Editor’s note: Gloria Questel is the social services director for Wayne County Children Services. She has been with the agency for nearly 25 years and has a master’s degree in social work and a license to practice social work. In addition to her child welfare career, Questel has been an instructor of social work at Wayne College and The University of Akron, and an instructor with Ohio State University/ATI in Wooster.
March is Social Work Month.
According to the US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, social work is one of the fastest growing careers in the United States, with more than 715,000 social work jobs in 2020.
There is a lack of qualified social workers to meet the needs in this country. That deficit is seen largely in rural areas such as Wayne County.
Kent State University recently recognized this need and is adding a social work program to their undergraduate curriculum.
Locally, Wayne College and the University of Akron also offer social work programs on both the bachelor and master level.
There are specific guidelines to follow on curriculum standards from the Council on Social Work Education for universities offering this major. There are specific classes, a field practicum and a license exam required to be a licensed social worker.
What is the role of a social worker?
The role of a social worker cannot be specifically defined because there is a vast array of needs that social worker’s respond to in our society.
Social workers can be found in mental health centers, child welfare, addiction treatment centers, schools, hospitals, and corporations, to name a few.
I am a social worker with Wayne County Children Services. Our role in the community is working with families to provide the best environment for children.
We often link families with local services that can help improve their level of functioning and provide stability and safety for the children.
Through our work with families, we link them with many agencies in our community that provide services specific to the family’s needs. Many of these agencies employ social workers that specialize in the areas of social work previously mentioned. This partnership is invaluable as we work to protect children and strengthen families.
Social work:Wayne County Commissioners approve contracts with child support service providers
The National Association of Social Workers determines a social worker’s six tenets of practice as service, social justice, dignity and worth of people, importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence.
Social workers often don’t have tangible tools to use with their clients, but rely on their compassion, empathy, and a desire for a positive outcome as their means for interaction. Social workers believe that people can change if given the appropriate opportunities. Our field is hopeful and dependent on the resilience of the human condition.
Social workers badly needed in Wayne County and Ohio
Child welfare is just one area of social work. As we examine the challenges in our community that include race and cultural relations, addiction, homelessness, and mental health issues, it is easy to see that social workers are greatly needed here.
A basic search on OhioMeansJobs.com found over 70 social work job opportunities available within a 50-mile radius of Wayne County.
Additionally, many colleges in Ohio with a social work major are seeking instructors for their program to meet the student demand.
The reason for the need seems to be two-fold. First, we are simply recognizing need more efficiently in our communities. The second part is more systemic, in response to ongoing situations.
Long-term discrimination and marginalization have left us with more homeless individuals, more people living in poverty, more families affected by substance abuse and more mental health needs than ever before.
That is exactly why the association says that as social workers we need to advocate for social justice for our clients and ensure that as the helping professional we are trained and knowledgeable in our area of practice.
Social workers are required to speak up for others and to identify areas of need, whether that be on the individual level, community level or anywhere in between.
As a social worker in Wayne County and a social work instructor at the University of Akron, I am proud of my profession. I am allowed to get up every day and make efforts to help other human beings.
That opportunity is unique and very humbling. I am honored that individuals in difficult situations trust me to walk beside them in their journey to improve their situation.
Social workers do not solve problems, we simply help show our clients the options available. Families and individuals solve their own problems and grow stronger through the process.
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