Social workers are often one of the first lines of defense against abuse and neglect for children and vulnerable adults. Every day, these selfless women and men work diligently and efficiently to help people who cannot help themselves. The importance of their service cannot be overstated, but the physical and emotional demands of social work can take a toll on even the most dedicated social worker.
Governor Sam Brownback has designated March as Social Work Month. Today, the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF), in partnership with KVC Kansas, held a conference for more than 500 social workers across the state, at KVC Kansas Headquarters, Olathe. The presentation featured noted motivational speaker and author Mary B. Lucas, who has inspired audiences worldwide to invest in themselves and make meaningful connections in all aspects of life.
“The work of social workers is so powerful and meaningful, and so linked to the connections they make with the people they work with,” Lucas said. “I’m sharing my father’s wisdom in the hopes that they will walk away inspired and think about, as they write the next chapter of their life, how they approach the relationships that are important to them.”
DCF, along with its contracted providers, employ nearly 1,000 social workers statewide. Social Work Month is a time to recognize the hard work of this challenging occupation. It’s also a time to call attention to the need to recruit and retain social workers to serve the children and families of Kansas.
“Social workers do what they do to enhance the lives of children and families,” DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore said today to the group. “Social workers always want to be there to help those who need it the most, but in order to do that, they must give of themselves on a daily basis. We realize the toll that has on social workers, and understand that there has to be a replenishment. I hope this inspirational conference helped to replenish your spirit, and remind you of the strong support system behind you.”
DCF Social Worker Ivy McMillan, Topeka, understands the crucial role that child and adult welfare professionals play in the community, and also understands the need to support them through the ups and downs of their work.
“[The event today] was a wonderful experience.” McMillan said. “Mary made me think about how we need to work with our parents and youth and how we can mesh those relationships with the contractors. It can be difficult, because you do have frustrations throughout the day, but we need to remember that we are a unit, we’re all one.”
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.
“We have a really strong support system at DCF,” McMillian said. “I think DCF is a great place to work. It’s a great place to begin your social work career. You get the training and job shadowing you need, and when you’re ready, you’re given your first case. Anyone going into child welfare should work at DCF.”
DCF is always looking for people who have a heart for serving vulnerable adults and children in Kansas. To learn more about becoming a social worker, and to view available positions, visit www.jobs.ks.gov
Noted speaker and author Mary B. Lucas shares her inspirational message with a group of social workers today, March 10, Olathe.