TOPEKA – The Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF), along with its contracted providers, employs nearly 1,000 social workers statewide. These professionals work daily to protect vulnerable children and adults from abuse and neglect. Governor Sam Brownback has designated March as Social Worker Month, a time to recognize the tireless commitment of those who take on this challenging occupation. It’s a time also to call attention to the need to retain and recruit social workers to serve the State of Kansas.
“As a licensed social worker, I know the many difficulties and rewards that come with this line of work,” DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore said. “We are working hard to attract more caring and compassionate social workers to join our Prevention and Protection Services team.”
DCF typically has approximately 50 vacant social worker positions, which it struggles to fill. Some of the most challenging areas to fully staff include the agency’s Wichita and West regions. DCF uses a wide range of recruitment strategies to attract social workers, including partnerships with Kansas colleges. The agency also has a Recruitment and Retention Workgroup that is tasked with helping solve social worker staffing needs.
DCF Social Worker Michelle Droegemeier, Topeka, knows first-hand the importance of social work. (photo below)
“We see some of the most disturbing circumstances that will break your heart,” Droegemeier said. “But we are in a critical position to work with families in crisis, by offering struggling parents help and offering children hope. There is nothing more rewarding than to know that you have helped save a child’s life.”
Droegemeier has experience working in the field as a social worker. She has also worked in the Kansas Protection Report Center, where reports of abuse and neglect are first made. She was recognized by the Governor on Feb. 25, when the Governor signed the Social Work Month proclamation.
Droegemeier encourages those interested in this profession to consider State service.
“You have the ability to help change lives for the better; I love what I do.”
To become a social worker, individuals must graduate from an accredited university with at least a bachelor’s degree in social welfare. They must also pass a licensure exam and maintain the license with 40 hours of continuing education, every two years.
(Left to right: Michelle Droegemeier, Theresa Freed, Governor Brownback, KDADS Secretary Kari Bruffett, Gina Meier-Hummel, Jaime Rogers)