Even though every March is set aside as National Social Work Month, we love celebrating Social Workers throughout the year. This year’s theme for March was “leaders. advocates. champions.” We work hand in hand with Social Workers throughout Kentucky and Southern Indiana and have recently interviewed a local Social Worker, Betty Bastin, to provide a deeper look into her profession and daily responsibilities.
Kentuckiana Presents Unique Circumstances For Social Workers
Social Workers throughout the United States work around the clock to meet the basic needs, especially for the most vulnerable, of people in their cities. They work to ensure that all people have equal access to the resources and opportunities that allow them to meet their basic needs. The greater Louisville area provides unique circumstances for our local Social Workers to overcome.
In 2013, a report issued by the National Center on Family Homelessness entitled “America’s Youngest Outcasts — A Report Card on Child Homelessness,” estimated that nearly 2.5 million American children were homeless at some point in 2013 and ranked Kentucky the worst in child homelessness.
More recently, The Children’s Defense Fund’s report, The State Of America’s Children 2017, reports that in Kentucky 247,780 children were living in poverty in 2016 and 18,897 children were abused or neglected in 2015. You can see more Kentucky statistics here. All of these things and more require Kentuckiana Social Workers to be passionate, resilient, empathetic, courageous, and so much more.
Social Workers confront some of the most challenging issues facing individuals, families, communities, and society as a whole. They forge solutions that help people reach their full potential and make our nation a better place to live.
A Social Worker’s Typical Day According To Betty
What does a typical day look like for you?
Typical day is coming in to answer calls from Foster parents (FP), folks in the community interested in Fostering, answering e-mails of all kinds (from Community Partners, foster/adoptive parents, issues with getting the FP Trainings, issues with getting in touch with child’s workers, Resource Homes Workers etc), helping folks make contact with the right Social Worker, helping a parent find a Mentor with Adoption Support of KY, helping Foster/Adoptive families find a cluster for training hours & talking with Foster Parent Networks.
Other daily tasks might include helping:
- Resource Homes Workers to get dignity bags for kids placed in their foster home
- Placement workers with suggesting a family for the child to be placed
- The facilitators with Resources in the Community
- Fingerprinting with Foster/Adoptive Families and sending folks to the other side for Workflow Fingerprints
- Receiving paperwork in the mail/fax/email for perspective Families who are going thru Home-study process and getting it to the correct Resource Homes Worker
- Taking care of any issues for training (ex: one of the trainer’s recently experienced a death in their family, so they had to get another trainer that could “fill the shoes” until she returned (we actually had to get multiple trainers)
- Sending families flyers for upcoming events like the Easter Egg Hunt we had on March 31st and training hours
- Sending families flyers for the Spring Enrichment Conference—getting the facility, working on the lunch to be provided, getting all trainers for the conference & making copies of needed materials.
- Working on 10-weeks of investigations that we were assigned and will be working on for another month
How did you decide you wanted to be a social worker?
I worked for the airlines prior to becoming a mother and when I decided to get my Master’s Degree at the University of Louisville, I felt it would be a job with “better schedule” for family life.
How is it different than what you expected it might be like?
Any job dealing with “people and life decisions” can be tough work especially when you deeply care about children and their circumstances that will mold and affect them for life.
What’s the hardest part about your job? The best?
The best part of my job is seeing ALL the great families we have who step in to Foster/Adopt children that come from hard places. The hardest part of the job is when families disrupt and a child is moved to another home. (The VERY HARDEST thing is doing our job on top of the extra duties like the 10 weeks of Investigations, which is brutal!)
What keeps you motivated on the hard days?
What do you think the future of social work looks like? What is the field’s biggest need in your opinion?
I am not sure what the future of social work looks like. In our area, there are ALWAYS children and families who will need support and care. I do not see the “world” as being so caring or kind about these families and I’m not sure what that will look like for the future generation unless the Social Workers hired at the Cabinet can do the work they were hired to do (with fewer caseloads).
How does OCA work with you and support you?
OCA has always been supportive by providing Dignity Bags for the children of all ages who come into Foster Care. They help during the Holidays with food baskets and step in when families have an emergency. For example, a Foster father had a heart attack/surgery out of town in Atlanta at Thanksgiving several years ago and OCA helped to provide the family with Christmas help and food along with Southeast Christian Church. OCA has provided help when I worked with several families who needed respite, a mother with cancer with an investigation, and many other instances when families needed some support or extra help.
What are ways the public can tangibly, practically, and most helpfully come alongside social workers and provide that support?
I think one way is to acknowledge and know that we need to be “thanking a Social Worker” just as everyone thanks a Teacher, or a Nurse. But oftentimes, Social Workers are the first to know of the family and we help the Teacher or Nurse to work better with the family….or the schools.
Social workers see and do some amazing things that folks never know anything about and the circumstances for going into people’s homes is different than working with folks in a school, hospital, outpatient setting, etc. We see folks where they live and how they function in that setting, which tells the professional more about that family’s “world.”
Just speak up to help Social Workers be recognized as a vital part of the help with families & children in the Louisville Community. The Foster Care & Adoption Unit has always worked hard with Foster Families and we NEED more great families to take a child that would otherwise not get a loving home environment to thrive in until they can return home or be adopted. We also need MORE adoptive Families, as there are always children in need.
Thank you, Betty, for taking the time to answer our questions and shed light on the Social Work profession. We deeply appreciate every Social Worker we work with at OCA. When you help OCA, you’re also helping Social Workers like Betty. Click here to see ways you can become involved.