Social work students from eleven Kentucky universities got a pep talk Friday from the head of the state's child welfare system.
The future social workers were in attendance at the Public Child Welfare Program Conference at Eastern Kentucky University.
Upon graduation, most of the hundred plus students attending Friday's conference will work in child protective services. They participated in the public child welfare program at Eastern Kentucky University. Teresa James, Commissioner for the Department of Community Based Services addressed the group Friday afternoon. "I did front line service work and I will tell you, I've worked multitudes of different types of work within the field of social work, but nothing has been more rigorous and more demanding and more important than work as a front line child protective services worker," said James.
Over time, the Affordable Care Act could help to reduce the caseload for state social workers. James says the ACA could also help families tap into mental health services. "They are able to access health care, behavioral health care, and substance abuse treatment and I think that is going to have an impact on the workload of the department and the numbers of children in care I hope will reduce down when we're able to do more intensive in home services without taking so many children into care," added James.
James says it's important for social workers to try to balance work and home life. "How important your own family is and taking care of yourself and enjoying your time at night and on weekends with your own family and remembering how important your own children are...not to let them get lost in the rigors and responsibilities of caring for other children on your caseload."
Students participating in the Public Child Welfare Program benefit from two years paid tuition with state and federal monies. In exchange, the students agree to work for the state for two years in child protective services.