  I wanted to save these children. I wanted them to have a refuge, a place where they were safe and protected.  I never knew about the social work profession, but looking back, I feel that I was a social worker in the making.

When entering college at 17 years old, I was unsure of what career path I should take. I only knew that it had to involve working to help children in some type of way. I first thought of being a pediatric nurse. After taking biology for the medical field and the fear of giving a shot to someone, I decided that field was not for me. Then I thought of being a child psychologist, but at that time, I felt I needed a career that did not require me to be in school for a long time. I decided to be a teacher.

I worked with preschool-age children for a while and decided to move into the public sector. So, while scanning the county job announcements, I noticed an opening for a Child Support Department position. Initially, I thought I was making a significant impact in getting the children the financial support they needed to meet their basic needs. That was great for a while, but I asked myself, "Is this enough? Am I really helping children?" After working in that department for 5 years, I realized I was just a bill collector. I desired a position that involved working closely with families in situations where children were at risk. I wanted to keep children safe as I did when I was that young girl. So, I applied to be a social worker.

Once I started my career as a social worker, I experienced and witnessed the challenges of being a social worker and employed with a public agency. 

There has been a cycle of child welfare social work burnout due to job demands, stress, and inadequate supervision. There has no appearance of any resolution of the issues causing staff burnout.

Those interested in this career should not be discouraged but should be prepared to learn how to prevent or deal with all the possible impacts the job can have. This includes the effects on their personal lives and the lives of the people they serve. 

I further believe that the child welfare organization leaders are part of the driven force responsible for ensuring a supportive and healthy work environment. Management must take some responsibility to initiate ways to make work more manageable for staff and adhere to staff's needs and feedback. It is also essential that social workers recognize their limits, feelings of being overwhelmed and practice self-care. They should also feel appreciated, supported, and encouraged. After all, social workers should be pleased with what they do. 

So, this blog was created to share the rewards and challenges associated with the social work profession. Also, to be able to share in a supportive environment and to discuss other issues related to social work.



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