Press Releases

Social Workers Lauded for Support Given to County's Most Fragile

County Executive Office - Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 13, 2000

Contact: Diane Thomas
(714) 834-6203

Social Workers Lauded for Support Given to County's Most Fragile

(Santa Ana) When the County's Social Workers are honored tomorrow morning by the Board of Supervisors, the Board will be thanking them for the hundreds of acts of persistence and compassion that make a difference in the lives of Orange County residents.

Consider "Sally's" case. The 11-year-old, who had spent her entire life in institutions, was recently hospitalized in critical condition and not expected to live. Additionally, hospital staff had no records with parent contact information and needed to obtain a medical release to treat the child.

Peggy Driscoll, Social Worker, received the case at 8:30 a.m. on March 6. She quickly completed a preliminary record search and found an address and telephone number for "Sally's" parents. Aided by Spanish-language translation by Social Worker Barbara Navaretto, Driscoll talked to "Sally's" mom to explain the child's condition and that the mother was needed immediately at the hospital. Learning that the mother had no transportation, Driscoll recruited Senior Social Service Supervisor Jim Waldron and Social Worker Assistant Terry Sanchez to immediately pick up the mother at her home and take her to the hospital.

"Sally's" mother was able to participate in making medical decisions for her daughter and to spend the last hours of her daughter's life with her because of the efforts of the Children and Family Services Special Programs.

To balance the sometimes sad conclusions of their cases, Social Workers also have the chance to make a big difference in people's lives. Just ask Health Care Agency Clinical Social Worker Cathy Joseph.

Two years ago, Joseph encountered a client through the Drug Court Program who was unemployed, a mother of four children, addicted to drugs and living in a motel. Although "Sue" had come from a middle class lifestyle, a failed business coupled with a dissolving marriage were more than she could bear. Her escape to drugs ultimately led to her arrest and then to a way into a new life.

"Sue" chose to participate in the Drug Court Diversion Program and, through it, met the social worker who would help her change her life. Joseph provided an intensive 18-month treatment program for "Sue" that included weekly individual and group counseling sessions plus a 12-step drug treatment program. Today, "Sue" lives in a small house. She and her children are employed and she once again has a close relationship with her extended family.

At tomorrow morning's meeting, Board Chairman Chuck V. Smith, will present a resolution recognizing March as Social Worker Month and honoring the more than 800 County Social Workers. This dedicated group provides services such as protection from neglect and physical abuse for children and frail adults, helping clients get jobs and become self-sufficient, providing adoption services, recruiting and supporting foster parents, evaluating and authorizing services that can keep adults in their homes rather than institutions, and providing case management and direct behavioral health services.

On behalf of the Social Workers in both agencies, the resolution will be accepted by Larry Leaman, Social Services Agency director, and Michael Schumacher, Health Care Agency director.

"The dedication, professionalism and effectiveness of the County's Social Workers cannot be overestimated." said Leaman. "Their efforts protect thousands of children and adults from physical and mental abuse and restore families and individuals to productive, contributing lives in the community."