Author Archives: Children's Corps

About Children's Corps

Children’s Corps, the signature program of Fostering Change for Chidlren, is an exciting new approach to working in the child welfare system. Its aim is to improve life opportunities for all children and families who come to the attention of public child welfare systems throughout the United States. Child welfare work is rewarding, but can also be complex and demanding; it takes a strong and motivated individual to succeed in the field. To find and retain such individuals, Children’s Corps operates on the three tenets of selection, training, and support. Through this combination we believe we can effect change throughout the child welfare system, leading to reduced turnover, more effective service referrals, and more positive and permanent outcomes for children and families. Through targeted marketing, highly selective recruitment, rigorous pre-service training, and ongoing professional development and support, our program is building a workforce of highly skilled and motivated candidates willing to commit to child welfare casework for two years. Once accepted into the Corps, members participate in a five-week intensive summer training, covering a wide range of topics we believe to be crucial to effective child welfare work. Corps members are placed with child welfare agencies throughout New York City. Throughout their two year commitment, Corps members have access to professional mentors and regular trainings to help them remain effective and prepared for the work. Children’s Corps is always looking for fun, energetic, passionate people to join us; the next application process will open in mid December 2013.

New Year of Growth

More often than not, the new year presents us with renewed energy and awakened feelings of hope for the future.  It is important that on the hardest, coldest, and most unrelenting days of our lives, we harness the energy we have at the start of the year because every day is an opportunity to make a difference, to change, to get it right.  Here is a message from a Children’s Corps member about some of the lessons she is taking with her to work in the child welfare field.

Hi Jess,

I’m doing well 🙂 I’m sorry I couldn’t make the holiday party. I came down with a cold and I am currently without a voice. It’s been a long few days. Things are going okay. I’m trying to live by this motto “Own the mistakes, count the victories, and trust the process.” So far I’ve made a lot of mistakes and it’s been stressful. The victories are great though! I enjoy connecting with my kids (which is my strength lol) they’re awesome and make me feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m growing up in areas that I wasn’t previously mature. Learning office politics, agency culture, and that I am not likable to everyone- all a part of the process. Needless to say, I am having daily temper tantrums within myself as I go down this path. Thanks for checking in with me.
Love and Peace
New Year, New Growth (1)
To learn more about how you can participate in the Children’s Corps program, visit http://www.fosteringchangeforchildren.org/CC

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Daughter

On this final Wednesday of National Adoption Awareness Month, we celebrate the opportunities we’ve had to partner for permanency this month and throughout the year so that more children are connected to safe, loving, and permanent homes.  There are over 100,000 young people  who wait an average of 2 years for the opportunity to be with their adoptive families.    As many of you prepare for your Thanksgiving feast with your loved ones, we want to leave you with this touching story from the Adoption Stories Network about the moment we hope every child can experience – where they are acknowledged as son or Daughter. Read more here

fatherdaughter

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Your Plans vs. Reality

The presence of a consistent and committed social worker in the life of a child in the foster care system has a significant impact on the outcome of that child and family.  Our Children’s Corps program fundamentally is guided by that fact.  Achieving that positive outcome varies from case to case and it certainly doesn’t always happen the way one would anticipate.  The message below is an example of a successful start to a positive outcome for a young child who was on the case of one of our members.    

 Hi Jessica!

I wanted to give you an update on how things have been going. It’s been a crazy two weeks!!!! I got my little guy in a home in which I thought from the beginning would be good for him. It is a home he was in respite while they moved him right when I got the case. It is culturally appropriate and in a home with much fewer children. There were a few hurdles (a couple of school visits for me and a very close call to having him taken to the hospital) but I really think for now I have him settled in a school that is willing and able to work with him and in a home that he feels safe and is aware of his needs. I have also got him set up for evaluations so if we need to move him into a therapeutic home in the future we can do it quickly. I’m working with the therapist to get a referral out to a community therapist. I am also meeting with *Kara on Saturday and was planning to talk with her further about it. I also got mom a little more on board with making sure he understands things like it’s not okay to try to run away from school…. It was tough but I really think these two weeks have made a big difference!

And of course now that I put all this work in, finally got him comfortable with me (enough that I was able to calm him down successfully during a break down at school) and got mom on board they are transferring him to another case planner. It is good and bad of course. The case planner has been working with the family since the beginning and I only had this boy and his brothers for these two months that their caseworker was on maternity leave. This way one person will be working with the whole family and all of the kids and will really know what is going on. But of course I am a little sad! It’s kind of crazy how the most challenging case can be the one you are saddest about when it moves on from you. (click to tweet) It really provides a little insight on how difficult it can be when your cases come to a close and how you always need to be preparing for it. I mean I was only working with them for two months!!

I just wanted to update you. It was a bit stressful, but again all that time and energy it seems, for now, has paid off. Thanks for just listening when I needed to vent. Sometimes it’s just nice to know someone has your back when you aren’t 100% positive with what you are doing 🙂

Hopefully see you in a few weeks at the next meeting

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the person referenced.

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Meet the New Class

Their youthful presence and zealous energy will have you thinking our corps members are all 20 something’s with the pomp and circumstance march still playing in their heads. While this is true for a number of them, we select from a diverse pool of people from all backgrounds who have the right amount of courage and maturity in them to commit to this type of work.

You’ve already heard from one of them already, Kristin Gowin.  Check out her blog post, “The Pseudo First Day and Snow Patrol.”  Ms. Gowin, originally from Knoxville Tennessee, made New York her home when deciding to pursue a graduate level degree in psychological counseling with a specialization in mental health before her bout with Children’s Corps.  She cites her experience working in as domestic violence counselor as her inspiration for joining the corps.

Kristina photo

“It was during her Master’s level internship experience working as a Domestic Violence Counselor/Advocate at The Children’s Aid Society’s Family Wellness Program that Kristina realized the passion she has for working in community agencies in the child welfare system. After completing her Ed.M. program Kristina joined Children’s Corps and is now employed at The Children’s Aid Society as a Sociotherapist in the Treatment Family Foster Care Program where she provides in-home supportive counseling to high-need youth and foster families. Kristina’s ultimate career goal is to work with youth and families as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor using trauma-focused therapy in both community agencies and private practice settings. “

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Pictured here (-r): Kristin Jones and Miriam Kwietniewska. I think these two would agree that the PEELED Snacks that keep them looking young and jubilant! =)

Some of them have families of their own and some have undergone major career, lifestyle and location changes to do meaningful work.

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Kaya Ceci, originally from Hawaii, has spent a significant amount of time volunteering in Latin America before joining the corps here in NYC.

“I recently graduated with my BA in Psychology and Latin American Studies, which ultimately led to my disillusionment with the field of Psychology for many reasons- principally, its tendency to pathologize individuals rather than the societal factors all too often leading to their circumstances. Originally from Hawaii, I had quite the nomadic childhood- bouncing between 9 different states over the years. This familial instability and the arduous lifestyle that fueled it have ignited my empathetic desire to empower children and their families to be proponents of their own social change. My volunteer experiences with the marginalized youth of Latin America have also sparked my sense of personal responsibility to use my education/life experience to benefit the lives of others who are systematically denied those very rights. I am excited to have found a career that accommodates my critical views and desire for change!” 

We are fortunate to have people from far and wide answering our call to action and we are equally excited to have individuals who’ve been locally born and bred like Steven Franco representing both for the men in child welfare and the native New Yorkers.  Steven, like many of his peers,  sees Children’s Corps as a way to do his part in leaving the world a better place.

Steven Photo

Steven Franco

As you can see, there are several differences that make this group unique.  Eager to learn the ropes from veterans who’ve already made careers in the field, collaborate with others who share their passion for justice, sprinkled with a little tenacity, a lot of personality and doused with even more optimism, these individuals all share the belief that their time is marked with the opportunity to make progress.  It is a belief that has been held by classes preceding them and that will be apparent to those who encounter them.  Don’t believe us?  MEET THE NEW CLASS 

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The revolution will be televised.

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by | September 12, 2013 · 4:05 pm

International Day of Charity

“To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

On the United Nation’s First Annual International Day of Charity, we wanted to share the opportunity to give with you and thank all of our supporters, program participants, and donors for the time, resources, and positive energy already given to help us further our mission of influencing positive outcomes for children and families in the child welfare system.  We encourage you to continue to answer the call to action of organizations like ours in helping to make the world a better place for the future.

Seeking an opportunity to give?  We’ve got a few ideas:

1. Tell a friend about our organization.  Share a link to this blog post or our website on your social media profiles including the hashtag #charityday.

2. We’re looking for volunteers on September 17th.  Please contact sonya@fosteringchangeforchildren.org for details.

3. Donate Here. 

For more suggestions visit, 5 Ways to Get Involved in the International Day of Charity via The United Nations Blog

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by | September 5, 2013 · 4:23 pm

Transitions

contributed by Heather-Ann Schaeffner

“…like twelve of us are going to Ikea after training today.”

“Let me see your map of the living room.”

“I have to stop at home first, I forgot my coupon.”

“You should try to get a sponsorship from Ikea, we’re going to spend thousands of dollars there today.”

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Last week concluded the third #ChildrensCorps Summer Training Academy at Columbia University’s School of Social Work.  After five weeks of note taking, lectures from some of the most influential educators and professionals in the child welfare system, role-plays, networking and knowledge-sharing the thirty-eight new members (our largest class yet!) are ready and eager to start work in the field.  Some have already begun their two year commitment as early as this past Monday.

Similar to the families they will serve, the transition will not be easy.  A number of them are acclimating to the New York City lifestyle, claiming their independence, some are starting along a brand new career path and totally changing the pace of their lives. Over the next two years many of them will be faced with some of the toughest challenges of their lives.  They will cry, think about giving up, one or two may even decide that this work is not for them- this is a reality.  What is also a reality and probably the most important reality,  is knowing that every one of them in this process has grown already, and will continue to grow.   The seed of their positive thinking will be planted at the agency they work at, and in the families they serve.

I heard a mixture of excitement and trepidation at lunch, but the air was light and happy. The room was bursting with their enthusiasm for humanity and their desire to affect positive change in the lives of children and families who benefit greatly from folks with this sort of uplifting demeanor to be a resource for them on their journey through the difficulties of life. Many of these corps members uprooted their entire lives just over a month ago to move to New York City to fulfill some inner need, desire, or calling for social justice and child welfare.

So here they are, after five weeks of unpaid training, about to furnish their new apartments, seemingly entirely at Ikea.

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Image by Heather-Ann Schaeffner

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Social Work? But Why

Fostering Change for Children sat down with a few Children’s Corps members and asked…”Social Work? But why?” Here’s what they had to say.

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by | May 13, 2013 · 4:32 pm