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The mission of the Division of Senior and Adult Services is to empower seniors and adults with disabilities to age successfully by providing resources and support that preserve their independence.

You are here: Home > Social Worker Month > Anissa Aikens

Anissa Aikens

woman standing and smiling in front of a blue backgroundAnissa Aikens is a Social Services Worker 3 with the Division of Adult and Senior Services’ Adult Protective Services unit. Aikens has been in the social work field for nearly two decades. Her initial desire was to go into teaching, but she decided on a degree in Sociology. In 2000, she landed a position as a Social Services Worker in the County’s Division of Children and Family Services.

While there, she handled many difficult cases, focusing on her primary goal of reunification of the family, or placement with the closest relative. “Adoption is always the last consideration,” she says.

“I loved my time in Children and Family Services,” she continues. “My supervisor and my unit were great. We were very supportive – like family - and always jumped in to help one another as a team.”

Looking for a new opportunity, in 2006 she applied to the County’s new ‘Kinship Care’ program. This took her from Children and Family Services to the Division of Senior and Adult Services, where she began assisting older adults who were caring for their grandchildren.

“I was able to provide resources to help them care for their young relatives,” Aikens says. “I could use my experience in the child protective side to help older adults navigate the process. It was so rewarding to help caregivers and children.”

In 2010, she transferred with her supervisor to the Adult Protective Services unit. She was nervous, because this was the first time she was working directly with older adults. “My training was hands on – in the field, working cases, shadowing other social services workers – all while being supported by my supervisor.”

Aikens notes that working in adult protection is different than child protection. “Children need your voice. Adults have their own voice,” she says. “You become a mentor helping them develop a plan. Allowing them to say, ‘this is how I WANT to live.’”

She notes that courtesy and respect are key. “Sometimes, you have to give them a pep talk,” she says. “Yes, it’s difficult -- yes, it’s scary -- but it’s the BEST thing to do.”

When asked what traits she feels make a social service worker successful, she noted that patience, honesty and compassion are the first things that come to mind. Her advice to new social service workers is to be open minded, a good listener and work to establish a good rapport. “Understand it is a learning process,” she says. “Every day is different. Every case is different. Every client is different.”