10 Surprising Things You Didn't Know About Social Workers

10 Surprising Things You Didn't Know About Social Workers

March is National Social Work Month and KVC is joining the National Association of Social Workers to recognize the powerful, positive impact social workers have on their clients and their communities! Social workers across the globe work hard to ensure all people are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. We celebrate and appreciate our incredible team of social workers who do life-changing work with children and families every single day at KVC.

Many people experience overwhelming challenges such as mental illness, trauma, addiction, poverty, homelessness, unemployment and more every day. Luckily, highly-trained, caring professionals are ready and willing to help these people overcome difficult obstacles and live a healthy, successful life.

Social workers and other helping professionals provide crucial support to children, adults and families in need. Social work is not an easy field to work in, but the job is extremely rewarding and full of meaning. Here are 10 things you didn’t know about social workers:

Having a passion for helping others is important, but being a social worker requires so much more. People who are experiencing the most vulnerable time in their lives rely on social workers to connect them with resources and find solutions to complex problems. Social workers use their skills and expertise to promote good mental health, strengthen relationships, and end generational cycles of trauma and substance use, ultimately creating healthier families and communities.

Being a social worker is not going to make you financially rich. Many professionals are drawn to the field because they are passionate about helping others and doing meaningful work. That said, social workers deserve competitive compensation packages for the valuable contributions they make. At KVC, we continually look for ways to increase pay, benefits, training and support to attract and retain the very best social workers.

In the U.S., child welfare services are provided or managed by the government agency in each state. These agencies investigate reports of abuse and neglect, and work closely with the court system to decide whether or not to remove a child from their home. While social workers do provide their professional perspective, ultimately a judge decides whether the child needs out-of-home care. Social workers then provide services to the family in order to resolve conflicts or disruptions and teach healthy skills so children can safely return home.

Social work is a broad, diverse field where the work extends across many settings. These professionals work with individuals, families, schools, universities, nonprofit agencies, corporations, hospitals and government agencies. They are also active in politics at all levels. Social workers advocate for legislation and policies that improve the quality of life for children and adults.

According to a study conducted by HealthAffairs, professional social workers are estimated to be the largest group of mental health service providers in the United States. In fact, social workers are often the only mental health care providers in many rural and remote communities. There are more clinically trained social workers than psychiatrists, psychologists and psychiatric nurses combined.

There is no typical day for a social worker. Social work professionals spend most of their time out in the community rather than in an office. Their schedule often consists of attending court hearings, meeting with clients, supervising visits, completing training and advocating for their clients’ needs.

Making decisions that impact peoples’ lives is a huge responsibility for social workers. Above all, safety is the number one driver of those decisions. Most social workers collaborate with families, fellow staff members and other stakeholders to explore all possibilities and make well-informed decisions. At KVC, social workers use a framework called Safe & Connected™ which provides a structured way to make decisions with and for the children and families served by the child welfare, juvenile justice and related systems.

Maintaining physical, mental and emotional health is vital for everyone, but self-care is an essential practice for social workers. The likelihood of job fatigue is very high in this field. Many organizations require social workers to schedule self-care activities that reduce stress and mitigate burnout.

Many think women dominate the social work field. However, there are lots of male social workers and many are in leadership positions. The country needs more men in the social work field. Social work requires a balanced, diverse mix of people able to help a diverse population. 

The demand for mental/behavioral health and substance use treatment is increasing in the midst of a well-documented national social worker shortage. Fewer social workers mean higher caseloads, burnout and turnover as well as decreased quality of services. More experienced social workers are needed and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of social workers will grow 11% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.

If social work sounds like a career for you, visit www.kvc.org/careers to view our open positions! You can enrich and enhance the lives of children and families in crisis and make a positive impact every single day.