“Social Work Breaks Barriers” — Social workers honored during month of March

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — According to the South Carolina Department of Social Services, the month of March is Social Work Month — honoring the more than 700,000 social workers across America.

Director of Communications and External Affairs with DSS, Connelly-Anne Ragley, says social workers are there for families at all hours — getting to the bottom of issues they’re facing and providing them with ideas, resources, and solutions to help.

“Really social workers are givers. In that they give so much of their time and talents, many times away from their own families and outside of the jobs and lives that they have,” says Ragley.

Ragley believes this year’s theme for appreciation month, “Social Work Breaks Barriers,” is fitting — with social workers tackling complex issues like housing, employment, mental health, and addiction.

“And then how do we overcome them and make sure that that barrier is just a speed bump and not something that’s going to impact that family long term?” asks Ragley.

Of the calls and reports received by the DSS Abuse and Neglect Hotline, Ragley reports that most don’t involve physical or sexual abuse, but rather concerns of neglect — ranging from lack of running water to lack of adequate clothing for children.

But Ragley wants people to know that poverty does not equal neglect.

“Just because you are poor or maybe a little down on your luck, does not mean you don’t love your children. It does not mean you are abusing your children. But sometimes, families in SC need a hand up and need help getting back on their feet,” she says.

And Ragley says that’s where social workers come in, not to judge but to help — oftentimes in high stakes emotional situations.

“Sometimes when you feel like you can’t stand on your own two feet, or you have nothing else left to give, that social worker is there to help you and hopefully you will feel that strength to the point where you will feel comfortable in finally standing on your own two feet,” says Ragley.

DSS also has a new program called BSW Scholars, offering tuition assistance for college juniors and seniors graduating in the field.

“Social work really is a calling. You have to love it to do it. You have to be in the role in the moment really figuring out what you can do to make the world a better place,” says Ragley.

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