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Social workers make difference through changing lives

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Dozens of Social Workers attended a meeting at the Pitt County Office Complex for National Professional Social Work Month Tuesday, March 13, 2018.


By Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Helping arrange adoptions. Providing utility assistance. Handling child care subsidy cases.

Social workers make a difference in the lives of Pitt County residents on a daily basis.

March is National Professional Social Work Month, and the Pitt County Department of Social Services' board members took some time on Tuesday afternoon to praise the efforts of local workers and spotlight some of the many services they provide.

The county employs 70 social workers and 14 social work supervisors. Workers are employed throughout the county, including Pitt County Public Health, Pitt County Schools, the Veterans Administration, Vidant Health, and several private agencies, according to a news release.

Shannon Carter, a social worker with adult protective services, admits her job can be challenging.

“It's very rewarding but it's not that easy,” Carter said. “And it means a lot to know that people want to recognize us. We don't ask for the recognition. We do this because we love what we do.”

In last 12 months, social workers with Pitt County oversaw the adoption of 14 children, helped transition of 291 individuals towards self-sufficiency, handled successful child protection interventions involving 1,104 families with nearly 2,000 children, provided guardianship service for 125 adults and intervention services to more than 350 vulnerable disabled adults, handled more than 1,300 child care subsidy cases and provided utility assistance to more than 2,700 households, the news release stated. 

To ensure efficiency, DSS has a whole village of social workers working collaboratively in each of their respective departments.

Natalie Hobbs is a crisis intervention worker who helps families who need assistance with basic needs like paying rent and utilities.

“I solve issues within 24-48 hours,” Hobbs said. “We deal with their power bills, rent, utilities and things of that nature. Families can know their children are not going to be cold. That they're not going to suffer from heat strokes. That they're gonna be safe and sound.”

Jennifer Stroud, is an adult home specialist who ensures residents who have limited mobility and debilitating health issues receive care.

“My staff monitors all the assisted living and family health care facilities in Pitt County and makes sure those residents’ needs are met,” Stroud said. We also make sure that facilities are following all the state rules and regulations.”

According to the National Association of Social Workers website, 650,000 of America's social workers “confront some of the most challenging issues facing individuals, families, communities and society and forge solutions that help people reach their full potential and make our nation a better place to live.”

However, one of the toughest hurdles social workers face is getting rid of negative stereotypes.

“We are the ones who inevitably remove children from the home,” social worker Tasha Overton said. “When they see us, we are perceived as the big, bad social worker. No one wants to understand that a child can be taken from a home.

“They don’t see all the work that we do to reunify that family to make that family productive and to make the parents who they need to be for their children,” Overton said.

Social workers like Jenny Suggs, who works as an employment specialist, said DSS wants to help people.

“We work with households who have little-to-no income and our goal is to help them gain the skills necessary to be successful,” Sugg said.

Through Pitt County's program, Work First, families gain valuable job readiness skills.

“The program itself requires up to 30-35 hours of activities each week for participants,” Suggs said. “Those include things such as job readiness programs, reviewing resume building skills. We also do volunteer placement to gain employment skills, job searching and some education.”

Helping families succeed makes Suggs' job worthwhile.

“Just seeing that success, seeing them come in a crisis-type situation but leave as a stable family unit, that to me is what keeps you going in the field,” Suggs said.

To learn more about Pitt County DSS, visit pittcountync.gov 

Contact Tyler Stocks at tstocks@reflector.com and 252-329-9566 .  Follow him on Twitter at TylerstocksGDR