Child welfare folks tend to be rather shy about using social media tools. I don’t know if it is related to a lack of knowledge and expertise or if it is due to a desire to stay behind the scenes. Or maybe it is because there are much more important things to be doing. The latter may be a good reason, but not good enough, in my opinion.
So here we go with my list of five reasons child welfare professionals need to be blogging!
Reason #1: In the absence of information, there will be misinformation. This goes along with the whole transparency issue. Child welfare agencies and professionals routinely get raked over the coals, in part because people do not understand the rationale behind some of their policies and actions. Relying on the confidentiality excuse does not cut it anymore.
Reason #2: Everybody else is doing it. Or, all the cool kids blog. However you want to look at it, young people and not-so-young people are on-line and using social media to get information. If you want to reach these people, many of whom have networks in the thousands, a presence in ‘their world’ is essential. This is one of those times when it is OK to disregard the admonishment by your parents about following the others who are jumping off the proverbial bridge. Unless of course, you want to stand idly by as other causes are leaping into the water and attracting attention, and dollars, to support their causes.
Reason #3: Wisdom of the crowd, AKA crowdsourcing. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend the book by the same name, Crowdsourcing. Any thoughts you may have about how crowdsourcing doesn’t apply to child welfare and human services in general, will likely be quickly silenced. Much more unlikely candidates (fields) have used crowdsourcing principles very effectively. Blogging offers the opportunity to get ideas ‘out there’ and engage a broad audience in finding solutions to long-standing societal problems. Who knows what great ideas are lurking in the collective unconscious of the world, just waiting for the invitation in the form of a blog?!
Reason #4: If I walk ahead of them, (some) people will follow. I’m not saying everyone will listen if you start blogging, but a well-written blog is likely to attract some followers. And their followers will take note and start following. And you know the rest. Eventually you have a movement of people pressing forward on behalf of your cause; transforming from followers into leaders that propel the issues related to child welfare into the spotlight.
Reason #5: If no one knows what you are doing, why will they care? We want people to care about vulnerable children, about abuse and neglect and the toll it takes on not just children and families, but society as a whole. Here’s the thing, if people aren’t talking about it, how can you expect people to be invested in doing something about it? I’m guessing that most people reading this don’t care much about bees, beyond trying to avoid being stung by the little buzzing critters. But when scientists started talking about the diminishing population of bees and its effect on our ecosystem, people started paying attention. If no one had stepped up and told us we should care about the bees, most of us would continue on in blissful ignorance. Finally people are starting to take note and eco-groups like the Tiny Green Bubble are stepping up and talking about the bees, getting people buzzing! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!)
I know, it took some time for me to get around to connecting the bees with child welfare. What can I say, I wanted to make sure that at least a few people stayed with me to the end of the blog!
Bottom line: If you want to create a buzz around the issues of vulnerable children, you need to be talking about it!