It takes a village. That’s how the saying goes, and it’s no less true today than it was thousands of years ago. Parenting was never something that we were meant to do alone. Whether you have a partner, friends, siblings, parents, older children, or even paid helpers like day care teachers, nannies, and/or medical professionals at your side, you have a team. And that team is there for you just as much as they are there for your child.
The role of social workers is often misunderstood by people who have never had a social worker in their life. You might have an image in your mind of social workers at Child Protective Services, but Chicago social workers can also work with children in loving homes who need a little extra support.
If you have a child with special needs, hopefully you already have a social worker on your “team.” You might have come into contact with a social worker through your child’s doctor or their school. Or a social worker could be recommended by your child’s occupational or physical therapist. Here at PTN, we have a highly experienced social worker on our team who regularly supports families with special needs children.
But what does a social worker actually do? Here are four broad ways that a social worker could support your child and, just as importantly, you.
- Social workers connect you with services.
One of the main jobs of an early intervention social worker is to make sure that you have the resources that you need and are entitled to in order to properly care for your child. Social workers have deep knowledge of federal, state, and local programs that could offer help paying medical bills, support getting your child into an appropriate school, and even provide equipment you might need at home.
- Social workers help you navigate the system.
One of the most frustrating parts of being a parent of a special needs child is all of the people who will tell you “no.” Your child can’t do this. Your child doesn’t qualify for that. Whatever it may be, a social worker can help you overcome obstacles and find new paths to the services and programs that you need.
- Social workers provide parenting support.
What should you do when your child bites? How should you respond when they start screaming in public? These sorts of situations are complicated and stressful, but a social worker can help teach you proven methods for parenting your special needs child in a loving and supportive manner.
- Social workers provide emotional support.
Your child’s social worker is there for you, too. They’re a shoulder to lean on, a sounding board to trust. They want your child to be happy and healthy, and supporting your emotional journey is a big part of that.
If you’re interested in meeting with social workers in Chicago, contact the PTN team. We can provide you with more information and set up an appointment to learn first hand how a social worker could become part of your team.