Social workers play a major role in society and can be found in every community, supporting individuals, families, schools, administrators, veterans, and more — touching the lives of every client they meet.
So it comes as no surprise that there are many movies about social workers — or at the very least, movies that have a social worker character in it.
Here is a list of some of the most popular social work movies!
1. “Lilo and Stitch”
In this popular Disney movie, Cobra Bubbles, a former CIA agent, is the social worker assigned to a case involving two sisters, Nani and Lilo. Initially, it appears that Bubbles is going to take Lilo away from Nani after witnessing several unfavorable circumstances and finding out about Nani losing her job. When it is revealed that a pesky alien, Stitch, is often the cause of the trouble, Bubbles is tasked to watch over the family.
Mariah Carey plays Precious’ social worker, Ms. Weiss, who is assigned to her case. Precious’ family life is troubling — her mother is abusive, and her father has gotten Precious pregnant twice, but doesn’t live with them. After enduring abuse the entire movie, Ms. Weiss refuses to help Precious’ mother get custody of her daughter because of the abuse, giving Precious the chance to start a new life.
3. “Case 39”
Social worker Emily Jenkins (Renee Zellweger) is assigned to help protect a young girl from her seemingly abusive parents. It is later discovered that the young girl is possessed by a demon and not as innocent as she initially seems.
4. “Girl, Interrupted”
A young woman checks herself into a mental hospital after overdosing on aspirin and experiences a tumultuous life in a mental ward. She meets with a therapist (and social worker), who challenges her way of thinking and ultimately forces her to question why she is there in the first place.
5. “Free Willy”
A troubled 12-year-old boy who was abandoned by his mother is arrested for vandalizing a theme park. His social worker, desperate to keep him out of the juvenile detention system, finds a way for him to pay his dues by living with foster parents and cleaning up the park, where he discovers a killer whale he grows extremely fond of.
6. “The Grudge”
Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is an exchange student studying social work in Japan who volunteers to cover for a fellow co-worker after she doesn’t show up for work. The house she is assigned to turns out to be haunted by the spirits of deceased family members.
7. “I Am Sam”
Sam (Sean Penn) is the father of a young girl tasked with taking care of her on his own after her mother abandons her. He is developmentally disabled, but manages to take care of her until she is taken away by a social worker pending a custody hearing. After she lives with a foster family and runs away, her love for her father becomes apparent.
8. “Oranges and Sunshine”
This movie is based on the true story of social worker Margaret Humphreys, who discovers that there is a scheme in Nottingham, England, in which poor children are taken from their homes and safe houses and forcibly relocated to Australia and Canada to perform hard labor. She brings worldwide attention to the “home children” depravity and reunites families.
A group of boys gets involved with gang members and is sent to a juvenile detention center after nearly killing a man while pulling a prank on a hot dog vendor. At the school for boys, they are repeatedly abused and raped by the guards and turn to a social worker for help.
10. “It Takes Two”
The story follows a young orphan, Alyssa, who wants to be adopted by her social worker, Diane, but the state won’t allow it based on Diane’s salary. Alyssa swaps places with her doppelganger Amanda – a wealthy young girl whose father is set to re-marry a nasty socialite. The two conspire to get Diane and Amanda’s father married.
A perpetually positive grade school teacher named Poppy discovers one of the bullies in her classroom is dealing with issues at home. She brings in a social worker named Tim to help the student.