A Day in the Life of a Social Worker in… Taoyuan, Taiwan

We continue our series in celebration of World Social Work Day by returning to Taiwan this morning. Chia-Chien Yu is a social worker at Taoyuan CCF (Taiwan Fund for Children and Families) in the Taoyuan area of north western Taiwan and a social work student at Soochow University. Here Chia-Chien reflects on the impact of the 2008 financial crisis on the families she serves.

Cold wind and light, drizzling rain are two major enemies of social workers in Taiwan, most of whom use a motorcycle as their means of transportation to visit their clients in the winter. I work for Taoyuan CCF (Taiwan Fund for Children and Families). Unlike Taipei, which is in a basin surrounded by mountains that keep it warm; Taoyuan, at a higher elevation, is always colder and wetter, especially when one leaves the city.

Oh! I have to mention it; the clients that I serve are mainly single- parent families and grandparents-only-families. These families were originally self-sufficient, but after the 2008 financial crisis, they faced unpaid leaves and layoffs, and a lot of them could no longer make ends meet. Furthermore, many of them did not qualify as low-income households and could not be assisted by the governmental system and its resources. As a result, the caseloads of my agency, a non-profit organization, have significantly increased. Such a “growth of customers” would be great if in the business world.

After the morning administrative meeting, I looked at my calendar and started to plan the day’s visit schedule. The dark cloud indicated the possibility of rain for which I needed to prepare. I also started to prepare the rice, oil and other material goods that I planned to give to the disadvantaged families. At this time of year I try to prepare more goods for them, as the Lunar New Year was approaching, so they wouldn’t need to worry about any shortage of food. As most of the visiting sites were in the suburbs, after riding my motorcycle and leaving the city, I saw mostly farmlands, ponds, pools and large tea plantations along the way. Being able to view this beautiful countryside scenery is, in my eyes, one of the fringe benefits of being a social worker. I could enjoy beautiful views in the midst of my tight and busy work schedule.

The time was almost up. I checked the visit list, the maps, and the supplies. All was ready. I needed to get on my way, and I hoped today’s visits would be carried out smoothly!

(Translated by Prof. Shu-jung Li, Department of Social Work, Soochow University, Taipei, Taiwan)

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March 19, 2014. World Social Work Day.

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