Why social workers are needed in Wayne County and Ohio
Editor’s note: Gloria Questel is the Director of Social Services for Wayne County Children Services. She has worked for the agency for nearly 25 years and holds a master’s degree in social work and a license to practice social work. In addition to her career in child welfare, Questel has served as a social work instructor at Wayne College and the University of Akron, and an instructor at 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. This deficit is widely seen in rural areas such as Wayne County.
Kent State University recently recognized this need and is adding a social work program to its undergraduate curriculum.
Locally, Wayne College and the University of Akron also offer social work programs at the bachelor’s and master’s levels.
There are specific guidelines to follow on the Social Work Education Council Curriculum Standards for universities offering this major. There are specific courses, on-the-job training, and a licensing exam required to be a licensed social worker.
What is the role of a social worker?
The role of a social worker cannot be precisely defined as there is a wide range of needs that social workers meet in our society.
Social workers can be found in mental health centers, child protective services, addiction treatment centers, schools, hospitals, and businesses, to name a few.
I am a social worker with Wayne County Children Services. Our role in the community is to work with families to provide the best environment for children.
We often connect families to local services that can help improve their level of functioning and provide stability and safety for children.
Through our work with families, we connect them to many agencies in our community that offer services specific to family needs. Many of these agencies employ social workers who specialize in the previously mentioned areas of social work. This partnership is invaluable as we work to protect children and strengthen families.
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The National Association of Social Workers determines the six principles of practice of a social worker such as service, social justice, the dignity and worth of people, the importance of human relationships, integrity and competence.
Social workers often do not have concrete tools to use with their clients, but rely on their compassion, empathy and desire for a positive outcome as a means of interaction. Social workers believe that people can change if given the right opportunities. Our field is hopeful and depends on the resilience of the human condition.
Social workers are needed in Wayne County and Ohio
Child protection is just one area of social work. As we examine the challenges of our community, including race and cultural relations, addictions, homelessness and mental health issues, it is easy to see that social workers are badly needed here.
A basic search on OhioMeansJobs.com found over 70 social work jobs available within a 50-mile radius of Wayne County.
Additionally, many colleges in Ohio with a major in social work are looking for instructors for their program to meet student demand.
The reason for this need seems to be twofold. First, we are simply recognizing the needs more effectively in our communities. The second part is more systemic, in response to current situations.
Long-term discrimination and marginalization have left us with more homeless people, more people living in poverty, more families impacted by addictions, and more mental health needs than ever before.
This is exactly why the association says that as social workers we must advocate for social justice for our clients and ensure that as helping professionals we are trained and knowledgeable in our area of practice.
Social workers are required to speak on behalf of others and identify areas of need, whether at the individual level, at the community level, or anywhere in between.
As a social worker in Wayne County and an instructor in social work at the University of Akron, I take pride in my profession. I have the right to get up every day and make an effort to help other human beings.
This opportunity is unique and very humbling. I am honored that people in difficult situations trust me to accompany them in their journey to improve their situation.
Caseworkers do not solve problems, we simply help to show our clients the options available. Families and individuals work through their own issues and grow stronger through the process.