Families

It Takes a Special Heart to be a Social Worker

Everyday heroes are everywhere in our communities – in the form of San Diego County social workers.

They are working with foster families, answering the child abuse hotline, helping children at the Polinsky Children’s Center or San Pasqual Academy and ensuring the safety of seniors.

March is national Social Worker Appreciation Month and the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) honored its child welfare services workers yesterday.

“Social workers keep families together, they reunify families and they create new families,” said Debra Zanders-Willis, HHSA child welfare services director. “Social workers are change agents who help improve the quality of life for children and families every day.

“They approach their jobs with commitment, dedication and passion.”

Social Worker Appreciation Month began in 1965 as a way to raise public awareness of the profession and how it touches lives every day.

“In the best of times it’s a heart-breaking job and it can be life-or-death,” said Greg Cox, chairman, San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

Cox noted the significant reduction in the number of children in foster care in San Diego County.

“That’s thanks in large part to the work you do,” he told the social workers.

There are approximately 3,340 children in the foster care system currently, down from a high of nearly 6,000 in 2004.

San Diego County has 725 social workers in child welfare services.

“It takes a special heart to be a social worker,” said Helen-Robbins-Meyer, San Diego County chief administrative officer. “You are changing lives and you do it in such a quiet manner.

“Your work is as close to sainthood as I could imagine.”

Tom Christensen is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact