Making a Difference – Even if We Never Know It

I have a love/hate relationship with my job for many reasons – the first one being I don’t even like admitting to the fact that I am a caseworker for child protective services. Nobody likes caseworkers – they automatically bring up a lot of negative feelings and stereotypes. I like to think that I’m helping children who can’t help themselves and that I’m making a difference in families’ lives, but sometimes it can get really discouraging. There’s laws and regulations we have to follow, so we can’t always give the families what they truly deserve. Sometimes we’re so overloaded with cases that other cases have to get put on the back burner. Sometimes we are dealing with crisis after crisis on our cases and we have to put our own families on the back burner. Sometimes our clients let us down over and over so many times that we think there may never be hope for them.

But we, as social workers, aren’t in this profession for the thanks. We have to remember that it is our calling to serve our clients. We are the people who are there in their worst hour. We may never know the impact we have on a client (or anyone we meet for that matter), but that makes it all the more important to treat them with kindness. Leave a lasting impression. You make more of an impact than you know – do you want it to be good or bad?

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I once had a client (a teenage girl) tell me that a former caseworker had made a comment to her that no foster parent would ever want her because she eats too much. WHAT?! My heart broke for this young woman. I wanted to strangle the caseworker who had said this to her. This teenager, who already struggles with depression and self esteem issues, will likely go on to have body image issues and that comment will ring in her head for years to come.

I would love to hear your stories (good and bad) about your experiences with child protective services. I am trying my best to be conscious of how I interact with my clients and how I can make a tough situation just a little bit better. I’d like to think that even if I don’t hear about the good things now, they come down the road.

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