Yesterday was World Social Workers Day and I spent it, as I do most other days in the four years we’ve been licensed foster care providers, thinking about how lucky we are to have the team of social workers we do.
Foster care will break your heart in a million ways you never saw coming. I know this because my own heart has expanded and contracted like an old rubber balloon many, many times throughout this journey as I worry about the children in our home and the families they love.
Our social worker has been both our helium and our grounding string. She shows up when our old balloon hearts are dragging so low to the ground it feels like they’ll never lift off again; or so full of love, or joy, or excitement that they’re ready to burst; or flapping around wildly in the stormy breeze that is life within the foster care system. Then, she Calms. Us. Down.
She is the indefatigable voice of reason, relationship and resource and we are just one of the many families she serves. I have no idea how she manages to get through each day with such grace.
Children in foster care also have assigned social workers and those super heroes navigate deftly among their little wounded charges, their birth families and their foster families. Natural wind tunnels develop among those entities and CPS workers bear the brunt of all that hot air. But the ones we know manage to keep their eyes open and focused exactly where they should be.
Other social workers in the foster care system manage crisis lines, work to reunite siblings, counsel parents who have the heart but lack the skills to provide a safe home environment, vet potential adoptive parents, and train foster parents among many other duties.
I really don’t know how the social workers we know manage to cram all of their duties into a single work day, especially in such a highly emotional and mostly thankless arena.
I can’t do anything about their hours, but I can take the occasion of World Social Workers Day to say Thank You from the bottom of our rubber balloon hearts!
(March is also Social Workers month so there is still plenty of time to thank a social worker near you. Also, I think we should all advocate for more funding for county social workers. They are miracle workers and we don’t have enough of them.)