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In Praise of ADS Social Workers

Social Work Breaks Barriers

Social work is a fast-growing profession in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More than 700,000 social workers are employed nationwide. Dozens are employed by the Aging and Disability Services division of the City of Seattle’s Human Services Department.

According to the National Association of Social Workers, social work began more than a century ago:

“The profession can trace a large part of its origins to Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Star, who in 1889 opened Hull House in Chicago to provide social services to the area, which had a large immigrant population.  Other social work pioneers included anti-lynching advocate and women’s rights activist Ida B. Wells and George Edmund Haynes, a social worker who was co-founder of the National Urban League. In the 1960s, past NASW President Whitney M. Young Jr., worked in collaboration with President Johnson and other leaders during the turbulent Civil Rights era to break down the barrier of employment discrimination so Black people could get access to better paying jobs. Social workers have helped drive significant, positive changes in our nation. Frances Perkins, the first female Labor Secretary during the Great Depression, and others helped secure benefits we continue to see used today, such as the 40-hour work week, minimum wage, and Social Security benefits.”

In March, we celebrate National Social Work Month. I want to personally thank everyone involved in social work at Aging and Disability Services (ADS) for making a significant difference in the lives of our clients—primarily older people and adults with disabilities but also caregivers and family members of all ages.

Primarily, ADS social workers are engaged in our Care Coordination Programs—Medicaid case management, caregiver support, and more. ADS contracts with community-based organizations that employ social workers, too, including our Community Living Connections partners. ADS also employs planners, contract specialists, and others, many of whom hold Master of Social Work degrees. They all have something in common: All are caring, compassionate problem-solvers who put heart and soul into their work.

Our case managers engage with individuals, families, health care providers, and social service professionals to get clients the services and supports they need, when and where they need it. They collaborate with nurses and social service aides on our staff. They support clients in finding professional caregivers. They arrange durable medical equipment and other supplies necessary for clients to remain living in their homes. They are expert listeners and extremely resourceful. Each year, approximately 15,000 individuals receive in-home care assessments, thanks to ADS case managers and care coordinators and those in our network.

One of our social workers is assigned to support older people at risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Several are assigned to travel with Seattle Fire Department staff on the Health One rigs. One of our teams supports clients who live in Seattle Housing Authority buildings. We have found countless opportunities to collaborate with legal, heath care, housing, and public safety professionals to support people in need.

How does one access care from these amazing people? Often, the best place to start is Community Living Connections. They are a “front door” to ADS services and supports. Calls and consultations are professional, confidential, and free of charge. Community Living Connections can initiate an application for case management program support, refer to caregiver specialists or other services we offer, or to a vast array of community-based services that can help meet the needs of older people, adults with disabilities, and caregivers. Access Community Living Connections by calling (toll-free) 844-348-5464 or visiting

I invite you to read some previous AgeWise articles written about or by ADS social workers:

If you or someone you know would be interested in joining our team, you can find job opportunities here.

Mary MitchellContributor Mary Mitchell directs Aging and Disability Services, a division of the Seattle Human Services Department that is designated by the State of Washington as the Area Agency on Aging for Seattle and King County.

Posted in Services