Social Workers Don’t Operate in a Vacuum – Articles of a Career Journal

I love the Opt Ed section of the paper. I believe we all need to write at least one letter on something we’re passionate about in our lifetime. In saying that, I applaud this reader and saved this piece to share with my students and anyone who invites me for an informational interview. Many individuals view the term social worker in a negative light. When I informed individuals I was going to graduate school to become a social worker, the overall  reply was “Seriously, you’re going  to the be the welfare lady from Claudine taking away someone’s children and cut off someone’s benefits?” I repeat, this profession of mine is rarely seen in a positive light, and needs more voices like Ivy.


The article “DSHS employees rarely pay a price for failing to protect foster children” earns the prize for superficiality and scandal-mongering. Going after social workers by name? Focusing on who was fired, or not fired? Do you have any idea what is involved in investigating a case and decision-making? It is rarely just one social worker; multiple decision points exist in every case, including social workers, supervisors, judges and attorneys.

CPS and related social workers deal with the most difficult and complex family situations outside of psychiatric hospitals and prisons. Challenging personalities and patterns of behavior, mental health, substance abuse, lack of education, poverty, and plain old lying are what confront social workers at every step. The huge majority of social workers navigate these challenges daily, a thousand times over, with safety of the child preserved.

Next time, have your reporter talk to the thousands of families whose children are returned safely, or never removed from their parents’ care, or nurtured safely in foster care. Present some balance, some depth, some understanding of the complexities of the issues. If missteps occur, analyze where judgment broke down. But don’t go on a vendetta against a rare few social workers.-Ivy Durslag


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4 Responses to Social Workers Don’t Operate in a Vacuum – Articles of a Career Journal

  1. For several years I chaired the county Foster Care Review Board. We served at the pleasure of the Juvenile Judge to review each case periodically and refer to court any cases where we had concerns. I have nothing but the highest regard for the DCS case workers, even though we would occasionally chastise them, because they were the face of the agency. In every case, the problem was that they were over-worked, under-paid, and under supported. It was never a case of lack of concern. My hat is off to Social Workers.

    Liked by 1 person

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