(Editor’s note: The following story was submitted in honor of National Social Work Month, recognizing social workers every March.)
By Karette Fussell, Supervising Case Work Specialist
At Ventura Youth Correctional Facility (VYCF), social workers are peace officers armed with a master’s in social work.
Social workers are trained to use an innovative, evidence-based Rogerian approach that starts with the client. We look at where the client is in assessing complex emotional problems through a “Bio-Psycho-Social” lens.
The social work staff have a strong mental health background, utilizing various psychological approaches. Whether cognitive, behavioral, psycho-dynamic or humanistic, they bring situations into focus, resulting in a positive outcome. They are mindful of policies and procedures, helping our youths develop social responsibility through rehabilitation.
They are adept at working with our youthful and culturally diverse population.
Many of our youth are from lower socio-economic backgrounds with significant criminogenic challenges. Many of those in our care struggle with substance abuse, generational gang entrenchment, mental health problems, physical and sexual abuse, family re-integration issues and trauma.
VYCF social workers use counseling, assessment and case management skills to complete clinical reports, and effectively handle and advocate for youth as they transition from victimizing others to becoming productive citizens.
There are many parallels between Integrated Behavior Treatment Model (IBTM) and a formal social work education. IBTM drives treatment at the Division of Juvenile Justice and reflects a paradigm shift to positive reinforcement to decrease recidivism.
VYCF social workers are instrumental in implementing the IBTM. Many of its concepts, like positive reinforcement and Motivational Interviewing, are social work cornerstones.
Did you know? In 1984, President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation recognizing March as Social Work Month. The observation has continued every year since.