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Women Wednesday: Unsung heroes for Kern County families

Jana Slagle
Posted at 6:22 AM, Mar 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-15 09:22:52-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — This month, we're celebrating Women's History by featuring female leaders in Kern County making an impact on our community. It’s also Social Worker’s Appreciation Month, so for this Women's Wednesday, 23ABC spoke with Jana Slagle from the Kern County Human Services Department about what it takes to be an unsung hero for families.

Slagle is the Public Information Officer for Kern DHS, but she got her start as a social worker investigating cases of child abuse.

“I knew that I wanted to help people and when I first started working here my first job was investigating allegations of child abuse," she said. “It was very eye-opening. I didn’t know a lot of what occurred and families that were struggling so I learned a lot about things people struggle with, and how to help them.”

In the department, there are about 400 socials workers placed throughout nine offices. Slagle said they have to be motivated and quick thinking.

“There’s a lot of different things they can do and so even working with families not necessarily in child protection, but employment so people may come to us with the need for financial assistance and we would help them, you know, get a better job by teaching him job skills, and how to prepare for an interview and what to wear and anything we can do to help them become more self-sufficient," she said.

After investigating child abuse cases, Slagle moved on to the court system, helping judges, attorneys, and working in jails. Eventually she moved into her current role as a PIO, but she says her experience and skills still play into her everyday work.

"I had this sort of mentality that that could be me if I had grown up in different situations if I hadn’t had a family that was supportive and just people around me and so each time I would encounter a family that was going through something I really looked at it like you know with that mindset how can I help them," she said.

She said while she still works closely with social workers, she some times misses the feeling of being in the trenches.

"They are first responders in a lot of situations, and they aren’t always known as that, so yeah, I think they deserve a lot more credit but I think naturally people who are drawn to social work they’re not doing it for the credit and so maybe that’s why."