Social Work, a calling and a career Changing lives in our community and empowering families

By Wright Communications

The day follows on the heels of the State of Care 2015 report by the Children's Commissioner Dr Russell Wills, recommending changes for Child, Youth and Family (CYF). The report noted the shortcomings at CYF and led to calls from Social Development Minister Anne Tolley for sweeping changes requiring CYF to work collaboratively with other agencies.

Family Works Northern has approximately 150 qualified counsellors and social workers who provide a range of services to children, young people and families.

Laurie Pedlar, General Manager Family Works Northern says social workers make a major contribution to communities, but many people are unaware of the complexity of the work they do.

"Many of the families we work alongside are struggling with multiple issues that have a huge impact on children - family violence, poverty, unemployment, lack of suitable housing, divorce and parenting issues. You can't separate out these issues into neat compartments.

"Every family is different and requires a response appropriate to their individual need - this takes training, experience and skill on the part of the social worker. It's rewarding but challenging work," she says.

Some Family Works social workers are integrated into Plunket teams to provide social work support alongside healthcare for families with babies and toddlers. Other family workers help women released from prison to integrate into the community, under the Out of Gate programme provided by Family Works under contract to the Department of Corrections.

Family Works Northern is also the largest national provider of social workers in schools (SWiS), who work alongside individual children and their families to address family issues, and help children engage with learning and participate in school.

They also support the entire school and the wider community through programmes that deal with issues like bullying or community issues that affect children at the school.

The SWiS also support New Zealand's diverse migrant communities and offer advice on issues such as understanding the New Zealand education system, developing parenting skills, strengthening family relationships and dealing with abuse.

Family Works social workers focus on children in the context of their families, and are qualified to offer a wide range of skills and practice methods to meet their needs.

"New Zealand Social Workers Day celebrates and highlights the work social workers provide for our communities. We need to recognise their invaluable contribution and the vital role they play in building positive families and communities," Pedlar says.


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