Area social worker awarded for hard work - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Area social worker awarded for hard work

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by Meg Bonacorsi

MARATHON COUNTY (WAOW) -- Being a social worker isn't easy.

It often involves crisis situations and devastating cases of abuse and neglect.

But a Marathon County woman helped jump start a program to intervene before any of that happens.

Now, she's being recognized for her hard work.

When a call comes in to social services, workers can only intervene if something illegal is happening in a home.

But just because actions are legal, doesn't mean they're right.

That's why Jess Bowers helped start Community Response within Marathon County Social Services.

Bowers says, "When there is stress in a house that's going to impact your relationships and impact your ability to parent the way that you would like to.  The goal of my program is to offer voluntary services to a family and really do outreach and partner with the family."

And the hope is if we can eliminate those risks and diminish child maltreatment, and kids will be more safe.

Jess's supervisor can't help but notice the success of Community Response.

Carolie Fox says, "This is the kind of program that can really head off future problems and keep families out of the system."

That's why she nominated Jess for Wisconsin's Caring For Kids Award.

Jess ended up winning, receiving her award this week.

Fox says, "She is really someone who has brought her whole expertise and her engagement skills, her great interviewing skills."

Jess spends her days meeting with families, finding them jobs, counseling, even transportation.

Together, they set long and short term goals to relieve the stresses, that for some, are just too much to handle.

Bowers says, "I think when you can step in and offer some support and link a family to resources and watch a family really help themselves, that is really rewarding."

Community Response started up in September 2008 and is funded through state grants.

Jess has helped over 100 families so far.

Online Reporter: Meg Bonacorsi

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