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!