March is National Professional Social Worker month and here at the Children’s Safety Center we are spotlighting our social workers and the many roles they play on our team.
Karen, how long have you worked at the Children’s Safety Center? What is your job role?
When the Children’s Safety Center first opened I volunteered and then created an internship here at the CSC. A month after completing the internship I was hired as a child advocate and then later moved into the forensic interviewer role. So, I have been at the CSC pretty much since the beginning of operation, 22 years. I am also the Multidisciplinary Team Coordinator for Washington County and a Peer Review Facilitator for Children’s Advocacy Center’s of Arkansas.
Why did you become a social worker?
Honestly, I was an undeclared major for undergraduate for two years because my goal was law school. After two years I had to pick a major and I picked social work because I jokingly said “I wanted to bring humanity into the law”. However, after being in the social work program at the University of Arkansas, I found my niche. And after volunteering at the Children’s Safety Center I found my calling.
Something that people might not know about social workers…
Although most get into the field of social work because of wanting to help others from a place of empathy (based on feelings), there are others like me who also want to make the world better from a place of justice and doing what is right for others (thinking). There are social workers who work on statistics (non-human contact), policy, administration, etc. Social work has so many diverse positions and roles that many do not realize or know.
What is the best thing about being a social worker at the Children’s Safety Center?
For me the best thing about being a social worker at the Children’s Safety Center is the freedoms offered that one might not find in a position within a state or government. Freedom to make decisions regarding the best interest of each client. The freedom to learn, grow and develop as a professional. The freedom to use each staff members strengths and talents and then lean on each other in areas where improvement is needed.
Any advice for someone going into the social work field?
First and foremost, learn about yourself. Know why you want in the field (let this guide your personal decisions and goals). Resolve any family of origin issues you might have prior to working in this field. You cannot effectively help others if you yourself are in a place of brokenness. Have a basic understanding of what self-care looks like for you. Use internships to find the population you want to work with and to find your calling. Apply what you learn in college and then adapt or change what doesn’t work. Be inventive, flexible and creative. And always, consider the research behind what you are doing. Keep up with current research and allow that to guide your practice.
Karen has conducted over 4,000 forensic interviews and was the Ordinary Hero Award recipient in 2017.