So you thought I forgot where I came from hahaha not in the least I’ve been busy, but I have found time to write this before I get busy again. First, I would like to say that it was an amazing surprise to bump into Emily at Forestdale Inc. this week. Honestly it was good to see another Children’s Corp member doing their thing. I did feel bad because I wanted to sit down and discuss our experiences so far, but I was so busy I only had time to help Emily find my boss as I was starting an FTC meeting.
Anyway, my first three weeks are over as I wait for my fourth to begin. Some observations: First, I don’t know how people do this job in queens without a car. Having my car to do the visits makes the job a lot easier and helps me be way more flexible on when I can see everyone. Second, it’s good to write things down and to constantly update your to do list, because it’s almost impossible to remember everything you have to do without writing it down. Third, one of the first things I did when I got my caseload was look up whose birthdays were around the corner. I remember Barry mentioning how important it was to at least call your children if they are old enough and say Happy Birthday. So I did that this week and I think she was happy I remembered. Fourth, if you don’t know how to change a poopy diaper you should learn. Barry and Viviane told us to be flexible, but this was not what I had in mind.
As far as Children’s Corps goes I hope you all are having wonderful experiences and if you need to talk give me a call I will listen as long as it is not in the middle of an FTC meeting, Quarterly Review, Staff Meeting, Training, Court, or Visit. Hahaha just kidding hit me up if you want. See you all next MONTH!!
The last couple of weeks have been so packed with action that it’s only now that I have the time to sit down and processed all that’s happening. First of all we had our last week of training at children’s corps; Legal Week! The week was amazing but what stuck with us the most was meeting a really cool Family Court Judge who, the very next day after meeting us, happened to be appointed as the new Commissioner of ACS. It was amazing to have had the chance to meet him and listen to his story in such important time in his career, he was very inspiring, real, and tough but above all, human and concerned about the families, so I look forward to following his work at ACS and supporting his efforts to improve and strengthen the child welfare system in New York City.
The week then ended; with our goodbyes, words of encouragement and a lot of good lucks and although we knew we parted knowing that we are all intertwined for life, it was hard to acknowledge that our training time was over and that we were now on our way to face this new world. We left inspired, scared and anxious but still passionate and above all encouraged as we knew we left with a big box of amazing tools to help at-risk families and children get through life.
Now back from home and with the few things that will fit in my tiny but expensive New York apartment. I’m ready to begin!
Today marks my official one week anniversary as a Crisis Intervention Worker on Staten Island, and 6 weeks of non-stop job training. Last week was exciting as it was my first time going to the Island. In order to get to work by 10am, I have to catch the 8:02am M train, make two transfers, hop on the Staten Island Ferry, and then rush to get on a bus. Needless to say, it is a long commute but well worth it. For one, I feel like an adult! Dressing all fancy-like, rushing along the current of suits from train to train, waking up before noon, perfecting my New Yorker “I’m important” face; a real life adult! Second of all, I have been lucky enough to land in a Rapid Intervention Team of six brilliant, funny, passionate individuals. As a new program, we are all really antsy and ready for some referrals to start pouring in. As ready as we are to get going, the trainings are certainly important in team building and becoming as educated on our purpose as possible.
This week we’re doing training’s in the West Village on Solution Based methods. To completely self-disclose… I am a little upset we’re not going to Staten Island because I’ve been able to read two books in one week and have started my third over the course of that commute! But alas. Also- hello to fellow Corps graduates! I’ve been lucky enough to catch up with a couple of my pals from CC but am hoping to see everyone as soon as possible. It’s so nice to have 24 other people feeling this same push of motivation and excitement in starting brand new careers in Child Welfare at the same time. A big ol’ thank you to Barry and Viv for making that happen! Oh I hadn’t realized it was 9pm… a perfectly appropriate and not grandma-ish bedtime for a 22 year old living in New York City. To wrap up; Children’s Corps was great, my new team is great, and things are really coming together.
Children’s Corps training ended last Friday with a group picture, some lunch, and a graduation ceremony, then this past Monday I began my new life as a foster care caseworker. Each day has been different, which is something I appreciate since I’d rather not sit at a desk all day. On Monday, I shadowed a conference in court, and on Tuesday I spent most of the day waiting for a case to be called, only to find that it was adjourned. (Learning point: flexibility!) I have also monitored a visit for a co-worker, met with one of my first families, wrote my first official progress note, and attended a morning training for the agency.
On my first day, I was instructed to familiarize myself with the three families I will be initially working with by reading through their case files. I was thankful for Children’s Corps training because I was able to recognize a few of the forms and where they might be relevant within the process. That being said, reading through the cases also made me realize how little I truly know about the specifics of case planning. Luckily my co-workers and supervisor seem very supportive, so I know I have people to go to with questions (of which I will have many). There seems to be a form for nearly everything, so I am curious as to how I will know when to use these forms and where I will find them, but I suppose that will come with time as I learn more about my cases.
One of the themes that was emphasized in Children’s Corps training was to not make assumptions about the families we’re working with, and I had an experience today that taught me how important this really is. When reading through a child’s extensive file on Monday, I quickly became overwhelmed by how complicated the case seemed. The child’s history includes many challenges and mental health diagnoses. I thought, How am I going to be able to handle a case like this? while imagining the worst. I still had these thoughts on my mind when I got home from work on Monday.
Today I was just sitting at my desk when a supervisor called me over and introduced me to the child and his parent who had stopped by the agency. She suggested that I sit down with the child and the mother. I quickly realized how ridiculous I was for being overwhelmed and stressed out by the case. They were interested to meet me, open about discussing their experiences, and clearly had a positive relationship with one another, which is something to celebrate given some of the difficulties that they have faced as a family. The child was a bit disruptive during our time together, but I was intentionally patient, and the meeting went very well.
That half an hour was honestly the best part of my day. It is easy to judge a family or individual by what is written about them on paper, but I learned how important it is to go into these relationships with an open mind. I am looking forward to meeting the rest of the families on my caseload!
Now that training has ended, I look back and wonder where the last 5 weeks went. It’s unbelievable how in only a short amount of time, things can change so drastically. I walked into the room with 24 other people who were complete strangers and walked out a month later knowing that the same people will be in my life for the long haul. When applying for this job, I read about the three main goals of this new program. A rigorous recruitment process, a training program that prepares us for the some of the challenges that will arise in the field, and support for two years. The first two were self-explanatory for me, but the word “support” is so vague. I walked in thinking that I had a strong support system already. I have my friends and family who I can vent to or share my rewarding stories with so why would I need another group of people who don’t know me very well? Looking back, I went in with the completely wrong mindset, and I’m thrilled that my experience shifted that.
One of the greatest things about this program is that with the recruitment process and the training, the support came naturally. With such strong personalities, it’s almost impossible not to. One of my favorite quotes from this training was spoken by a foster parent who came to discuss his experiences with us. He stated, “Tough times change. Tough people don’t.” We are 25 tough people who I firmly believe will help each other through the tough times. I now truly understand the third component in Children’s Corps way. We have built our own support system that will guide us through the next two years and into whichever career paths we will take.