Deric Boston, MSW, LCSW, is a part-time member of the faculty in the MSW program at NC State. He teaches social work practice classes. We were able to interview him about his experience in the social work profession.
Outside of teaching at NC State, what other things are you involved with professionally?
I do early child mental health along with family or individual mental health. I am also a mental health consultant for Head Start and Early Head Start. There are two different grants for each program. Head Start is for children age three to kindergarten, Early Head Start is for children 0-3.
How did you first got involved?
I first got involved with young child mental health through a friend who wanted me to help with a three-year-old on the weekends. From there I started to help out an organization called Learning Together and once they got enough grant money they brought me on full time. So I have gotten to spend two years doing early child mental health. Learning Together is a developmental preschool that originally shared a building with the Head Start program. Federal mandate requires that all children in Head Start receive mental health evaluations, and since we shared a building it made sense to pursue my work with Head Start. Once I moved back to Durham, I approached the Head Start there, but it was Early Head Start that took me up on the offer. This allowed me to work with young children and take state trainings to improve my knowledge.
What has surprised you most about working there?
Head Start is a place that truly prepares kids for kindergarten. It surprised me in a sense because sometimes programs with many regulations can do poorly. But this program really does get kids ready.
What do you find most challenging about it?
Getting parents to understand how important their role is in getting their child ready for kindergarten.
What do you wish other people knew about Head Start?
I wish people knew that it is not a daycare and that it is really a good program. Head Start sometimes can be located in not the best areas and people can sometimes look at it as that’s where the poor kids go, but it is a really good program. They are also involved with trying to get participation from fathers through programs and activities. Research has shown that children having fathers in their life can increase brain development. Head Start has a lot of programs to help fathers from custody and visitation to the court system.
Who has influenced your career path?
Hulet Powell. When I was doing therapeutic foster care, my job was to license and place children. During that period, I was able to see some good clinicians and some not so good. He was one of the best. I have also been inspired by many children along the way. I have seen some very resilient children.
What might someone be surprised to know about you?
What do you think will change about this career field over the next five years?
I think our value is being bumped up because other disciplines do not really have a code of ethics like we do. I think that our professional image will hold strong. I think we have a good ability to police ourselves.
What is it like to be a social worker and why do you continue in this work?
I think sometimes it is overwhelming. It can get out of hand if there aren’t any boundaries. I think understanding that I am needed and that I can make a difference is what keeps me in this work.
What advice would you give people about becoming a social worker?
I would tell people to go into it for the right reason. I would tell them not to go into social work with the thought that they can save the world.
If you were not a social worker, what would you be doing instead?
I might be a teacher. I have a BA in education. I taught Social Work as a TA.
What do you do when you are not working?
I watch a lot of sports, but mostly I spend time with my family. It is super important for me not to neglect my family for work.
If something happened to you today, what would you want people to remember you by?
I would want people to feel like I care and my involvement with them was not superficial.