Wright continues work in child welfare after career in human services

Carol Wright, MSSW ‘97
Facilitator at the Center for Play Therapy and Retired Social Worker

Carol Wright came to the UW School of Social Work master’s program sixteen years after receiving her undergraduate degree in Sociology. After graduation, she worked in a county human services department in Wisconsin, first as a social worker in child welfare and later as the department’s director. She retired from the department in 2009. Currently, Wright is a contractor with non-profit organizations throughout Dane County, including the Center for Play Therapy, where she facilitates programs like family education groups and children’s day camps.


What originally inspired you to become a social worker?

I grew up in a suburb of Chicago. During my elementary years, I didn’t understand why people treated others differently, as though they were not as good as the white middle class. In high school, inequality in the treatment of students and others became abundantly clear to me. I became interested in working in nearby communities to obtain a better understanding of social relationships and the environment. I wanted to be an advocate for the underserved, less fortunate, and those in need.


I wanted to be an advocate for the underserved, less fortunate, and those in need.

Walk us through a typical day in the life at your job.

The human services agency I worked for provides services on aging, economic support, long-term support, children and families, juvenile court, mental health, alcohol and other drug abuse, and the Birth to 3 Program.


As a social worker for the department, the typical day would start by checking in on what happened overnight, such as any children placed in custody or any juveniles sent to juvenile facilities. I would do a lot of paperwork. We usually had staff meetings once a week. Out in the field, I did in-home visits for things like the Birth to 3 Program, or following up on a Child Protective Services investigation. I was the client’s advocate. I was on-call for emergencies related to children, and we had to go out to the home and, unfortunately, take children into custody and find foster homes. I did home visits with the kids, and the hardest thing was seeing children in the worst conditions, both in the physical environment and in their health. But then, you get used to it. I usually had court appearances for anything that goes through the process of a child protective services case. I’ve gone through court for termination parental rights. I also went to schools, met with kids and ran some once-a-week groups for youth and teens, and one-on-one meetings with the kid and families.


As director of the department, I oversaw and was deeply involved in the agency operations. I also held chairperson and committee memberships to many state and county workgroups. I attended meetings for the state and county, as well as for department administration. Being in a small county, I would assist caseworkers should a supervisor not be available, or work through a case with the supervisor and caseworker. Most importantly, throughout each day, I tried to keep an upbeat attitude with all staff.


How would you say your social work background has affected the way you practice your current career?

Though retired from a traditional social work job, I feel my passion is to continue, in some capacity, working with children in need and at risk. At UW, I obtained a wealth of knowledge in many areas of social work, especially child welfare. My internships provided me with a deeper understanding in working with this vulnerable population. My previous experience has provided me with the tools to be an effective consultant and facilitator. I only want to continue educating myself in this area of social work that I may better serve children and families.

Last edited by karnaky on Tuesday, February 03, 2015 | Printer Friendly Version