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Fighting Against the Stereotype

  1. Over 100,000 children are adopted in the US each year when they cannot safely return to their biological home. Those adoptions are arranged and facilitated by child welfare social workers.

  2. Currently over 400,000 children in the US in foster care due to some type of abuse and neglect or abandonment. Social workers facilitate the permanency outcome for each of those children.

  3. Over 683,000 children in the US in 2015 were abused and/or neglected. Social workers investigate each report to protect those children from further abuse.

  4. The stereotype that child welfare social workers are burned out uncaring state workers just in it for the money is totally inaccurate. I wont deny that their caseloads continue to be too high when you consider the complex nature of working with families that sometimes have buried generations of abuse. And the long hours, emotional impact and low compensation can lead to high turnover. (See future blog on the broken system.) But they dont enter the profession broken and tired. They come to Social Work with a mission to help families! Weekly Challenge: before you dismiss the important work going on across the US by these dedicated professionals, look at the big picture. So many fixate on one incident that was blamed on social worker error to form their bias against the entire profession. In my 31 years in social work I have seen a number of social workers who have had a child in their caseload die at the hands of abusive parents. What I can share with you is this: nothing the public can throw at them in the form of blame even comes close to what they pile on themselves. I hear the questions. What did I miss? Why didnt they tell me? Why did they lie to me about him being out of the house? What else could I have done? I have seen the anger, depression and self-blame on the faces of good workers, who saw the family regularly, talked with the children alone and even did home inspections. With all of their efforts, serious abuse still occurred. Dont get me wrong. One tragedy is one tragedy too many. There is absolutely no way to NOT experience outrage and extreme sadness over a child's injury or death. But focus that outrage on the perpetrator And the broken system. And appreciate those on the front line of child protection who go to work every day with a mission to improve the safety and well being of children and families.

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