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Posted Friday, March 18, 2016 by Tiffany Himmelreich

What Stereotype About Social Work Would You Clear Up?

As part of our Marketing duties, my teammate Mae Wells-Kress and I travel the country talking to caseworkers and social workers. In those travels, we’ve asked dozens of people the same four questions about what it means to be in social work.

  1. Why did you go into social work?
  2. What is the most challenging thing about social work?
  3. What stereotype about social work would you clear up?
  4. What is the best thing about social work?

In honor of Social Work Month 2016, we’re sharing a snapshot of the answers we’ve received each Friday in March. Read the quotes or watch the quick videos below to hear the responses to the third question:

What stereotype about social work would you clear up?

Because the misconceptions are different based on the type of social work, we've divided the responses into two groups: adult and child protective services social workers, and social services caseworkers who provide economic services and child support benefits.

We’d love to hear from you too. Tell us what stereotype you would clear up in the comments section below.

Protective Services


"Kind of the misconception I think is that, you know, social workers are hard edged and they're going to come and take your kids and they're going to put up all these barriers so you can't have your child."

- Kaylo Brooks, Child Welfare Social Worker, Crow Wing County Community Services, Minnesota

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"We are not here to take your children. We are here to try to keep your family together. To really listen and learn what is going on and see there's some programs accessible that could be beneficial."

- Laura Becher, Initial Assessment Social Worker, Dane County Department of Human Services, Wisconsin

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"A lot of people think we just take kids. That we don't care. We just go in and take kids and that's it. What I want people to know is that's not what we want to do. Our goal is to always keep a family together."

- Shelby Steinmetz, Child Advocacy Center Intake Social Worker, Clark County Family and Children Services, Ohio

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"When we take a child into foster care, nine times out of ten we've worked with that family for several months if not a year or more to address the issues before we have to remove them."

- Lisa Gibbs-Lee, Children's Services Supervisor, Beaufort County Department of Social Services, North Carolina

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"Really what our actual goal always is, is reunification with families so whether that be with the same family that they've been with and we're trying to repair things that have happened or finding other family members if we're jumping into the foster care system."

- Carrie Meiners, Ongoing Case Management Social Worker,vWinona County Community Services, Minnesota

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"Despite what everybody might think, we really want to keep families together. Because despite whatever's going on in that family, the kids want to be with their parents. They love their parents. If we can help the parents be better parents to their kids that is our ultimate goal."

- Kristen Sternquist, Child Advocacy Center Caseworker, Chemung County Department of Social Services, New York
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"I'm just here to help you. To see if we have any resources out there that you can benefit from."

- Kristen Hamilton, Adult Services Social Worker, Beaufort County Department of Social Services, North Carolina

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"We do want to help. We do want to help. We don't want to break up families. The main thing is we want to keep you in your community."

- Amy Moe, Adult Mental Health & Chemical Dependency Social Worker,
Winona County Community Services, Minnesota

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"We can't win. So either the public thinks we're not doing enough to help children, to save children, to keep them safe, or the public on the other side of the coin thinks we're doing too much. You're just out there snatching babies."

- Lynda Erickson, Family Services Supervisor, Crow Wing County Community Services, Minnesota

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"Just because they don't see us doing something doesn't mean we're not doing it. I think often times families think that if we're not removing a child we're not doing anything for the family."

- Lisa Martin, Child Protective Services Initial Assessment Supervisor,
Dane County Department of Human Services, Wisconsin

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"We believe that children belong with their parents and that we work very hard to keep kids with their families. And that if people are willing to work with us, then we will move mountains to do whatever we can to try and help families."

- Lisa Hankes, Child Protective Services Ongoing Supervisor,
Dane County Department of Human Services, Wisconsin

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Social Services

"I think the public a lot of time views, their view on food and nutrition benefits, think a lot of people abuse the system. There are a lot of people out there, just like myself, that have fallen on hard times and that they need that added assistance or extra assistance, even if they're working a 40-hour a week job."

- Laura Lewis, Income Maintenance Triage Caseworker,
Beaufort County Department of Social Services, North Carolina

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"There's no such thing a free ride. That’s probably the biggest misconception is that social services is helping all these people just get free money and free services."

- Nathan Bertram, Program Coordinator, Crow Wing County Community Services, Minnesota

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"The agency is here to help. A lot of times I think individuals feel like it's something that people tend to abuse. And while that may happen on occasion, it's here to help. You never know when you'll be that person that the economy has hit and you don't have a job or something doesn't work out the way you think and you need child support or food stamps or a place to live. We don't know what tomorrow brings. And this agency is here to help."

- Nonna Crowder, Child Support Enforcement Agent, Burke County Department of Social Services, North Carolina

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"I think that most people here are generally here because they want to help people. One of the things that we make a big deal here is that you're not just serving clients, you're serving someone's mother, or you’re serving your church members, you're serving your community. And I wish that more people understood that. The other thing I with people understood is how hard this job is. And you take a lot of it home with you."

- Amanda Grady, Income Maintenance Supervisor, Burke County Department of Social Services, North Carolina

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Tiffany Himmelreich Tiffany Himmelreich is the Marketing Communications Manager for Northwoods. Her favorite part of her job is visiting Northwoods customers and talking to social workers because their job is tough and amazing and terrifying and she loves helping tell their stories.
 

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