By Joan Sublett
I’m sure you’ve read about children being murdered by their foster parents or even by their own parent or a mother’s boyfriend. But do you know much about the social workers who are responsible for these dependent and neglected children?
These social workers are employed by Yolo County Child Protective Services. They do some of the hardest jobs we ask our government employees to do for us, the greater community. They take care of protecting the most vulnerable of our citizens, the abused and neglected children.
Recognizing the stress of those jobs and wanting to help the children and support the social workers who are charged with protecting them, we started out in 2004 with a small group of the Yolo County Child Protective Services social workers and a few church groups who were ready to support them.
The turnover in these jobs is great since they have heavy responsibilities and enormous stress. They cannot talk about their jobs and their stress because most people don’t want to hear such sad stories, and they always have to protect the confidentiality of the families.
The Adopt-a-Social-Worker groups are dedicated to listening to the stresses and successes of the social workers and to supporting them both emotionally and financially. A monthly lunch treat, an attentive support group, lots of encouragement and appreciation, and some financial support in gifts and gift cards all come together to ease the burden on these social workers.
Also the social workers have the opportunity to educate us, the public, about what they really do and spread the word of the challenges and limitations they face.
Once a year, the social workers and their support groups get together for a potluck dinner to share their experiences with each other over the previous year. This year’s gathering was on May 20 at the United Methodist Church of Davis on Anderson Road. More than 40 people from the Methodist Church, the Davis Lutheran Church, Davis Community Church, the American Lutheran Church of Woodland and Congregation Bet Haverim in Davis shared dinner and conversation and learned about the interaction between each group and their social worker.
The social workers shared their experiences and expressed appreciation for the enormous support, encouragement and financial aid given by their church groups. Gifts for personalized Christmas presents, grocery store gift cards, bikes, needed dental care and personal gifts to social workers were mentioned and acknowledged.
“You create a fire hazard every year with your Christmas gifts stacked up in the hallways,” one social worker joked.
Said another, “Your personal support in time of great stress helped me get through it. I don’t see you as work friends. I see you as another family who looks out for me.”
As social workers change positions and get promoted, there is still turnover, but it is more often for positive reasons. Some churches drop out when their social worker moves on or up and they have lost group members from health problems or moves of their own.
Now there are four social workers waiting for groups to support them. If you would like more information about the program and might consider being a part of a church-based group or a group based elsewhere dedicated to supporting these social workers, please contact me at [email protected] or 530-753-9184.
— Joan Sublett is a Davis resident.