Alumni Update: Shavon Swain (MNLEND Fellow, 2014-15)

Shavon Swain

Shavon Swain (MNLEND Fellow, 2014-15), recently became a social work unit supervisor for Hennepin County Adult Protective Services after spending four years as a child protection investigator for the County.

The increased likelihood that children with disabilities will be abused and disparities in the number of children and adults with disabilities in the protective services system fuels Swain’s passion for ensuring all people in the system are treated with respect. As a MNLEND fellow, she was part of a team that created resource materials explaining various types of disabilities and offering suggestions for how to support people with disabilities in the child welfare system.

“People want to be seen, to be heard, and be treated with respect and dignity,” Swain said. “It’s sounds simple enough, but it can be tricky at times because child welfare is a complex system, where many professionals have a say as to whether parents are fit to parent.”

Listening to clients’ stories about navigating the social services system has led Swain to be more intentional not only with clients directly, but also in speaking about them in court or in staff meetings. 

“Words carry weight, and this is especially true for parents with disabilities, who are over-represented and who often face more significant consequences” she said. “They are finding their place in a world not designed for them.”