Carolyn Perkins is the new full-time faculty member for CR’s new Social Work & Human Services AA degree and transfer program. Carolyn graduated from Humboldt State University’s social work program, earning her bachelor’s degree before heading to Hawaii, where she earned her MSW in social work at the University of Manoah.
She lived in Santa Cruz a short time before moving back to Humboldt, where she worked as an Indian Child Welfare Advocate with a local tribe. Carolyn is passionate about working with the local indigenous community, and making sure that they are included in the conversations around the future of their children, families and communities. She worked for the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) for 20 years providing concurrent planning services for the foster children of Del Norte, Humboldt, Trinity, and Mendocino counties.
Carolyn chose the field of social work because she always knew she wanted to help others and give back to her community. She likes that the field of Social Work stands apart from other helping professions due to its call to advocacy and helping to shape the policies and programs for those in need. This is a key part of the National Associate of Social Workers code of ethics, which calls for Social Workers to advocate for lasting change, giving a voice to under-represented communities.
She’s not new to teaching, having previously been with the Foster Kinship program at CR, which she continued, in addition to her work with the CDSS, for 6 years. For the past six years, which continuied at the CDSS, Carolyn also worked as a lecturer with the HSU’s Social Work department.
There is a real need for social workers in our area and a much greater understanding of the impact that social work can have on issues facing our communities than ever before. Key components of the Social Work and Human Services program include recognizing the importance of cultural humility, understanding the key tenets of social work practice, and staying current with trends in the field. Students will leave this program understanding the generalist practice approach, which allows them to have skills that span across many areas of social work practice. In a field that is known for it’s rate of burnout, these skills will help CR’s students enter the field prepared to find success in their careers for years to come.
Carolyn’s hope for the program is to help students understand the wide array of career opportunities afforded to them through this field of study, while also connecting students to on-the-ground field experiences within our community. This opportunity for hands on experience will allow students the chance to practice the skills learned in the classroom, while also helping students to understand the specific services and needs of our community. In turn this also provides students with opportunities to network with potential employment opportunities once they leave the program. This increase in the number of trained social workers in the community will have a tremendous impact on the service delivery that our local social work and human service agencies can provide to the people of the north coast.
She says the AA program is a great opportunity to get students one-step closer to employment in the social work field. “In just two years, students can walk into a job in their field,” says Carolyn. “Career opportunities are exploding in the social work field, with 13% growth expected over the next decade.”
“There’s a myth that social workers can’t make a living wage,” says Carolyn. “They can easily make that and greater if committed to going through their education in the entirety. The average pay for a trained social worker in Humboldt County is equal to or above the average salary in the area.”