As a practicing social worker and a supervisor to social work students, I take a lot of pride in the profession. Social workers play the role of researchers, advocates, mediators, therapists, brokers, and many, many more identities that involve empowering individuals and groups.
As we consider the role social workers play in Kentucky, consider where you see social workers in action: schools, hospitals, substance abuse treatment centers, universities, and in the halls of our state Capitol building. They play a vital role in advocating for vulnerable populations all across our state whether that is reflected in statewide policy, like in House Bill 1, or in practice like the many members of the staff of Family Resource and Youth Service Centers (FRYSC).
House Bill 1 addresses the critical role that social workers play in keeping kids safe and in stable environments when they come to the attention of the Department for Community Based Services (DCBS). The bill includes provisions to ensure caseloads are manageable and are addressed when they become unmanageable. The proposed executive branch budget (House Bill 200) that recently passed the Kentucky Senate—first introduced by the Governor and retained by the House—shows a commitment to ensuring frontline social workers who work with our most vulnerable youth are adequately compensated and that measures are taken to recruit additional workers.
In our communities and throughout our commonwealth, we must recognize the hard work that those in the field are part of every day. Like Drs. Jay Miller and Ann Vail from the University of Kentucky suggest, “take time to celebrate and honor the work and contributions of social workers — not just this month, but every month. Because, although the months may change, social workers will continue to steadfastly answer the call to meet the needs of Kentuckians, strengthen our communities and enhance human well-being.”