“I reluctantly left that position because I felt called to work with children and families in a different capacity. During my short time away from the school system, I feel like I gained life-changing and valuable experience but I desperately missed being in the district and building relationships with the students,” Behmke said. “Being hired as the district social worker for Henry County Public Schools is such a blessing. I am now able to serve children and families in the school district that I love. I feel like I have returned home.”
As the district social worker, Behmke will provide services that strengthen home, school and community partnerships, as well as identify student needs and work to remove barriers that interfere with learning and achievement. She will also work closely with students, their families and school personnel to resolve social, emotional and behavioral challenges.
“We are very grateful to the WHAS Crusade for Children for making this position possible,” Niki Whitaker, director of special education for HCPS, said. “Samantha has hit the ground running and has already proven to be an invaluable asset to our students.”
Since its creation in 1954, the WHAS Crusade for Children has awarded millions of dollars in grants to non-profit agencies, schools and hospitals that help children with physical, mental, emotional and medical needs.
In a rural community in which not all families are fortunate enough to have access to community-based mental health services, having a dedicated social worker in the district will provide an opportunity to work with students at a frequency they may not be able to obtain in the community. Potential barriers such as lack of transportation, limited or no insurance or money to pay for services, and unmanageable appointment times will no longer be factors preventing families from accessing these services. If a child is in crisis, there will not be a delay in providing support.
Not only will Behmke be a local and immediate resource for students in crisis, she can also host proactive therapy groups with students, conduct training for other personnel working with the child and create a bridge between the student, the parent, and the school that may not otherwise exist.
“The most enjoyable aspect of serving as the district social worker is building relationships with the students,” Behmke said. “When a student recognizes that I am their advocate, when they know they can depend on me, or when they are excited to work with me even through the hard stuff, that makes for a great day in the life of a district social worker.”
Behmke most recently worked as a senior child case manager with Centerstone of Kentucky, formerly known as Seven Counties Services. She previously served as a social worker for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Behmke attended Jefferson Community College, University of Phoenix and the University of Cumberlands. She attained a Bachelor of Science degree in human services and completed master’s level courses at the University of Louisville Kent School of Social Work.
“My goal as the HCPS district social worker is to help students and families make the best use of available opportunities and resources and to assist in fully developing each student’s individual potential,” Behmke said. “Social work can be a very challenging career choice, but the idea of helping someone change their life for the better is the reason I chose this field. My favorite quote by Bill Wilson is, ‘To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.’ Social work is not just my passion, it is my calling.”