Social Worker Appreciation Month

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Social Worker Appreciation Month

  • By: Ben Ramsey

March is Social Worker Appreciation Month, and setting a month aside to celebrate and appreciate these professionals is simply not enough. The fact of the matter is, these underpaid and overworked professionals are not only underappreciated, but are often the recipients of intense scorn. This article will focus on CPS social workers, but all social workers deserve a tremendous amount of appreciation. 

In my nearly 23 years of practicing law, I have gained a unique perspective of CPS social workers. I have been both on the outside and inside of this world during that time. Initially, it was as a family law attorney where many individuals in the family law world did not have even a rudimentary understanding of the complex practice area of juvenile dependency. At that time, I viewed CPS as the evil empire on the third floor of the William Ridgeway Family Relations Courthouse of the Sacramento Superior Court. Following that period of time, I primarily served as minor’s counsel in Lassen County and had the advantage of working with the extremely competent Lassen County Child and Family Services, excellent county counsel, and an extremely knowledgeable judicial officer. I also represented several parents during this time. 

When I began my employment with Prentice|Long, PC, I was provided the opportunity to represent various child welfare agencies through the judicial proceedings. From my observations, I have concluded that CPS social workers’ commitment and dedication to the well-being of the children they are charged with protecting, is remarkable.

CPS social workers experience things that most people simply could not imagine. I thought I knew, but I was not even close. These social workers go into homes that can be unsanitary and unsafe. They work upon call - sometimes in the middle of the night, and even on holidays. They investigate and document horrendous accounts of sexual and physical abuse, and do so in a professional, clinical manner so that the court will have the information needed to ensure the safety of the child and possibly other siblings. Social workers may also be tasked with investigating child fatalities, which is heartbreaking. 

There are also older children in the CPS system, many of whom have never been given a chance to have a normal life. The social workers assigned to these children are often the only individuals watching out for them as they move through placement after placement.

Social workers primarily work with an indigent population who lack transportation and the ability to pay for the basic life necessities. This often means that the parents are unable to travel to and from visitation with their children, other reunification services being provided, and court proceedings. Social workers, social service aides, and other personnel often transport the parents to and from visitations and court proceedings, sometimes driving several hours each way in order to do so.  It is quite common for a social worker involved with a highly conflicted matter to take the time to drive and pick up the parent or parents for court, and then return them home afterwards.  During those court proceedings, it is not uncommon for social workers to be accused of lying, incompetence, and engaging in the conspiracy to remove children from their parents for “no reason.” 

The question is, why would anyone choose this profession? My time here at PLPC has answered this question. These professionals are committed to helping children. It is that simple. There may be disagreement with regard to what that actually means among the parties involved and society in general, but CPS social workers are in this profession because they want to help children. This is why they endure many things that most of us simply could not imagine enduring once let alone on a daily basis. I have yet to encounter a CPS social worker who does not care about children and is not trying to get it right.  Most parents who fully participate in family reunification services do get their children back -- there are happy endings, and the parents almost always thank “their social worker.” At the Law firm of Prentice|LONG PC, we are extremely grateful to the many social workers the firm works with, and that they are doing this challenging and important work for our children.