Social work

Social Work Month highlights need for help during pandemic

CLEVELAND — Nicole Stacey is a clinical social worker in several Cleveland-area school districts.

What do you want to know

  • March is National Social Work Month, and this year’s theme is “Now is the Time for Social Work”
  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are nearly 720,000 social workers in America, and experts estimate that number will reach 800,000 by 2030.
  • Like many professions, COVID-19 has exacerbated the need for social workers in various organizations, such as schools, hospitals, nursing homes and mental health centers

“Even in one district there can be five different buildings, which means five different administrators and five different councillors,” she said.

Spectrum News 1 caught up with her while she was working with Troy Intermediate students in the Avon Lake City School District.

“Providing services to those who need them most, which is children,” she said.

The way she handles certain aspects of her profession has changed in the nearly 30 years she has been on the job.

“Being 52 instead of 22 – at 22, I wanted to bring everyone home,” she said. “I wanted to get everybody home. I wanted to, you know, fix it all up, way over the top, and then I realized that for my own sanity and one of the big things they talk about when you’re at home. college and you get your support, it’s self-caring.”

It’s hard not to bring home the daily trauma she sees.

“Compassion fatigue is a real, real thing,” she said.

Stacey’s biggest fear throughout the pandemic is that some students who need extra support might fall through the cracks.

Virtual therapy has emerged as an essential tool in bridging the gap, and she knows schools are in great need of these resources.

“So I try to balance the ‘no, you’re not going to save the world,’ but you can make school a safer place,” Stacey said. “And more fun.”

She said social work is difficult and often misunderstood.

“That we only work in terrible situations where we have to take children away from their families, and that’s usually the opposite of what we do,” she said. “We usually try to keep families together. Working on strategies, giving them resources, connecting them, giving them therapy.”

Stacey loves what she does and says the job is rewarding.

“My favorite part is at the end of it all, on my headstone it will be written ‘she made a difference,'” she said.