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Posted by communications in Advocacy, Press Room, Social Work in the News

NASW WV Statement: Social Worker Brenda Lee Yeager’s Murder

Social worker Brenda Lee Yeager, 51 of Lincoln County,was tragically killed in the line of duty on Wednesday. Her body was found on Friday and the circumstances of her murder are beginning to come to light.

The members and leaders of the National Association of Social Workers, West Virginia Chapter mourn the loss of our valued colleague and share in the grief of her family and loved ones. We also mourn for the innocent child whose life have been irrevocably altered by this tragedy. It is the highest calling of our profession to utilize our skills, training and expertise to protect society’s most vulnerable citizens. This calling often places social workers in extremely dangerous situations.

The media reports we have seen have shown a great respect for Brenda Yeager as a social worker, and noted that we are often not adequately compensated for the important work we, particularly in the child welfare arena.

We do not know why Brenda was visiting this family alone. We believe this was a scheduled visit to an existing client family. Although policies on field visits vary with the situation, Brenda would probably be alive today has she not called on this family alone. Not only has the life of a dedicated social worker been senselessly lost, but the lives of the child she was trying to protect and the young couple she sought to instruct to be better parents have been irrevocably changed for the worse.

This tragedy will increase the National Association of Social Worker’s commitment to implement better policies, procedures, staffing, training and salaries to prevent it from happening again.

Last year, the State of Kentucky passed social worker safety legislation in the wake of a similar tragedy. During its 2008 Regular Session, the West Virginia Legislature considered, but did not pass, an important bill designed to improve social worker safety. SB 286/HB 4103 would have increased criminal penalties for those who commit felony or misdemeanor assault and battery on CPS or APS (Adult Protective Service) social workers operating in the performance of their duties. If passed, social workers would have been included with law enforcement and other public safety officers, and recognized as often being put in dangerous situations in the course of the work.

The threat of increased criminal penalties may well avert some violent crimes against social workers, but more can be done:

  • Policies and staffing levels should insure that social workers never go alone into potentially violent situations in the field.
  • Social workers should be equipped with self-defense skills and technology to insure their personal safety. GPS systems and ‘panic button’ devices to alert authorities, office safety features such as electronic doors, and interactive data bases allowing social workers to check criminal records before making field visits are all good steps to take.
  • State and federal funds should be applied to insure that social workers – especially those in protective services – are well trained and competitively paid for the important work they do.

For several years, NASW West Virginia has sponsored social worker safety courses to increase awareness, offer safety tips, and improve self-defense skills. We will continue to do so, and we will work to insure that employers provide social workers with the tools needed to do their jobs safely and effectively. More information can be found online at: http://everydayselfdefense.com/

We cannot bring back Brenda Yeager, but we can honor her memory by working to better insure the safety of social workers and those we serve.

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Posted in Advocacy, Press Room, Social Work in the News |

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36 Comments

  1. avatar
    Cherri Castellon Says:
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    Thank you for highlighting this issue. Over the past 13 years I have been in varies situations as a visiting social worker that were extremely dangerous. Thank God I am well, however, not enough is known about the volatile situations social workers go in to. Only when something goes terribly wrong is this issue in the forefront. Thanks again. Cherri Castellon, LCSW, PPSC

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    Yvette Bailey Says:
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    I am so upset to hear about this happening to another social worker. I worked in CPS for over 8 yrs, and strongly recommend defense training, and more pay. We are putting our lives on the line. The majority of us are women. We go out to these homes alone. I’ve walked into homes unannounced, and knew I walked into a potential drug deal. Trust your gut instincts. It could save your life. If you feel uncomfortable, leave!! Go back with the police. The main issue we are facing, is not knowing if you will walk out of some of these homes alive. My prayers go out to Mrs. Yeager’s family. She was just doing her job. When are the laws finally going to change to give sw’s the respect and safety we deserve. I hope something changes soon. How can we protect the children and families, if know one is protecting us??

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    Barbara Ellis Says:
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    This is so upsetting to hear that one of our beloved colleagues lost her life just doing her job. I’ve been a social worker for the past twenty-four years and I still believe in my heart of hearts that we have the hardest and must dangerous jobs in existence. CPS workers especially in New York City are always being critized however, i dare anyone to walk in their shoes just one hour and they will know first hand just what a difficult job these workers endure. My prayers go out to Brenda Yeager and may God bless her family and help them to cope with the untimely death of their loved one. Thank you.

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    Stephanie Rakoczy Says:
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    I am more than pi**ed off about this. Not only did this woman die trying to protect children and NOW people decide to say oh, maybe the state should do something. ARE YOU SERIOUS? My county (I work for a Children and Youth Services agency in PA) constantly sends caseworkers out alone (mostly woman) to residences in places that don’t even have cell phone service so even if we were in danger who would we call? Nobody cares about us and it shows in the way we’re portrayed, the lack of support we receive and the amount of pay we receive. We should have been certified LONG ago to carry weapons or in the very least be trained in some way. People wait until something this brutal happens and then they walk around saying “oh, how could this have happened.” Many times there is no way of knowing (especially on an initial call) whether or not someone is going to be dangerous or under the influence of a substance at the time of a visit. In my eyes, this poor woman’s death is the fault of the state in the way that they value their CYS workers. Wake up!

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    It is upsetting to know that one of our beloved, dedicated, fearless employee lost her life doing the very thing she enjoyed doing the most (helping). Policies relating to home visits should be revisited and modified where one individual does not make a home visit. Police officers wear vests when they enter a problematic family’s home. Why is that we social workers are not protected?

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  6. avatar
    Gary Bachman Says:
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    A senseless tragedy, & a frightening reminder: Violence is a constant threat, not only to the vulnerable populations we serve, but to us as well. Looking back, my heart and prayers go out to Ms. Yeagers family as well as to her co-workers and the families and children with whom she has worked.

    Looking forward I think of the work before us. Congressman Dennis Moore from Kansas has introduced before congress Bill # H.R.2165 the “Teri Zenner Social Worker Safety Act” This bill would allow for the funding of training as well as safety measures specifically for professional social workers. (Terri was a second year MSW student & “adolescent M/H case manager” killed by a client during a home visit. )The bill also also proposes specific criminal penalties for acts of violence against social workers who are engaged in professional activities. It is currently sitting in a committee.

    Details on the bill as well as a list of congressmen & women supporting this bill is available at the following web link. Is your national representative representing YOU? (Rock the vote!)

    For more information: http://congress.org/socialworkers/issues/bills/?bill=10051326&size=full

    Gary Bachman in Kansas

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  7. avatar
    Rose Handon Says:
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    Worker Safety has to become a national public policy matter. As a current doctoral student at Walden University, preparing to conduct research on this subject matter, such efforts will provide additional insight for policymakers and many others on the criticality of training, public policy, and other needs for practitioners in the field. The reported numbers of social workers and child protection agents subject to violence, harm, threats, injury and even death is occurring more than ever before. The question is Why? Federal and other policymakers / stakeholders / lobbyist are urged to assist us as a social work profession in bringing the necessary attention and fiscal resources while we carry out the mission to help at risk children and families. My prayers go out to the Yeager family and to all others who have fallen victim to such senseless crimes.

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    CW3 Stephen Blovat Says:
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    Thank you for all you do – the CPS workers of this great country, you are right, you have a dangerous and tough job, are over worked and under paid. PLEASE!!, take a hand gun self defense class, carry a gun and protect yourself. It is better to be tried by twelve than carried by six. Be safe out there!

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    I am a former LCSW in WV, and am a current licensed psychologist in WV. I worked with Brenda Yeager for about 7 years, from 1881 through 1988. I held her in highest regard. She was a friend. She was intelligent, and so kind, and I am severely troubled by what has happened to her. It is hard to take in. I am so sorry or her friends and family. Bob Martin

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    [...] NASW WV Statement: Social Worker Brenda Lee Yeager’s Murder [...]

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  11. avatar
    J English Says:
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    I have to confess, I’m prompted to respond on two very different levels. From a visceral standpoint, my reaction to this tragedy is one of sheer horror. I worked in the public child welfare arena for many years and this could happen at any time to anyone whose job requires home visits. I’m angry beyond words – or at least words that could be printed in this forum.

    But I am a social worker first and foremost, regardless of the setting. Too often have I seen comments such as Stephen’s (#8) about workers being armed. As a director, I never allowed my workers to carry a weapon – not even pepper spray. On an unaccompanied home visit, the chances that you are outnumbered and could have your own “protection” used against you is too great. Both public and community-based non-profit organizations can scarce afford to routinely send workers out in teams. And after this kind of tragedy, do you think anyone is going to be banging down the door for that kind of work? It might be a great idea, but implementing it is a whole different matter.

    And now pipes up the blog from Fried Social Worker with commentary about when NASW is going to do something about it. Well, I beg to differ. NASW has been clamoring for attention to the issue of safety in the field for some time. In fact, just this spring there was a legislative alert regarding the introduction of the Teri Zenner Social Worker Safety Act (HR2165). Two of the co-sponsors were Representatives from neighboring states who are also social workers. Recently, I received a survey about the use of technology in the field of child welfare from NASW’s Center for Workforce Studies. NASW can write a letter, advise on a policy. But we all know that one letter from the Board President won’t have half the impact on capitol hill as 3,000 letters from social workers in the field, their bosses, their local officials, and the good citizens who care about child well-being.

    I don’t always agree with NASW, but more than that I think it’s time for social workers, whether clinical, or casework, or community-based, or systems-level to stop shooting ourselves in the foot with unnecessary infighting. Maybe it’s time to stop pointing fingers and look at the systems and the greater society which devalue the work we do and only react to such tragedy after it occurs.

    Brenda Yeager’s family and friends, colleagues and community deserve no less. And there is nothing we can say or do now that can explain or mitigate the sick horror in the pit of my stomach except to extend my support to every worker who got up this morning to go to someone’s home in the spirit of service.

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    Chanda Roberts White Says:
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    I share the feelings of horror and disbelief with others. Her killing was a tragedy that will be felt by her friends, family, and community. This tragedy also reminds me of my own attack while removing children from the home by a parent, and I was fortunate to have a police escort. When I transferred to a larger county, the police were never called when removing children from the home; you were own your own.
    We can speak of these tragedies year after year, but social workers need to take the next step and advocate for the profession and the safety and security of all person’s involved in any family visit, including the social worker.
    My prayers go to Ms. Yeager’s family and friends during a difficult time.

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    Your point is well taken, J English (#11)! Legislative efforts and increased funding are great initiatives. But they take time. So the question I ask is this: Is consideration for staff safety a component of ethical social work practice for those social workers who are administrators and supervisors? If the answer is yes, then I’d like to see NASW step up to the plate and put it in the code of ethics.

    Doing so would give a little bit of leverage to those social workers in the trenches whose agencies and supervisors aren’t addressing their safety concerns. Those social workers could at least insist on policies and an administrative response in compliance with the code.

    My point isn’t to rant against NASW or anyone else. It’s that there are lots of social workers out there who are feeling very vulnerable and feeling that their safety needs are being ignored. Are we as a profession going to look outside to legislators and funding sources as the only solution?

    In any case, I offer my deepest sympathies to the Yeager family, her colleagues, and all who are affected by the tragedy.

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    To the family of Brenda Yeager. . .my heart, prayers and thoughts are with you. Bless Brenda Yeager for giving the ultimate sacrifice to serve a child.

    I have worked many dangerous jobs in social work as well, including Child Protective Services in Virginia. Our profession sports the word advocacy. We give our life’s blood to advocate for others yet no power to advocate for our own profession. Caseloads are usually 3x’s the required standard, pay is much to low and the worst of all sins is those we work for would scapegoat us in a second to cover themselves of any wrong doing or poor decision. Social Work is not a respected field, our own government does not see it as a worthy cause. One day there will be a shortage of social workers and the powers that be will be forced to do something about this situation, why not do it now? I myself had a child’s father come after me with a gun and thank God for an observant court clerk who saw the gun inside his jacket and reported it or I would not be here. The state tried to play this death down saying it is an isolated incident but scary unsafe things happens in social workers lives on a daily basis. When the KY social worker died the flag was flown at half staff. While I respect the flag, lets do something besides lowering the flag. Social workers need to stop fearing loosing their jobs and fight for their right to a safer environment, better pay and treatment on their jobs. Stick together. Teachers have their own union that protects their rights, officer have the civil service coverage, nurses fight for their rights and social workers have nothing. Holding a social work license has not produced the respect so what will?

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    I have worked as a social worker in early intervention for 2.5 years now. We work in the most crime ridden area of Boston and go into the homes of our clients for EVERY visit. MOST of our visits are alone. There is NO money to be made for our organization if we go together on all of our visits. Our salary is 24% under positions that are our competitors. The government gave us a 3% raise last year.

    We love our job and what we do, but we are walking into unknown situations ALL the time and are not compensated for the danger we could encounter. A self-defense class has NEVER been offered.

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    As a new social worker, these issues are more than frightening. My heart goes out to Ms. Yeager’s family for the loss, and hopefully something good will come of this horrible incident. As #14 stated, I also believe there needs to be a social work union, and I am quite interested in finding out why there hasn’t been one yet. I just took my clinical exam today, and one of the things I most look forward to as I begin to work toward private practice, is having more control over my own safety. If you don’t play along and follow what your agency wants you to do, you can lose your job, and no one wants to have to keep looking for new employment…The agency I’m at now doesn’t even have a window in my office! I have no way of exiting except past my client due to the structure of the room, and that is scary to me. My family worries about my safety, as other staff members have been assaulted, we have no security whatsoever…social workers will need to step up and start having more self-respect, or the profession will die off due to a combination of fatalities and the simple fact that it won’t feel worth the risk. If I had known that social work would be so unsafe and stressful, I would have pursued my initial interest in becoming psychiatrist, instead of putting myself in such a risky role.

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    To the family and friends of Brenda go our thoughts and prayers. May you be consoled by the knowledge that Brenda was performing a valuable service.

    In sports, most injuries are avoided through training. Social Work is no different. As Social Workers we are obligated to do the best for our clients. We can’t do that while being unsafe, angry, fearful, or dead. If we are unprepared, negative counter transference takes over and we don’t do our job. Expecting someone to save us has never worked. If we think like victims, we are victims. To be the best that we can be requires putting time and money out for training of all types from defense training (how to stay out of trouble) to how to deal with angry, violent or psychotic clients. Sorry, money is not the answer. Even if we could afford a personal bodyguard, it would destroy the transference relationship. There is no area of social work that has ever been given adequate training. We get the basics in school and some form of OJT. From then on, it is up to us to find and utilize the experience and wisdom of those who have the expertise. Its called Continuing Education, the good stuff, not the cheap CEUs.

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    I was involved in worker safety training in Dallas/FW back in the early 90s. The training was developed and provided by front line staff and was very relevant to the experiences of CPS and Foster Care staff.
    Hopefully this won’t be one of those “politically incorrect” topics best left to the large consultant groups who feast on their previous relationships with State Offices across this country.
    This sort of situation should never have occurred. Just last week a mental health agency sent a lone female case manager to do a home visit on a deranged man with an extensive criminal history. She was raped. This was a no brainer in terms of risk. It seems management of organizations are simply trying to keep their client contact count up despite any risk. Perhaps some good old fashioned lawsuits would help.
    My deepest sympathies to the loved ones of the departed social worker.

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    My current position requires me to make home visits, although I do feel fairly safe when going to my clients home ( I work for a community mental health center, majority of my clients live in the Semi-Independent Living homes), but this does concern me that the SB 286/HB 4103 did not pass. We as social workers need to become more involved in policy changes, so history does not repeat itself.

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    Social Workers should be allowed to carry weapons ( if they choose) when entering areas that are high in crime.

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    Today’s best practice is pushing home based social services for all types of social work. This is a response to poor infrastructure (no transportation), extreme poverty among our clients, and so on. And this is a response to government not wanting to spend the money needed to provide for it’s most vulnerable people. In the end, best practice recommendations go back to money and how it is allocated. I have been around a long time and am very tired and sad. I have seen too many people put at risk, too many organizations in it for the profits, too many people doing things for power and prestige, etc. I have considered leaving the field as a result… This poor woman’s death is a reminder of my concerns. As a director of a small therapeutic foster care agency, I worry about it all. The liability falls on people like me – caught between… My prayers go out to the family. May they find solace in the knowledge she was doing God’s work.

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    I am a 15 year veteran of CPS in Kentucky. I was not surprised though greatly heartbroken when I learned the news of another colleague being murdered while making a home visit. My thoughts go out to Ms. Yeager’s family, friends and the clients she served.

    Many points have been made in the postings that make sense (better training, using common sense, tandem visits, hazardous duty pay, having some form of self-defense tool or weapon…). The NASW and others rightly have said that we social workers must make our voices heard and work to mandate federal and state legislative and policy changes that protect social workers. The reality is that states such as Kentucky can pass all the laws they want (the referenced Bonnie Bill of 2007 following Bonnie Fredrick’s murder on a home visit) but if the legislature then cuts funding and fails to enforce the laws it passes, what is the point? Kentucky social workers have seen minimal improvements in worker safety since the Bonnie Bill became law. Each worker does have a cell phone, but many of the cell phones do not have service in the state’s vastly rural and mountainous areas. Staffing has been drastically cut. No training has been provided for self defense. “Budgetary issues” rule out following through with the best laid plans.

    More important things stay on the forefront of Kentucky’s leaders’ minds. Priority is placed on data entry and whether numbers look good on management reports so that “outcomes” are achieved when COA or the feds review cases. Numbers do not reveal quality of casework, nor do they ensure it when the numbers are good. The federal government assesses monetary penalties from states who fail to meet baselines in reviews. So, a state like Kentucky pays penalties because they do not have the state or federal funding to employ enough skilled social workers who are provided with the appropriate tools to ensure their safety. So the cycle of abuse continues within the field.

    So what is the answer? I am not sure. We cannot give up on lobbying and voting for meaningful change. Our work is done in faith and with hope. I promise you that is all that has sustained me.

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  23. avatar
    Ria Collins Says:
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    My heart goes out to the family. This is such a tragic loss. I think many of you are so right that this type of work is just as dangerous as being a cop. There needs to be either law enforcement to accompany workers to homes or either they could go with another worker to ensure better safety. I am not sure if this would even be successful but it is worth a try. They also do need more pay increase, because they are putting their lives on the line. I do also believe in gut feelings and that could possibly prevent some of these tragedies.

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    What about protection from managed care companies? I have been in private practice for 20 years. Several companies I deal with have not increased their reimbursement rate for more than 10 years! Others have decreased theirs by as much as 20% over the past 5 years.

    There definitely needs to be a social workers union. Does anyone know of any actions being taken in this regard?

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  25. avatar
    Bobbie Jones Says:
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    Pretentious: The Right to Bear Arms: Should Not Apply
    Shame on SUE’s response!
    The social worker who thinks social workers should carry guns if they choose is NUTTY! First of all we are not policy officers, and we also knew the profession we were going into. Yes, times have changed. More social workers are being killed in the line of duty; however, the profession should incorporate the buddy system and eliminate home visits all together!! There should be a designated place for clients, provided by agencies, or whatever entity it maybe. HOME VISITS SHOULD BE MADE ON EXTREME OCCASIONS AND SENT TO A “HOME VISIT DIVISION DEPART”. This department would then have guidelines, procedures, safety, and measures for the home visit to occur.

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    Stephanie Rakoczy Says:
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    Bobbie Jones- have you ever WORKED in child welfare???
    First of all, no amount of “buddys” that are with you are going to stop a bullet or being stabbed or whatnot.
    Secondly, our job REQUIRES us to make home visits-especially when the issues deal with inappropriate home conditions. Just as police go to homes, so do child welfare workers and they need to be able to protect themselves -which means carrying a weapon. I may be ignorantly speaking for others, but MANY ppl in child welfare that I know did NOT know when getting in this work that it would be like this. They don’t prepare you for it-you assume that your life is valued in your place of employment while in reality it is not. If you were any kind of social worker, you’d know that there was a disabled child that just died in Philadelphia due to not making home visits and seeing the child. That’s what some people do unfortunately-they lie, they hide children, they downplay or drag out ensure the child is receiving basic needs.
    Sorry, but it’s people like this in our profession who have no clue what child welfare is REALLY like allow this part of the field to continue on in the horrible state that it is in.

    Us social workers need to be on the same page and fight for legislation, fight for change which includes voting in the upcoming election, fighting for legislation to be passed and bugging everyone with influence on getting laws passed to take a serious look at these issues!!!

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    Bobbie Jones Says:
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    Listen Up: Stephanie Rakoczy
    I DON’T HAVE TO BE A DOCTOR WITH CANCER TO TREAT A CANCER PATIENT, DO I? SO YOUR POINT, IF I WORK IN CHILD WELFARE IS BASELESS!!!! So, please let’s move on to the bigger picture.
    You really need to get a grip! Carrying a gun is a quick fix to a deep rooted problem. My heart goes out the young boy who lost his life, due to lack of HOME VISITS. However, I think the lack of home visits was not the primary cause of his death. Let us get really REAL here. I agree with you there are social workers who perform less than adequately; lie about home visits; the guardian puts on a façade–“everything is fine”, and social workers determine all too often with 1 or 2 visits that kid is ok. Bad social workers= a bad agency, poor supervisors, limited funding, and yes, way to ignored by state, and federal government!
    Stephanie your comment was way too personal, “if I was any kind of social work”…what the hick does that mean! I understand you are upset, and deeply affected by our cause, (notice the word “our”, please) but I am not the one to blame.
    Our profession needs to be more involved initiating more grass root organizations.
    My advice to you is that start with– are you ready, drum roll please……ACCOUNTABILITY! If you see something wrong @ your work place– social workers, SPEAK UP! POINT OUT THE BAD APPLES, (all of it, all of them) make EVERYONE ACCOUNTABLE: your colleagues, agencies, heck, if you want things to change Stephanie, how badly do you WANT it. IT ONLY TAKES ONE PERSON NOT ONE GUN!

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    Bobbie Jones Says:
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    One more thing Stephanie R.
    How could you have not known what child welfare was all about! Did you live in a cave? Did ou not have field practicums? My first year my field practicum was in child welfare, and I went to the worst cities and suburbs and homes you could think of. I then knew, after my first year of field practicum, that this was not the job for me? I am amazed that you had no clue of what it was going to be like? Come SR what’s your real story?
    Did you not have field practicums or are you too old

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    Iam a student looking to finish my college career and enter the field of CPS work this is why my parents are against me working in CPS. I can only HOPE that the next administration can prove them wrong.

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    Stephanie Rakoczy Says:
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    Bobbie Jones-what state do you work in? Because no, in the state of PA, people who work in child welfare DO NOT..I repeat…DO NOT do field practicum’s because all they have to have is a Bachelor’s degree-in anything. While I have mine in social work..not many do unfortunately. And even with that, no they don’t prepare you for what you are entering into and nor do they protect your safety. AGAIN, I will say..no amount of “buddys” are going to stop a bullet.
    Another thing-the child that died was a female from Philadelphia…and yes she died because they did not do home visits as she had no other contact with the outside world-was not in school, did not see the doctor, etc.
    And honey, I am not too old lol…I was probably just being born when you started working.
    And trust me in the state of PA it does not just take one person because they whole system is shit.
    We have higher ups who have NO clue what they’re doing-they don’t have any background in social work, they are ex-policemen or ex-attorney’s or god knows what and we’re allowing these ppl to make decisions about practice when they don’t even do it.

    Yes we NEED protection whether it be guns, tasers or whatever. I’m a dedicated social worker, but not at the cost of my own life and mental well being.

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    I discovered an article on Brenda’s death on Monday in an editorial in the Herald Dispatch of Huntington West Virginia. Within the article, were recommendations related to increasing the safety of community workers. What caught my attention was the recommendation of GPS to track the location of the worker. This technology is commonly referred to as Automated Vehicle Location or AVL. This solution has gained some traction within the law enforcement community as a solution for officer safety. The problem with the solution is that is stops at the vehicle and does not offer emergency distress capability. If the worker exits the vehicle they can’t be located, and are unable to notify responders of their situation.

    What does make a difference is the technology referred to as Automated Personnel Location (APL) with Emergency Distress Functionality that allows for a tracking capability to the person, outside the vehicle and the user to press one-button to notify a list of responders of an emergency.

    I began to do some basic internet research on violence against social service workers. First I am unable to locate any current studies related to violence against social workers, while the most recent safety recommendations are 12 years old. See: http://www.socialworkers.org/profession/centennial/violence.htm

    I have contacted the state of West Virginia Health and Human Resources and have offered my services as a subject matter expert and am waiting. In addition, I have contacted the National Association of Social Workers to volunteer my time to sit on a panel to develop a current comprehension safety program, update current violence trends against social workers and develop current technology standards. Please don’t hesitate to contact me directly at andrew@trekserv.com if you have any comments or concerns.

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    Stephanie Rakoczy Says:
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    Andrew,
    Thank you for this post! I commend you on taking the time to research some of this and to follow up by contacting your state’s HHR to offer your services. This is what we need more of-making people aware of the problem. I myself am trying to find some time and ways to do this-I am a full time employee in child welfare, plus getting my MSW plus doing field work so by the time I’m done with all that, the homework and spending a little time with family, there isn’t much time left to spare. I think the Emergency Distress Functionality sounds like a wonderful idea. As I have said before, the state of PA is in an extreme state of failure when it comes to the child welfare system.

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    As a former CPS Supervisor in Washington, DC I am not at all surprized but outraged that upper management, policy makers do not take this seriously. On more than one occassion I was warned against allowing my staff to conduct visits together, due to time management and budget reasons. On numerous occasions we were advised to call 911 for assistance and police never showed up or told me OH WE DON”T go in those neigborhoods unless there is a murder….I WOULD ADVISE MANAGEMENT OF THESE ISSUES AND I WAS TOLD WE HAVE BENCHMARKS TO MAKE SEND THE SOCIAL WORKER OUT!!!!!! THAT SAME DAY MY SOCIAL WORKER WAS GETTING OUT HER CAR AND SHE GOT CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF GUN FIRE!!!!!!!!! Fortunately, she was able to escape without physical harm. I wonder how many of us have to be murdered in the line of duty before the policies and procedures are improved

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    I have found that most available statistics and research related to violence against social workers is dated, remains anecdotal and fails to address the emergence of safety & security technology. Included are my findings, which are contained in my white paper. The best way to address supervisors or management’s inability to grasp a complete understanding of the risk is to notify them of the new technology PRIOR to an event. Then when a situation occurs management can not claim they were unaware of technology that could protect workers in the field. This is why I wrote a white paper on solutions to protect healthcare and social workers. It is available to this website’s users and is free; unfortunately there has been little interest via way of users of this portal, which is troubling. I have offered my services to the leadership of NASW to develop new safety standards, best practices, guidelines without reply. If anyone can tell me how to get NASW attention, please don’t hesitate to tell me.

    Here are my findings which are available in the white paper:

    Each year thousands of workers in the health care and social services industries find them- selves confronted with threats of violence and actual assaults. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), under the classification of “Health Care and Social Assistance” there were 114 workplace fatalities in 2007. Of those 114 fatalities, 15% were attributed to homicide. There were 14 workplace fatalities within the classification of “Healthcare Support Operations” in 2007. This classification includes nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides. Of those 14 fatalities, 36% were attributed to homicide. Additionally, BLS reported that there were 69 homicides in the health services from 1996 to 2000. Although workplace homicides may attract more attention, the vast majority of workplace violence consists of non-fatal assaults. BLS data shows that in 2000, 48 percent of all non-fatal injuries from occupational assaults and violent acts occurred in health care and social services. Most of these occurred in hospitals, nursing and personal care facilities, and residential care services. Nurses, aides, orderlies and attendants suffered the most non-fatal assaults resulting in injury. Injury rates also reveal that health care and social service workers are at high risk of violent assault at work. BLS rates measure the number of events per 10,000 full-time workers—in this case, assaults resulting in injury. In 2000, health service workers overall had an incidence rate of 9.3 for injuries resulting from assaults and violent acts. The rate for social service workers was 15, and for nursing and personal care facility workers, 25. This compares to an overall private sector injury rate of 2.

    Best regards,

    Andrew
    Andrew@trekserv.com

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  35. avatar
    A Social Worker, Always Says:
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    I am sadden by Ms. Yeager’s death, as with any death that happens by someone elses hand. However, I am more sadden that “the powers that be”, NASW, and some who have posted here want to perhaps arm social workers with weapons. NO NO NO. You all are allowing FEAR consume you and direct your actions and feelings. People need to believe in the mission of social workers and how will the consumers/clients feel if they know their social worker is in fear of them? Consumers/clients will start to FEAR you/not TRUST you and they will go inward and will eventually explode in hatred. This is EXACTLY what contributed to Ms. Yeager’s death. This is a horrible idea and goes against everything that social work stands for. This direction is going to harm more people then help them. People are hurting, and what these hurting people need are kind, understanding, honest, OPEN, trustworthy professional individuals that actually give a damn. Yet, as what the NASW and everyone here is advocating for, is just another bunch of rules/policy that is self-centered and narrow-minded, and not what is the best interest of those that are in need of social workers. I am sorry, but people will not respect the profession and it will be seen as just a bunch of uncaring people that make money helping no one. Why do you think there is such a negative asscoiation now? Think about it, please. If you are in fear, and the fear inhibites you from being able to help someone, please cease being a social worker. Remember why you wanted to be a social worker in the first place.

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    With all of this talk, arguing, and bickering going on, there’s a question I think needs to be asked: Which is more important – your safety or the life of a child? I thought people became social workers for a reason – to help and save people’s lives.

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