Social workers in the Greater Fall River area held the first in a series of statewide pickets, spreading awareness of what they say is an underfunded field.

Members of SEIU Local 509 gathered in Fall River Tuesday, calling on the State Senate to increase the number of social workers by adding $29 million to the Department of Children and Families budget.

Julie Cardoza, a social worker of 20 years, says she and fellow social workers can't keep up with the cases they're given. "You have to be very flexible. What it feels like now when you're doing social work is it's reactive social work, and that is not is good social work. You want to do proactive social work," she said.

Cardoza says the ideal case load is a maximum of 15 per social worker. She says on average throughout the Southcoast, social workers are handling at least 20 cases at a time.