2, 2001 (Lexington, Ky.) --
Linda Tackett's life changed when her father was disabled
at work when she was a child. But what could have
destroyed the family didn't, thanks to the help and
support of social workers. Tackett's father went through
vocational rehabilitation, earned college degrees
in math and computer science and kept the family on
a great standard for our family," Tackett said. "If
the vocational rehabilitation and the help we received
from social workers had not been there, I'm not sure
what would have happened."
a social work student at the University of Kentucky,
is living up to her father's standard and planning
to repay the help her family received. She is one
of 24 students at UK and five at Lexington Community
College participating in UK's Public Child Welfare
Certification Program, a cooperative effort of the
Kentucky Cabinet for Families and Children and 10
undergraduate social work programs around the state.
prepares professional bachelor's level social work
students for employment in Kentucky's Child Welfare
is funded by the cabinet through a federal grant and
pays the students' tuition for up to four years and
gives them $1,300 per semester for books, living expenses
an enormous investment in our students by the state
and by the participating schools," said Dinah Anderson,
UK's coordinator of the program and a social work
needs good professional people who can enter child
welfare and protection confident that they can do
the work and ready to hit the ground running. Child
protection is the toughest job in the field, and that
causes a lot of turnover."
genesis came in 1996 when Cabinet for Families and
Children Secretary Viola Miller spoke to the Kentucky
Association of Social Work Educators, telling the
group of the state's need in child protection and
welfare. Six universities, including UK, designed
what would become the certification program to address
requires social work students take child welfare courses,
participate in a practicum with a state-administered
child protection agency, receive approximately 8.5
days of the cabinet's protective services training
and attend semester retreats.
each of the schools selected 10 students. Today, 137
students are participating in the program at 10 universities
across the state.
the students are given priority consideration for
employment with the cabinet and must work for the
Department for Community Based Services for two years.
The program's graduates also enter the work force
at a higher level and pay than other social work graduates
or people who have gone through state training to
become social workers.
said the program helps give students a real-life look
at the job of child protection agents, making sure
this career's for them. In the end, students who complete
the program are very dedicated to their job and have
the skills needed to face many tough situations -
the cabinet has dedicated, knowledgeable employees
and Kentucky children have determined advocates such
as Linda Tackett.
the summer, Tackett did a 15 weeks of an eight-week
practicum with Knott County Protection and Permanency.
She learned about the teamwork needed to help children
and experienced some of the heart-wrenching cases
textbooks told her were out there. She saw happy endings,
mistakes and helpless cases. She's determined to return
when she graduates in May.
a passion for children and for helping those who are
less fortunate," she said. "I've had the experience
and seen others who have had a rough life. I want
to go into Eastern Kentucky and try to make a difference
information about the program at UK, contact the UK
College of Social Work, 627 Patterson Office Tower,
Lexington, KY 40506; (859) 323-7484.