Social Workers Help Children, Families, Vulnerable Adults in Need

For Immediate Release:
March 15, 2013

Nicole Stookey
Northwest Region Communication Director
(850) 509-2675

Social Workers Help Children, Families, Vulnerable Adults in Need
DCF recognizes employees for National Professional Social Work Month

TALLAHASSEE— Jennifer Parker, a Child Protective Investigator in Santa Rosa County, recently received a report about a three-year-old who sustained severe chemical burns after drinking from a sippy cup filled with liquids used to manufacture methamphetamine. Jennifer spent hours making arrangements for the sick child to see his older brothers during the lengthy hospital stay. Jennifer took the brothers to the hospital and was there to see the boy’s face light up when seeing his siblings.

This is just one of thousands of examples of what our employees at the Department of Children and Families do every single day. March is National Professional Social Work Month, a time for government and nonprofit organizations to highlight the efforts of our social workers.

“This month is a great opportunity to show appreciation to all of the social workers in our lives,” said Secretary David Wilkins. “I want to thank all of our employees and our partners who work so hard to keep children and families safe, provide critical assistance to those in need, and treat individuals with substance abuse and mental health problems.”

Professional social workers are found in every facet of community life—in schools, hospitals, mental health clinics, senior centers, elected office, prisons, military, corporations, and in numerous public and private agencies that serve families in need.

Taylor Leonard, a counselor in Adult Protective Services in Tampa, helped an elderly client with breast cancer. Our client did not seek treatment after her diagnosis because she had no health insurance and did not qualify for medical benefits. Unwilling to accept the client’s plight, Taylor contacted Moffitt Cancer Center and they accepted the woman as a charity patient. Our client is now receiving the cancer treatment she needs.

In 2012, our agency investigated more than 180,000 allegations of child abuse and neglect. Our adult protective services investigated more than 45,000 cases of abuse, neglect and exploitation of vulnerable adults. Our Customer Call Centers receive about 2.2 million calls every month from our clients in need.

Jenny Soriano-Priestly, a training manager in Miami, saved a family to ready give up on each other. The grandparents disapproved of the hard-partying ways and irresponsible behavior of their granddaughter, a teenage mom living in their home. Jenny quickly got the grandparents and young mother the help they needed. Jenny still keeps in touch with the grandparents and they happily share the progress made by their granddaughter and great grandchild.

Gov. Rick Scott signed a proclamation this month to recognize March as National Professional Social Work Month in Florida. That proclamation is attached.

For more examples of how our employees and partners give a hand up to families and individuals in need, please visit the DCF blog at

Social Work Proclamation