Vol. 9, No. 1• November 2004

Celebrating Special Social Workers

We want to give you a chance to learn a little bit more about the social workers Tawni, Jaquette, Courtney, Rachel, Andrea, and David celebrate in their essays. As you read these short profiles, keep in mind that the people described here are just a few of those who deserve to be recognized for their dedication to children in foster care.

Unfortunately we can’t name each and every one of them here in Fostering Perspectives. But if you know a social worker, foster parent, or anyone else who goes above and beyond the call of duty on behalf of kids, please take the time to let this person know how much you respect and appreciate what he or she does.

Linda Davis Buie, is a senior human services practitioner with Wake County Human Services. She has more than 19 years experience in the field of child welfare, and currently works with older teens, especially around adoption. When asked about her work, Ms. Buie says simply, “I just really enjoy working with teens.”
Ashley Burley has been a foster care social worker with Sampson County DSS since 2000. She says, “Reading what Tawni wrote about me helps me realize exactly why I continue to stay in this profession.” Asked why she thinks Tawni chose to write about her, Ms. Burley says that it all boils down to commitment. “[Tawni] saw that I was going to be there for her. She told me that I had been around the longest of any of her other social workers.”
Carmelita Coleman has been working with teens for Forsyth County DSS for three and a half years. She says in that time she has missed only three days of work because, “I really love my job.” She believes Courtney singled her out because, “I’m not judgmental. I try to listen, and I really try to relate. These kids have seen so much disruption. I believe that as social workers it is up to us to demonstrate our support for them, to show them we’re going to be there for them consistently.”
Sue Kirkman, of Guilford County DSS, thinks her success with David stems in large part from her willingness to connect with teens on their terms. This means doing things that teens like to do, such as driving around listening to music and eating fast food. She says kids open up to her during this unstructured time. “For example, we talk about their music. I don’t always like it, but showing an interest in it shows that I take them seriously.”
Bill Routh, a lawyer, has been a Guardian ad Litem since 1984. He thinks Andrea likes him because, “I don’t talk down to her. I know she’s very intelligent and very eloquent.” It is obvious how much he admires Andrea. He says, “To have come through the hard times that Andrea has and to still shine the way she has—she’s truly remarkable.”
Cheryl Walker works for Eckerd Youth Alternatives, though she was with Columbus County DSS when she worked with Rachel. She says, “More than anyone else, Rachel and her family taught me that no matter what moms and dads may do, they still love their kids, and the kids still love them.” She also says that her success with kids always comes down to two things: simply being there (she was Rachel’s worker for seven years) and listening. She says, “Whether they are right or wrong, whether you want to or not, LISTEN!”




Copyright 2004 Jordan Institute for Families