Social workers speak with offenders at Ventura Youth Correctional Facility.

Social workers speak with offenders at Ventura Youth Correctional Facility.

By Joe Orlando, Public Information Officer, Office of Public and Employee Communications
and Karette Fussell, Public Information Officer, Ventura Youth Correctional Facility

“I am a social worker. What’s your super power?” The question inspired a lively discussion at Ventura Youth Correctional Facility (VYCF). Parole Agent III Robin Hatter, who has a master’s degree in social work, led the discussion at a monthly meeting covering a variety of issues including celebrating Social Work Appreciation Month and Mental Health Awareness Month.

The 13 social workers at VYCF were inspired by a presentation given by Dr. Anna Scheyett.

“We have well over 600,000 super heroes in the U.S. alone, we just call them social workers,” Scheyett explained.

Of the 13 social workers at VYCF, most are Casework Specialists or Supervising Casework Specialists.

“Social workers are not just nice people with big hearts, they are educated professionals doing very meaningful work in our communities,” Scheyett said.

She said social workers are dynamic change agents. They are armed with master’s degrees in social work from accredited schools of higher learning that enable them to psychologically and intellectually dismantle cogs of unwieldy, bureaucratic social constructs that impede progress.

Scheyett told the gathering, “The mission of social work is to encourage and to promote community well-being and fight social injustice.”

Throughout the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), the Integrated Behavior Treatment Model (IBTM) is at the core of clinical services incorporated at every level of treatment at all four facilities.

Treatment teams including social workers and mental health specialists implement IBTM as a risk/needs assessment tool that is customized for the DJJ population. Utilization of the assessment information is used to develop case plans for the youth and is designed to reduce the risk of re-offense and increase skills.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates social work is one of the fastest growing professions in the U.S. with 650,000 people presently holding a social work degree. Professional social workers were the United States’ largest providers of mental health services in 2013, making up about 60 percent of mental health providers. The social work profession is expected to grow by 22 percent in 2016.

Scheyett told the crowd, “70 percent of mental health services in this country are provided by social workers. Never lose sight of the super powers you have, and what you mean to the people you help.”