Monthly Archives: January 2020

Insight into a Children’s Corps Monthly Meeting

A group of people sit in a circle, with everyone facing one group member who is sharing their story.
Description: Children’s Corps members gather for a recent monthly meeting.

Have you read about the About Children’s Corps page on our website and wondered what member support looks like? If so, then this post is for you. Keep reading for a reflection on a Children’s Corps Monthly Meeting and the support component of our program.

As a new social work intern at Fostering Change for Children, I was eager to attend the first Monthly Meeting of the year for the 2018 and 2019 Children’s Corps members. As someone who supports the program “behind the scenes”, it was a great opportunity for me to see first-hand the members’ experiences as new child welfare professionals. Members arrived at around 6pm, got a slice of pizza, and started catching up with each other. It was great to see how connected the members are. They seemed to know each other well and were so engaged in conversation that it was difficult for me to interrupt, even just to introduce myself. I sat and listened for the most part.  I heard lots of talk about what’s going on in their agencies and how things differ for each of them. Members shared stories about things going on in their personal life and at work, and Children’s Corps Support Specialists provided coaching and mentoring. I loved everyone’s passion behind their conversation.  

During this social time, which was about 20 minutes, members had a chance to record some of the challenges and surprises that they had experienced during their first month of being a caseworker in child welfare.  What they wrote down on the posters around the room was used to guide the group discussion. Take a look at what they had to say:

Challenges (paraphrased)

  • Getting comfortable with using CONNECTIONS, the child welfare computer system for documenting delivery of child welfare services to families and children
  • Having grace with themselves and learning to be okay with not finishing your to-do list each day, and still being proud of the work you did complete, can be really hard and take a long time to do
  • Finding the solutions to challenging situations
  • Helping young people find their motivation to go to school and learn
  • Engaging with parents and foster parents that struggle with being involved
  • Experiencing conflict between parents and my supervisor
  • Having difficulties working collaboratively with my supervisor

Surprises (paraphrased)

  • The quality of email communication within my agency was great.
  • Experiencing what it feels like to have only 5 cases out of the 8-10 that I will eventually have, figuring out how to manage their time accordingly
  • How much power I have to make a difference in my agency and the lives of the children and families that I work with
  • Not having what I think I need in order to perform my job as a caseworker
  • Working with infants and young children can be difficult because the way they express their feelings can be hard to understand

Jac, our FCFC Program Coordinator of Training and Coaching, led an amazing discussion exploring what members wrote.  As she went through the list, each member explained the reason behind what they wrote. Listening to what they had to say helped me to understand how invested Children’s Corps members are in their work with children and families.  There was not a person in the group that didn’t express the desire to make a difference in the lives of the families they work with. It was nice to see their eagerness to learn and grow from the meeting, so that they can use the knowledge they gain to improve their work.  

Jac facilitated the conversation so members could learn from each other.  She put an emphasis on common challenges; this seemed to help members recognize that they are not alone and have the support of their cohort to face these together.  Those that may not be encountering some of these challenges were already prepared for them after discussing them at the meeting. It was clear that Jac was trying to lead the group to think critically about about some techniques they can use to navigate these issues.  Members were also able to point out the small successes they encountered. They shared stories of the relationships they had built with families and experiences of effective communication with their supervisors. I loved hearing how much members care about their work and feel as though they have the power to make a difference in their client’s lives.

I saw the importance of Monthly Meetings as a way to highlight prevalent topics among members so the FCFC staff can prepare discussion and training topics for the next monthly meeting. After the meeting ended, I left feeling like I could better understand the community that is Children’s Corps.  It is so much more than teaching members how to be better caseworkers. It’s about allowing members to open up, learn from each other, and know that they are never alone. The Children’s Corps support prong creates a cohort of individuals who are passionate about their work in child welfare and provides them with the ability to gain the knowledge they need to set them up for success. Children’s Corps is a family I want to be a part of.

Raquel Barry is a social work intern at Fostering Change for Children, working closely with the Children’s Corps program. She is currently pursuing her Master’s in Social Work at New York University.

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Want to be a Children’s Corps Member? Check out these application tips!

Our team is hard at work recruiting and selecting our tenth cohort of Children’s Corps members. Check out these tips on how to put your best foot forward through the Children’s Corps application process.

For the past year, I’ve had the privilege of working with Fostering Change for Children and learning about the Children’s Corps program. Last year, when I was an Master’s in Social Work intern, I read applications and participated in interviews for the Class of 2019. Since I reviewed many applications, I felt like I got to know candidates before I even met them at interviews. It always felt exciting to finally talk with them, and to meet alumni interviewers. The days were long, but totally worth it. 

As we enter Children’s Corps recruitment and selection season, which is my favorite time at Fostering Change For Children, I wanted to share some tips on having a standout application.

DO: Research our program

We don’t expect candidates to have an in-depth knowledge of child welfare when applying to this program. However, we do encourage you to learn as much as you can about our program and what the work entails by reading through our website, social media, and the Children’s Corps blog. This will not only set you up for success in the interview portion of the process but also for your work in the field.

DON’T: Be intimidated

We understand that the application can be lengthy and time-consuming. Trust that this process ensures the best fit for everyone.  The essays really give us a chance to get to know you and your thought process. They also give you space to process different aspects of the work. Ultimately, if you are unsure of the strength of your responses, reach out to a friend or family member to review them.  

DO: Use transferable skills

Are you a math whiz? Have you worked in customer service for many years? Do you have experience mentoring youth or tutoring? Have you served as the head of a club or committee? Have you taken on a leadership role in your family? If so, we want to know more about how these types of skills and experiences will translate into you becoming an effective child welfare worker.

DON’T: Forget to spell check

Strong communication skills are essential to child welfare work. We want to see the attentiveness and care that you would put into your work reflected in your application. Review your short answers and personal essay for spelling and grammatical errors and thoroughly proofread your full application before you submit it. 

DO: Be yourself

The best way to set yourself apart from other applications is to be yourself: let us get to know you and your experiences that have shaped who you are, your values, and your passions. We don’t want to hear what you think we want to hear…we want to know you! We want to know how you think, how you would approach different situations, what you are drawn to, and what inspires you. Basically, we want to know the many facets of who you are.

So yes, it is important to proofread and spell check so that your thoughts and ideas come out clearly and we get to know you better. 

And definitely do research so that you understand more about what the work entails and whether you can envision yourself in this field. 

Try not to be discouraged by the length of the application because by providing this exhaustive information, we are better able to understand how you think.

Remember to fine tune that resume so we can see the range of your experiences and skills.

But most importantly, be yourself because we want to really get to know you through this application so we can find the best fit for all.

Jennie Morrison is a current Communications Specialist with our team and a former Masters in Social Work intern. Before attending social work school and joining the Fostering Change for Children team, Jennie worked with children and families in schools. Material for this post was also contributed by Akanksha Singh and Ana Aparicio Calderon.

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