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Career Story: Social Worker With A Legal Brief

Social Worker With A Legal Brief

Job Title: Social Worker

Type of Company: I work for a four-county judicial district in rural North Carolina as part of the North Carolina courts system.

Education: BA, Social Work, Youngstown State University

Previous Experience: I worked as a children's services case manager and then as a supervisor for a community mental health system prior to North Carolina's Mental Health reform.

Job Tasks: I am responsible for program administration, staff supervision, recruitment, training and supervision of volunteer court advocates to further the mission of the North Carolina Guardian ad Litem program. The mission of the program is to provide trained, independent advocates to represent and promote the best interests of abused, neglected and dependent children in the state court system and to work toward a plan that ensures that these children are in a safe, permanent home.

A Guardian ad Litem is a trained community volunteer who is appointed by a district court judge to investigate and determine the needs of abused and neglected children petitioned into the court system by the Department of Social Services. The Guardian ad Litem (GAL) volunteer makes independent recommendations to the court for services, which focus on the needs of each child. The GAL advocates for a permanent and safe home for every child within the shortest time possible.

My job requires extensive knowledge of child development, child abuse and neglect, community agencies, juvenile laws, local politics, school systems, family resources and volunteer management.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: the best parts of my job are attaining successful outcomes for children, the enthusiasm that volunteers bring to casework and program support, having volunteers discover facts that lead to breakthroughs in children's cases.

The worst parts are not having enough volunteers to cover cases, making our best case decisions and then something happening to the children again and seeing them return to custody of social services. The other worst part is being forced to confront the unspeakable things that people will do to their children.

Job Tips: Be objective and social-minded: start volunteering with programs while studying to make sure this is the field you really want to commit to, and take a broad array of courses within social work and psychology.

Additional Thoughts: A big surprise was learning to be apolitical in a very politically driven system. I wish I'd known how advantageous an advanced degree and some law classes would have been BEFORE I started working.

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