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How Social Workers Break Barriers

Social work is essential for strengthening families, preventing abuse and neglect, and improving mental health wellness. From these individual transformations within families and childhood to advocating for policy change, social workers are breaking barriers in communities across the world every day!

We love celebrating and honoring the social workers who dedicate their lives to the Missouri community, and Social Work Month is just one more opportunity to show our appreciation. Join us as we celebrate how social workers have advanced the field, and see how those evolutions are influencing our work at KVC Missouri.

Historical Importance of Social Work

While not every social worker will land in the history books, it is important to celebrate the many ways that social workers have been change makers in the United States for decades — breaking barriers personally and professionally through their passion for a better society. Here are just a few examples of how social workers have historically hurdled obstacles to serve those in need:

  • Social Security and minimum wage: Created by social worker and Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, also the first woman to serve in a Presidential cabinet

    social work breaks barriers

    Frances Perkins 

  • The Civil Rights movement: Several social workers, including Lester Granger, Dorothy Height, Whitney Young Jr. and Tsuguo “Ike” Ikeda, fought against racism as Civil Rights leaders
  • Medicare: Harold Hagen pushed for Medicare in the 1960s, elevating equitable access to health care

Today, social workers continue pushing for justice and equality, breaking barriers of race, gender identity, sexual orientation and even mass incarceration to guide communities towards a better future.

The Evolution of Social Work

Social work is an ever-evolving field. As the social work landscape continues to advance in serving children and families, social workers have adapted accordingly to deliver excellent care on the front lines of communities. 

Carley Ohmdtede, LMSW, Prevention Program Manager

Carley Ohmdtede, LMSW, KVC Missouri Prevention Program Manager, has been with KVC for several years, and has enjoyed experiencing how the social work field has broken barriers. Carley notes a key evolution she has witnessed in recent years within the foster care system. Family reunification/reintegration has always been a top priority, and Carley has witnessed this become even more important.

Studies have revealed that reintegration after foster care leads children and families to greater success. While adoption may be the right choice for some children when reunification isn’t possible, reintegration is many children’s first goal. The reunification process has advanced as well, empowering caregivers and youth to be more successful as a family unit. Carley notes that cases are managed more frequently within the home, freeing up referrals for more crucial, immediate situations.

“This is more productive because we can really focus on kids who are truly needing immediate safety and stability,” Carley explains. 

How KVC Missouri is Evolving Social Work

Along with the rest of the social work team, Carley is working on creating some new programs at KVC Missouri specifically designed to address the needs of families today. Both of these programs are designed to ensure the success of children and families working with KVC, preventing future setbacks and creating stability for everyone involved.

Aftercare Program

When children and teens discharge from a residential setting like a Camber Children’s Mental Health treatment center or other qualified residential treatment (QRTP) program, they could experience challenges transitioning back into their community. KVC Missouri’s Aftercare Family Services program will provide about six months of intensive support to children and teens after their discharge from a treatment center. Program staff will work with youth and their families to ensure they’re engaging in community resources and help smooth the transition out of residential care.

Prevention-Focused Support

Prevention-focused support aids families before they reach a crisis that necessitates foster care. Carley is passionate about helping families and children experiencing challenges in order to prevent the need for out of home care. She helps them set goals and strengthen their family and community ties. KVC provides resources to solve problems and improve families’ situations before further services are needed. 

“I’m really excited to see where KVC Missouri is going to go,” Carley shares. “I’m excited to expand and see where we can help.”

Why Social Workers Love KVC

social work breaks barriersAt KVC Missouri, the support for social workers and families is strong. Social work is a uniquely challenging field, with workers prone to burnout and compassion fatigue. This is why we provide as much support as possible and cultivate a healthy work environment where our team can feel safe and encouraged. 

Carley has been with KVC her entire adult career, beginning right after college in 2016. She remains at KVC because of the immense support she has experienced. “I’ve always had such a supportive environment with KVC, especially from my supervisors,” she says. “Anytime I have had an idea, my supervisors have heard me out, collaborated with me and valued what I had to share.”

Carley is also quick to note the culture of belonging at KVC. “I will tell anyone who asks — there is no ‘normal’ at KVC,” she says. “No matter your background, you’re going to fit in. Here, you’re able to make connections and feel encouraged by your coworkers.”

At KVC, our goal is to empower and cultivate social workers with a passion and drive to tackle the difficult days and painful cases. It may not always be easy, but our leadership team is committed to uplifting our staff members at every turn.

Join the KVC Team

Want to work with a team of people who share a commitment to serving Missouri children and families? We’re actively hiring! Social workers at KVC enjoy belonging to a close-knit team and feeling the deep sense of meaning that comes from providing life-changing help to children and families.

social work breaks barriers

KVC team members receive many benefits, including:

  • Competitive pay and benefits package
  • Flexible hybrid and work-from-home jobs
  • Medical plans with generous employer contribution and free employee dental insurance
  • 403(b) Retirement Plan with immediate company match and only a one-year vesting period requirement
  • Employer-paid group life and disability coverage
  • Tuition and CEU Reimbursement
  • Generous combination of paid time off and holidays
  • A positive, supportive culture where employee opinions count
  • Commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging
  • Fun including meals, parties and casual get-togethers
  • Ongoing training and learning opportunities

See the available social work positions at KVC Missouri to join us in breaking barriers in our community!


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