An Ode to Everyone Working In Social Work

An Ode to Everyone Working In Social Work

When I was a teenager, I got myself placed into foster care. My parents weren’t doing their job, so I reached out to my oldest sister. She helped me contact social services and get placed with her foster parents. In America, unless there are clear signs of abuse, it is almost impossible to take a child out of their home. Many children lie when asked by authorities about what is going on in the home. They lie because they are scared of repercussions, change, and other reasons.

I was pretty lucky to be placed with a great family, but not everyone is so lucky. The people that got me through all the court time, fights with my foster parents and biological parents, and a lot of other things were my social workers, one specific social worker.

A Little About the Social Work Life

Her name is Sara. She was the supervisor of my social work team. She went above and beyond her job. You know, people say a lot of different things about social workers. I have heard that they don’t do a good job, they get paid really horribly, and that they are overworked. Mostly, these statements are true. Most social workers go to school for four years or more to be able to do a job that is stressful, very low-paying and demanding. 

Of course not every social worker is not paid well and overworked. But the majority are. The truth is, there are just way too many people in the system. The people that need the help of social workers aren’t only foster children, they range from hospital patients to disabled adults. It is hard work to deal with difficult adults or children on a daily basis and not get compensated properly. And even if someone does become a social worker, that doesn’t mean they will do a good job. I had some not-so-good social workers too. That is why there aren’t a lot of people who want to be social workers.

A care package from Sara reminding me of my home, Wisconsin.

So Why Do It?

I keep asking myself why people become social workers. I understand wanting to help other people. I really do. But to be treated the way they are treated and then get almost nothing in return is baffling. Most people who go into social work are angels. They are the full-time good samaritans of the world. They spend years helping others and take home people’s pain on a daily basis. Even though they are taught to compartmentalize, they are still human. If you are a social worker, please share in the comments why you decided to go into and stay in this profession. I would love to hear from you.

Going Above and Beyond

My angel was Sara Waldschmidt. She made sure to take me under her wing and make sure that I’d be alright. She spent hours with me. She took me for outings and helped me with whatever I needed. She spent time on a regular basis helping my foster parents and me learn how to communicate with each other. I grew up in a home where I wasn’t allowed to have an opinion, so I kept quiet. 

Living with my foster parents, I had to learn to communicate like a normal human being. I had to learn how to talk about my day and talk about my grades. I would yell at my foster parents telling them that they should stop bothering me and everything was good. They weren’t my real parents, so they should stop trying to act like it. I was a selfish idiot back then. I have come a long way from being that person.  

A Constant Fixture in My Life

The most recent care package Sara sent me.

Throughout the years, Sara has always been there for me. I’ve asked her for advice. She’s sent me gifts. Even now, she isn’t my social worker anymore, she’s still there for me. And she doesn’t even work as a social worker anymore, she’s a lawyer. She’s sent me multiple care packages to the Netherlands. That kind of care is something really unique. I will always be eternally grateful for everything she and my foster parents have done for me, starting with being patient and not giving up on me. 

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Why do you do what you do?

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