It is often said that becoming a parent is one of life’s most significant events, having the power to change a person in more ways than one. For Nicole George, a Limestone College social work student, the journey to motherhood inspired a new found love for children —one that would also help her discover a passion for working with them.
However, parenthood isn’t the only way to make a lasting impact in the lives of children. With a bachelor degree in social work you can focus on child welfare and enjoy the rewards that come from protecting children and becoming their advocate.
According to the guidelines published by the National Association of Social Workers, the child welfare services are “intended to protect children and their well-being, strengthen families, and provide permanency when children cannot safely remain with their families. Further, these services should be “strength based; family centered; trauma informed; and respectful of family’s culture, values, customs, beliefs and needs.”
Social workers who practice in this field, may receive reports from teachers, neighbors or others regarding a child’s behavioral issues or physical signs of neglect or abuse. In this case, a social worker will meet with the child to evaluate these signs, which may warrant a further look into the child’s home. Sometimes, the assessment of a child’s home will reveal no imminent danger, in which case a social worker may work with the family to remedy any other identified problems. This may include providing counseling, connecting a family to resources such as the welfare system or helping family members find employment and affordable housing.
However, in cases where danger to a child’s well being is recognized, a social worker may decide to remove a child from the home and arrange an alterative safe place to stay. Meanwhile the social worker will continue to work with the family to remedy the situation that necessitated the child’s removal so that the child may be reunited with his/her family.
As rewarding as protecting children from harm can be, social workers working in child welfare can also face difficult situations. For example, threats from family members who may be discontent with a social worker’s interventions may necessitate law enforcement involvement. In fact, according to the NASW survey of individuals working in child welfare, the most difficult aspect of work was “issues confronting families.”
To help students prepare for these challenges and more, Limestone College Social Work Program requires SW 301 Social Work Intervention: Individuals, Families, and Small Groups. This course provides focus on intervention and the nature of helping. It includes training on skills essential in child welfare practice including interviewing, establishing professional relationships, communication, recording, problem solving and more. Use of assessment skills that include knowledge regarding the use of genograms and ecograms in family assessment and treatment are also taught.