Social workers in short supply

Published 1:15 am Thursday, October 19, 2017

There’s a shortage of social workers across the state, and Covington County’s Department of Human Resources is no different.

DHR Director Lesa Syler addressed the Andalusia Lions Club on Wednesday.

“You all have family members and kids starting to look at what are they going to do as far as choosing a career path,” she said. “Social work is a field that I hope more will begin to consider in Covington County. We have grown over the last five or six years. We have about 45 staff members in our financial and child welfare programs. Our child welfare has grown from seven to nine to 17 or 18 on any given day.”

Syler said that it’s a statewide trend for the need for social workers.

“I don’t know of any county director who isn’t facing issues with hiring,” she said. “We have a true need for social workers here and unfortunately, it’s not a field that many people are going into. I currently have five positions open in that unit and it is very limited to those who are willing to do that work or are interested in that work.”

Syler said that a person in social work has to have a heart for children and service.

“I tell people we have a mission field right here in Covington County,” she said. “We are doing it every day.”

She said that her staff doesn’t do the job for the money.

“It’s about so much more than that,” she said. “What we can give back to the community. Taking care of a child. I have so many children who are mine. Those connections with those kids are worth so much more.”

Syler said that they have had some turnover lately.

“It’s very difficult work,” she said. “It’s hard to adjust to the fast pace and hard demand.”

She said she recently had an employee remind her that “nothing worth doing isn’t hard.”

Syler said a bachelor’s degree is required with social work being the preferred degree, but social services and even education is acceptable.

There are jobs open as a social worker and social service caseworker.

According to the state personnel website, where those interested in applying for the job must make application, a social service caseworker’s salary ranges from $29,954.40-$47,757.60.

A social worker’s salary ranges from $31,488-$48,924, and a senior social worker ranges from $35,589.60-$53,992.20.

Syler explained that’s a state job and that the salary is based on experience and employees receive state benefits.

To apply, visit: