With one more week to go in training I find myself at times thinking, “how am I going to make it out there?” and I continue to get the feeling that I might want more training. I know it’s just in the moment and a comfort thing for me. Right now it feels nice and cozy as we come together daily to hear from experienced people in the field, learn different concepts and skills and develop our own skills through role-plays. Just the thought that very soon we’ll be entering the real world can make a girl nervous.
One thing that reassures me is the support from Barry and Viviane, and my fellow Corps members. Barry reminds us often that we were chosen for a reason, and I think that brings everyone back to the reality that we are strong, determined, passionate, and hard working people and that we aren’t going into this alone—we have a great amount of support from them and from each other. This was probably the biggest thing that attracted me to Children’s Corps. I’ve been feeling that the most significant piece for someone working in child welfare is having a support system, definitely outside the job, but most importantly from people in the field. Having interned at another child welfare agency this past year I soon became well aware that many workers did not feel supported, and that led to a few of them eventually leaving the job. That’s one thing that has always scared me. I don’t want to get to the point of burnout. So from my experience, and as someone going to work in foster care (which I’ve been warned is going to be “crazy”) I understand the need for having someone to talk to, someone who can provide honest helpful feedback, or who will just listen; whether it’s a supervisor, or a co-worker it can make a huge difference in the way someone does their job. This brings me back to Children’s Corps and why I am in love with the whole concept.
Just knowing that if I ever need someone to speak to about something that may feel overwhelming at the time, or if I need guidance, I’ll always have someone from Children’s Corps there to help. As a new case planner it’s definitely reassuring.
When I met D and her family I fell in love with them. This was my first caseload of teenage girls as before I had been working with younger children only. Since the moment I arrived at my first home visit I could sense their excitement about getting a young female worker. D and her sister were living with their father, an older gentleman who was also excited about finally getting a bilingual worker. In a strange turn, this family had welcomed me in and I wanted to honor and reciprocate the feeling. They welcomed me into their home -one of the most unsanitary places I have ever been in my life. I had to put aside my roach phobia and ignore all the creatures crawling and flying all around me if I wanted to make this work. They invited me in and offered me a seat. I sat down, discreetly, petrified and tried to ignore the massive pit-bull sniffing me. I was sure he could smell the adrenaline running through my veins. I imagined myself in the next episode of when animals attack, but I dared not say anything because I could see how the girls adored him and felt this could be a bonding opportunity. So, I prayed and hoped that behind the fear, the dog could smell my sincere wish to help this family (this might have not been wise but I did make it through in one piece!). We all sat down in the living room and the family began to communicate, I had a sense that this was the first time they had an opportunity to laugh, tell stories and tease each other. It was a rare moment of normalcy in an otherwise chaotic life. I let this unfold only facilitating their exchange. In the process I was really able to get a good look into the hearts of this trio. This has made the case so much easier to work with because when all things get dark I remind myself of the people who are behind the chaos and drama, and I pull through. Since getting this case I have been through hell and back; I’ve had to fail the trial discharge, have been through 4 failed placements, a teenage pregnancy, a subsequent miscarriage and drugs, all in span of nine months. At times I just wanted to give them up, transfer the case or just quit! But somehow we made it through. When the girls have a problem they reach out; when they AWOL they let me know where they are; The girls are sincere; they do what they say they’re going to do even if it’s not what’s right and they own up to their mistakes. I respect them and they respect me back and amidst all the chaos we keep working together and I never loose hope. I am confident that even if I don’t achieve the ACS goals, court mandates or the perfect report, the time that I have invested in them and the respect I have given them has planted a seed that hopefully someday will make a difference in figuring out their past life and a better future.