It's National Social Work Week, a chance for us to stop, reflect and celebrate the work that our social workers do. This year's theme is "Social Workers on the Front Line of Real Issues".
Our social workers are social justice professionals – outspoken advocates for the people and communities we serve, and champions for positive change. They seek equality for all people. They actively work to end poverty and domestic violence. They protect and ensure the safety of children and advocate for and help those most vulnerable. In truth, they are motivated by the desire to help others as well as the desire to change the world, one child, youth or family at a time.
In high school, I had a life changing experience. I went on a mission trip to Guyana and visited an orphanage to reach out to children. Instead, they touched my heart, changed my perspective and really made me consider advocacy and outreach work. It’s the reason I’m a social worker today.
In my role, I help children and youth who come into foster care achieve permanency by returning them to their family or a family member as soon as it is safe to do so. I engage with children and youth, and listen to their needs, while building rapport with families to come up with solutions, and empowering them to overcome barriers.
A few years ago I supported a very angry mother upset that her infant daughter had come into care. Elena* didn’t like me very much at first. But I grew on her and together we worked on a reunification plan that included counselling. Elena’s anger began to dissipate and she soon became focussed on what she needed to do to have her daughter return to her care, which happened a short time later. Sadly, Elena passed away a year ago and Mariana was placed with her father. The memory of this family stays with me. It gives me great joy to know that I had a positive impact on their lives.
*names have been changed