Julia Jensen has a heart for the children and families she works with.
As a social worker with the Washington County Department of Social Services, Jensen handles foster-care cases.
She works with children while they are in foster care, when they transition back home to their parents, or through the adoption process if they are able to be adopted.
“I really enjoy foster care. I see it as the more hopeful side of child abuse. There’s hope for change in the family,” she said.
Jensen, 26, has been working in social work for more than five years. She became a licensed social worker about a year ago and has worked for county social services since Oct. 2011.
“I’ve had some family who had some difficulties. I think seeing that got me interested in a helping field,” she said.
Jensen has distinguished herself in her work, earning a nomination that led to her selection by the Maryland Department of Human Resources as Social Worker of the Year for Washington County.
“I would want to thank the people who nominated me. I work with a great team. We’re in blended teams.
I feel supported by my colleagues,” Jensen said.
She was presented the award at a staff meeting in April.
“It is a very prestigious award,” said L. Bruce Massey, assistant director for administration for county social services.
As a foster-care social worker, Jensen said her work day has a lot of variety, which she likes. Her time is split between office time doing documentation of cases, making home visits to foster homes, meeting with birth parents and testifying in court.
Home visits often take place in the evenings or on weekends.
Case documentation is streamlined by using a voice-activated software program that Jensen now trains other staff members to use.
“I like that you can get to do a lot of neat things. I’m not one to sit in the office all day,” Jensen said.
Jensen recently helped her supervisor and several other staff members with the updating of a handbook for birth parents whose children are placed in foster-care homes.
“A large amount of families are reunited. When families are really motivated and using the supports available, we do see success in returning home,” Jensen said.
Jensen grew up in Ellicott City, Md. She has lived in Hagerstown for about five years and has been married to her husband, Bryan, for five years.
She earned her undergraduate degree in three years from Northern Arizona University, seeking a change of scenery after living in Maryland all her life.
It was that master’s degree that allowed her to become a licensed social worker.
“The opportunities are neat, that I wouldn’t have anywhere else,” Jensen said.