Dear Friends,

March is National Social Work Month and the official theme for 2015 is: “Social Work Paves the Way for Change.”

Social workers and child welfare professionals are amazing individuals! Every day I am privileged to serve among them and experience their compassion for children. They are to be credited for the countless lives that have been positively affected because of them, often at great personal expense. In my experience, this profession is more of a calling or a mission than a job. Child welfare professionals are in the business of restoring hope and changing lives; protecting children is one of the noblest professions one can chose and it is not an easy one.

The field of child welfare is challenging and complex, yet incredibly rewarding. I for one am inspired every day by the passion and dedication I see in our child protection professionals, care managers, staff, and partners here in Brevard County. They go far above and beyond to make a meaningful difference in the lives of vulnerable children and families.

Collectively, more effort and intention needs to be placed upon changing the public perception of child welfare professionals in order to increase awareness of the positive work the majority do each and every day. We often hear of the tragedies, but rarely do we hear the positive stories of those whose lives have been changed forever because of a social worker or child welfare professional’s impact in their life. This is a factor that research shows contributes to the high rate of turnover and burn out in the field which ultimately adversely impacts those we serve. So I thought it would be fitting for National Social Work Month to share a more in depth view of what a child protection staff member really does on a daily basis.

A child welfare professional is a counselor, comforter, coordinator, mediator, negotiator, educator, orator, and documenter. They must be meticulous with detail, timely, accessible, flexible, an advocate, firm but empathetic, understanding, and self-sacrificing. That means rising early, staying late, and at times working on weekends and holidays, all to ensure children are kept out of harm’s way.

There are children to visit, appointments to be made, assessments to conduct, placements to find, families to reach, court hearings to attend, caregivers in need, information to gather, reports to be written, calls to return, schools to visit, work to be monitored, crisis to respond to, needs to be met, transportation to be coordinated, comfort to give, hope to impart, child care to coordinate, medical, dental, and therapeutic appointments to occur, team meetings to attend, and documentation to complete.

As we recognize National Social Work Month, consider how these child protection staff members continue to provide inspiration and support to our most vulnerable children here in Brevard County. Together, let’s celebrate the courage, hope, and strength they provide by honoring them today and every day. For all that you do each and every day to “pave the way for change” we thank you! Please take the time to thank a social worker today.

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill