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Press Release
County of Orange Seal COUNTY OF ORANGE

Social Services Agency
March 12, 2001
Contact: Debbie Cumutt
March Declared Social Worker Month
(Santa Ana) - Tomorrow at the regular meeting of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, Chair Cynthia P. Coad will present a resolution recognizing March as Social Work Month in Orange County.

Larry Leaman, Director of the Social Services Agency (SSA), and Julie Poulson, Interim Director of the Health Care Agency (HCA), will accept the resolution on behalf of social workers. "Honoring these social workers during March is a way to publicly acknowledge their professionalism and dedication to their field," said Leaman. "Literally thousands of lives in Orange County are touched by their work every year."

The resolution honors the more than 975 social workers in Orange County who provide services that protect children and the elderly from neglect, abuse and exploitation. They also provide clinical services that range from mental health to substance abuse counseling for children through adults. Other services assist welfare-dependent citizens and newly resettled immigrants to become independent and self-sufficient through employment.

One such success story is that of a married couple who approached SSA for assistance when they immigrated to the United States. The husband had been a cabinetmaker and his wife a judge in their native country. Upon entering the county, the husband was employed in a manufacturing plant and his wife in various part-time jobs. After a layoff at the plant, he found a job with a kitchen remodeling company where he could use his previous work experience and skill, and his wife was hired as a dental receptionist. Cash assistance, bus passes and housing vouchers eased their transition to independence and self-sufficiency. Ttwo months after starting their new jobs, they no longer required assistance.

SSA's Adult Services division provides support for frail elderly clients to help them live at home rather than in an institution. When an 80-year-old man who had lost his sight and his 80-year-old wife who suffered from severe osteoporosis went to live with their adult son and daughter-in-law, financial assistance from In-Home Supportive Services enabled them to hire a family friend to provide in-home care while the son and daughter-in-law were at work.

When the client's husband passed away and the widow began having blackout episodes, she was referred to the Multipurpose Senior Services Program for more intensive services. Her social worker was able to authorize an emergency call device so that she can remain safely alone when the in-home service provider and adult children are not at home.

The talents and resourcefulness of a social worker are valuable when unusual circumstances threaten family unity. When SSA?s Children and Family Services division received a call that children were about to be removed from their home due to unlivable conditions, the social worker worked with their parents and the landlord and made arrangements for the children to live with an uncle while major repairs were made to the apartment. He also worked with the Regional Center to assist both parents, who were disabled, to move their belongings and stay in a motel during the repairs. His actions prevented removing the children from the home and placing them in protective custody.

Approximately 35 social workers from the Social Services Agency and Health Care Agency will attend tomorrow?s Board meeting to represent the social work staff throughout the County of Orange.