On the job

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!

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1 Comment

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One response to “On the job

  1. Viviane

    I can’t express enough how delighted, and proud I am of you and all of us at Children’s Corps. What it demonstrates to me is that you understand the essence of this work and CC training is working. We deliberately chose not to take up training time teaching you how to fill out forms. Forms are often changing and your colleagues can always help you with that.

    I am so impressed by your poise, openness and awareness of the situation you described. Thank you for sharing that story and for being so candid. I’m sure this will be very helpful for your peers who have not started the work yet.

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