In Praise of Public Workers - Children and Family Services
When the public hears “children’s protective services,” they think of social workers taking kids from their parents or the tragedies that befall kids the system failed to protect. But that’s not what the system is about. It is about providing services to rebuild families, transform troubled lives, and break the cycle of abuse. I saw social workers perform miracles in a system that is broken and dysfunctional from lack of funding and resources, where social workers barely have time for drive-by visits because of overwhelming caseloads.
These photos are part of an exhibit about the power of social work and public service, not just to help those in need, but to give a sense of purpose in life. They are about the value that comes from helping others. www.rb68.com/socialwork
When so many members of our society are suffering from emotional, economic, and mental health problems, it is ironic that the people trying desperately to provide services to those in need are denied the resources to help and then blamed for their inability to help by many of the very same people who are denying them those resources.
From 1995 to 2003 I worked for Service Employees International Union, Local 535, which at that time represented social services workers in California. I produced a newspaper called The Dragon. These photos were part of a campaign to increase funding for social services to reduce caseloads so that workers would have enough time and resources to help their clients.
In spite of the lack of resources, I saw social workers do amazing things, transforming lives and rebuilding families. I saw them prove that people can help other people. I also saw that the government has the potential to help those in need and to create a better society. But to do this, the government has to provide the resources for social services workers to fulfill their mandate.
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