Social workers empower others 

Social workers play a vital role in our schools advocating for students, families and communities. During March—Social Work Month—Dallas ISD celebrates the work these professionals do to meet the needs of students and families.

“A lot of times you have to meet students and families where they are. You can’t go to them with a pious or superior attitude,” said Patricia Washington, a social worker in the district’s Child Find Department. “Sometimes they can’t help the circumstances they’re in and you have to work with them and treat them as you would want someone to treat one of your family members.” 

The theme for this year is “Empowering Social Workers,” as a way to bring awareness to better support social workers. According to the National Association of Social Workers website, it is one of the fastest growing professions in the United States, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that nearly 800,000 people will work as social workers in the United States by 2032, an increase of 7 percent over the decade.

Washington, of two social workers in her department, said that Social Work Month brings awareness to a field that can often be thankless by highlighting all the good things social workers do. 

“Most of us are in this business because we want to help those in need, and we truly care about the needs of others,” Washington said. “I’ve helped connect people to different resources, such as housing, mental health services, food, and so on.” 

Washington, who’s been working for the district since 2015, has been a social worker for over 40 years. Before coming to the district, she worked for the Dallas Police Department in the crisis intervention area. In fact, she started working for the district on the day she retired from the police department. Prior to that, she had worked for Child Protective Services, as well as a federally funded program that helped young mothers and pregnant teens. 

Washington, who graduated from Franklin D. Roosevelt High School, took the opportunity to work in the district as a way of giving back to the community that raised her.  

While Washington says she isn’t someone who expects anything in return, she does recall moments when she felt extremely gratified for doing the work she does. She remembers a time when she helped a mother and daughter mend their relationship after the daughter had suffered some trauma that the mother wasn’t aware of. Washington intervened and helped connect them to services as well as help their relationship. 

“The mom wrote a three-page letter to my supervisor after she found out who my boss was, and let him know how grateful she was and what a difference I had made, and to this day, it is one of my memorable moments, as it was an unexpected surprise,” Washington said. 

Washington said she was made for this kind of work, and she even practices kindness and empathy outside of work. For example, she will sometimes go up to a parent with their child at a grocery store, and say “I’m proud of you.” She had also been a “Big Sister” in the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program for several years, where she mentored a child who is now 21 years old. She recalls the child’s mom being thankful to her for bringing different opportunities to her daughter that she otherwise wouldn’t have been exposed to due to the mother’s disabilities. 

Washington said she inherited her mom’s caring heart to do this kind of work and describes her mom as someone who was always positive and gave others the benefit of the doubt. It’s that same kindness and dependability that Washington is known by her colleagues and the district’s families that she serves, and said that she truly loves the work that she does.

If you would like more information on the work that social workers do, and how you can help bring awareness, visit the National Association of Social Workers website at

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