The month of March may conjure up thoughts of Spring, St. Patrick’s Day and other cheerful feelings. However, the month of march is also a time of admiration and praise for the thousands of social workers across the United States and beyond. Working in the social services sector is no easy task, it involves confronting some of the most challenging and heart wrenching situations that communities, families, children and so on go through on a daily basis. National Professional Social Worker Month is an opportunity for social workers, and those in the social services field, to be recognized for their relentless efforts to make this world a better place.
One professional in the social services field is Palmetto Place Children’s Shelter’s own Case Manager, Ms. Essence Jackson. She has worked with the Palmetto Place’s residents for 2 years, on a day-to-day basis to assess any of the children’s needs, whether that be personal or concerning their case, any challenges that they may be having and their goals and successes. Her job also includes working as the liaison with different departments of social services staff, Richland County Guardians Ad Litems, teachers and administration and other resource agencies such as The Department of Social Services, planning and implementing nontraditional therapeutic approaches based on each child’s needs, crisis management, implementing psycho-educational and independent living groups, and a multitude of other services.
I was given the opportunity to do an interview with Ms. Jackson on her experiences in the Social Services Sector and personally how Palmetto Place has impacted her, find our conversation below!
What personally made you want to go into this line of work?
“Initially it started back with my grandmother, who became a kinship caregiver for some of our family members. From there, seeing her deal with the foster care system and adopting other children inspired me to be involved.”
What motivates you to do the job that you do?
“Knowing that many of the kids that we serve essentially come to us with no sort of support or support system. To see Palmetto Place become that over time, even with something small or simple, just knowing that they have someone who they can depend on, even if it is for a short period of time is what motivates me.”
Other than professional skills, what kind of personal characteristics do you need to work in the social services sector?
“Patience. Especially when dealing with teenagers who want to be like every other teenager that is not in foster care. Patience in working with the foster care system in general and understanding that all though you are dealing with kids in foster care, at the end of the day they are “normal” kids.”
What are some skills that you build along the way while working in the this field?
“Realizing that every case is different, so you are not going to deal with every kid and their needs in the same way, so you have to constantly adjust.”
What is one of the most gratifying things about working at Palmetto Place?
“When you realize that you have made a certain connection or bond with the kids. It gets to a point that they are not just seeking you out during a crisis, but they just want to talk to you about their life and positive things that are going on.”
If you could give any advice to someone wanting to enter this line of work, what would it be?
“You should definitely make sure that your heart is in it and know you might not be able to change the world or the system, but you can change one kids world. You can knock down barriers by taking things one step at a time.”
What do you hope to accomplish at Palmetto Place?
“Overall the goal is for each kid that comes through Palmetto Place to feel safe, at home and comfortable. They have people who not only care for them, but about them.”
What does working with children, like the kids you work with here at Palmetto Place, mean to you?
“It means a lot for me to know that I make an impact everyday I go to work.”
Written by Dominique Purdue,