March: Social worker month
Published 11:32 pm Thursday, March 16, 2006
Special to the Advance
Whether the victim is a child, an elderly person or a disabled adult, abuse is a crime that is dealt with most effectively when there is heightened public awareness. Unfortunately, abuse and neglect of disabled adults and the elderly sometimes don't receive the media attention given to cases involving child victims. Because they are often isolated, immobile or both, these vulnerable adults could very easily become forgotten victims.
Fortunately, their safety and well-being are always the top priority for adult protective service workers with the Department of Human Resources (DHR). Governor Bob Riley's proclamation of March as Professional Social Work Month provides the perfect opportunity to recognize and commend these dedicated public servants, according to state DHR Commissioner Page Walley.
The National Conference of Social Work is focusing on the growing demand for services for aging baby boomers, as part of this year's observance of Professional Social Work Month. Baby boomers – people born between 1946 and 1964 – represent 27 percent of the population.
"This observance focuses on the important contributions of those who have chosen this very noble profession," Walley said. "From investigating reports of suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation to arranging services to protect vulnerable adults, professional social workers respond with integrity, compassion and concern."
"No one performs with greater distinction than our agency's adult protective service workers," Walley said. "They patiently work through the special challenges that can arise when the victim is either unwilling or unable to provide the information necessary to assist them."
Escambia County DHR director, Lynn Barnes agrees that the agency's adult protective service workers deserve special recognition.
"With diligence, determination and compassion, they respond to the needs of these vulnerable members of our community," Barnes said.
Some elderly or disabled people are victimized by their own children or by other relatives.
"It is not unusual for them to be subjected to financial exploitation by people who use threats of physical harm to ensure their silence," Barnes said. "Others are victims of self-neglect due to physical or mental limitations."
"Our adult protective service staff know that the work they do can truly make a difference in the lives of these vulnerable adults," Barnes said. "They work closely with our community partners who bring these situations to our attention. For their commitment to public service, our adult protective workers and supervisors deserve this special recognition during Professional Social Work Month."
To report suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation of disabled adults or the elderly, contact the Escambia County Department of Human Resources at 251-809-2000 or call 1-800-458-7214.
The following was a press released issued Tuesday morning by the Escambia County Department of Human Resources.