CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- If it wasn't for the love Vicki Britton has for the children she serves every day, the school social worker would have left a long time ago.
"I have a heart for people in general, but children that's my area," said Britton. "I just don't think we're being paid for what we're worth."
The single mother of three works 40 hours a week treating students in Hoke County, but because her finances are tight she's considering a part time job.
"Something on the weekend," she said. "Something after school hours which will pull me away from home, but you've got to do what you've got to do, right?"
The North Carolina School Social Workers Association hosted hundreds of school social workers Friday. There were dozens of stories like Britton's in the room of more than 300 social workers. They say while their work is essential, they're undervalued. They stood up sharing their stories in an effort to appeal to four lawmakers on stage.
"A big piece of our legislative agenda this year and for years in the past is to restore master's level pay for school social workers," said Valerie Arendt, North Carolina National Association of Social Workers.
According to Arendt, if school social workers have Master's degrees, they aren't being paid for their experience and knowledge. It's a $10,000 pay difference.
"It is very frustrating for school social workers. Just like teachers, they are continuing to leave the profession, which is detrimental to the school systems," she said.
As for Britton, there is a sticky note sitting on her desk at work. It's a countdown to when she's set to graduate with a Master's degree in social work even though she knows she won't be paid extra for her newfound skills.
"It's really discouraging to be honest especially when we do as much as we do with students," said Britton.