By Crystal Willis and Shontelle Davis, MSSW Interns at Kentucky Youth Advocates
Although the field of social work is broad, we all have one common goal – to leave this place BETTER than we found it! The role of a social worker is to identify and address the needs of individuals, families, and communities. Social workers take on many roles that include advocating, educating, researching, lobbying, case management, therapy, and much more.
March is Social Work Month and there’s no better time to support social workers than now! These past two years dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, Kentucky kids and their families have relied on social workers in many ways. Social workers have provided teletherapy sessions, helped individuals access services, educated communities, and much more. Social workers have been on the front line in schools, hospitals, community organizations, and in Frankfort to ensure the voices of Kentucky residents are heard.
As social work students, we are excited to see the field of social work receiving the support that it deserves from elected leaders through policy and systems level change.
During the current legislative session, we have seen that the Governor, the House, and the Senate all agree that now is the time to invest in our state social workers in their budget proposals. The Kentucky General Assembly has recognized that their pay needs to be increased and we need more workers on the frontlines to be able to provide the best services possible for kids and their families. House Bill 1, the two-year state budget proposal, shows a commitment to appropriately compensate frontline state social workers and hire more staff as needed.
The Senate proposed a pay increase for social workers, as well as a social work alternative work program. This program is intended to provide Social Service Worker classification personnel, who have completed a minimum of four years of service, a period of respite from their regular duties while remaining employees of the Commonwealth. These activities may include service as a classroom substitute teacher, volunteerism, or other approved activities.
As the Conference Committee is making final budget deliberations, we hope to see the focus on retaining social workers, giving them adequate pay, and showing appreciation is at the forefront of our legislators’ minds.
This post is part of the blog series, Intern Insights.