Voices’ Blog

Social Workers are the Forgotten First Responders

Posted:  -  By: Allison Gilbreath

By Sophia Booker

As a person with lived experiences with mental health challenges, this is an extremely difficult time for me. The fear, anxiety, hyper vigilance, and feelings others are experiencing right now is something I experience on a daily basis and has heightened due to this unprecedented time.  Although this is very challenging time for me, I am being supported by my amazing support network.

I am worried about my peers in foster care, both youth in care and young adult alumni. They are really struggling during this time. Many of them have lost their jobs already and are worried about their financial stability. They are also scared and are trying their best to manage their mental health. They feel lonely because they are unable to have the physical engagement from program staff, workers, therapists, family and friends they are accustom to. This has been a life changing event for them in addition to the trauma of being removed from their homes. Although this is a challenging time, it has been amazing to see their resilience throughout this period. If anyone can teach us about resiliency through unprecedented times, it would be this population. They inspire me to keep working everyday!

My social work and human services peers are on the front lines still serving our most vulnerable populations.

They deserve to be recognized for the work they are doing for children and families across the Commonwealth. I am so grateful for the child and family social workers, clinical social workers, healthcare social workers, mental health providers, private providers, youth counselors, therapists, medical social workers, foster parents, kinship guardians, and many others who are supporting and advocating for children and families during this unprecedented time. In March, we celebrated National Social Work Month but when we listen to the news about first responders, we rarely, if ever, hear about social workers.

As an intern at Voices, we are working with State officials to ensure that workers on the front lines are able to safely perform their jobs and ensure the safety and well being of children in foster care. I know that social workers still need to receive personal protective equipment, updated technology to perform tele-visits, and continued coordination with the Virginia Court system to ensure timely visits and adoptions.

Lets thank them for their service during this time of crisis and beyond! I know we all are going through this tough time right now, but I want to uplift the voices of my peers to make sure they are not left out of the conversation.

About Sophia Booker

Sophia Booker is foster care alum and currently serves as the Youth Development Coordinator for Project LIFE, a program at United Methodist Family Services that focuses on permanent connections and the successful transition to adulthood for older youth in foster care. Sophia also serves on the governor appointed State Executive Council for Children where she serves Youth Services Representative. She is currently pursuing her Masters of Social Work at Virginia Commonwealth University and interning at Voices for Virginia’s Children.

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