Social Work Month: Staff Profile – Tamara Turner

  •  March 11, 2020


Tamara Turner, Child Welfare Specialist

Why did you get into social work?

I dreamed of being a social worker from a very young age because of my aunt, who I look up to and who has worked for DCFS for more than 25 years. She used to tell me stories of kids whose parents were unable to take care of them and needed homes. I would say to her “they can stay with me.” She told me at the time that her job was to provide safety for these kids and to help them find homes. I saw the passion and drive she had – and I wanted to have the same passion and drive when I grew up. Then life happened and I had a child at a very young age, so my dream of becoming a social worker went on the back burner for a while.

One day I was sitting at home thinking “what do I want to do with my life?” My daughter was older and in school, and even though I loved my job at the time, I wasn’t happy. I decided to contact Southern Illinois University Edwardsville about their social worker program, went to the campus for a visit and was hooked. I love being a social worker and being able to provide safety for children and reunification to families.

What do you like best about the work you do?

The best part of my job is getting to build a bond with the children and their families, and knowing that I have a small part in ensuring a child is safe.

What is the biggest challenge you face in your work?

The biggest challenge is not having enough time. This job is very demanding and overwhelming at times, making it difficult to ever feel caught up.

Please share a story that showcases why your hard work and the sacrifices are worthwhile.

I worked with a family who had been served by LCFS for two years. From the time I met the parent I knew she was dedicated to getting her children back. This parent struggled with substance abuse and homelessness, but she fought her way back.  What I admired so much about this mother is the fact that although she faced a lot of difficulties, she never once complained about anything she had to do. Being a caseworker is a very hard and stressful job, but the rewards of seeing a parent reunited with their children is indescribable. Knowing that I had a little part in helping reunite this particular family is a wonderful feeling that I will never forget. This was my first family since working in child welfare where a birth parent was reunited with her children. It was a very emotional and gratifying moment in my life and I will never forget it. For me, this is why all the hard work we do as social workers makes the job worthwhile.

Learn how you can support members of our child welfare team.

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