The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office moved forward last week with plans to bring full-time social workers onto its staff, opening up applications for the positions.
Envisioned as a collaboration between the sheriff’s office and communities across McHenry County, the newly created division will work with police officers to connect residents to resources in areas, such as mental health and domestic violence, and sometimes assist on calls requiring a mental health response.
“Police Social Workers will not replace an officer’s response in the community, but instead will serve as a proactive tool for law enforcement officers to connect citizens with the necessary programs and help they need,” the sheriff’s office said in a Friday news release.
Cities and villages across McHenry County can opt into the program, paying a fee to participate that is based on their population size, and so far between six and eight communities have signed on, said McHenry County deputy sheriff Sgt. Aimee Knop, who is heading the division.
The first to join was Harvard, and others are in the process of getting approval from their local city councils or village boards, she said. The program, which is seeking grant funding, also receives financial support from the McHenry County Mental Health Board and the McHenry County Board. The Community Foundation of McHenry County is providing a space for the division to operate.
The goal is to hire six full-time social workers by the end of the year, Knop said.
The police social worker is a non-sworn professional who works directly with law enforcement and county first responders by providing social service support for cases identified through officer contact in the community, according to the release. Among their responsibilities are adult and juvenile crisis intervention, case assessments, short-term counseling, court advocacy and referral to other social service agencies.
The starting salary range for the position is $47,000 to $56,000 a year, and benefits include medical, dental, vision, accident and life insurance as well as a pension through the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund. Tuition assistance and reimbursement also is available.
The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office is looking for candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in social work, counseling, psychology or related field. A master’s degree is preferred and licensing is required within one year of employment.
Candidates should have at least two years of related experience and experience within a law enforcement agency is preferred. For information on the position, go to bit.ly/MCSOSocialWorker.
Northwest Herald correspondent Amanda Marrazzo contributed to this report.
Update: This article was updated to correct the photo’s caption. The man in the photo is Deputy Tim Creighton.