My Education: BA in Family Science, Anderson University
My Prior Experience: Example 1: I worked as a gymnastics instructor for the YMCA
Example 2: I worked as a Unit Clerk in a hospital on the Pediatric Unit
Example 3: I worked for the government's Child Welfare System
My Company: I work for a non-profit private foster care agency. We license foster homes and children are placed in our foster care program.
Job/Career Overview: I am a case manager, in charge of managing between 12 to 18 case on my caseload. I work primarily with adolescent females, although I have had several younger children on my caseload in years past. Counties all over the state of Indiana contract with my agency in order to place children in one of our therapeutic foster care homes.
Once a child is placed, I am the case manager for the child through our agency, as well as the case manager for the foster home/foster parents. I am in charge of ensuring that the child is properly cared for, and that they receive any and all necessary services such as individual counseling, family counseling, and physical health treatment, as well as any additional services that are ordered through the courts.
I am responsible for building a relationship with the child, and offering them support and encouragement as they journey through the foster care system. Many times the case plan permanency goal for my children are to be reunified with their biological family, and I am responsible for ensuring that the child participates in supervised and/or unsupervised visits with their biological families, and that they are working toward achieving this permanency goal.
More Insights: I am most surprised at how much I enjoy my job, and have become so passionate about the work I do. I entered the foster care world thinking to myself that it was the last place where I'd want to end up working. I never thought I would find so much passion and joy working with foster care children in the Child Welfare System. I have been able to find a passion for these hurt, abused, and neglected children that I never knew existed.
The foster care system can be so taboo in our society, as there are many different negative beliefs about the system and what it entails. Many people will hear horror stories on the news about what goes on in a foster home. Much of it, unfortunately, is true, but it's too bad that these isolated incidents make the whole system look bad. Many people miss out on the chance to hear about all of the many significantly positive ways that foster care has helped children over the years.
I knew that it would be emotionally draining before I began working with my current agency, however I was surprised at just how much it affected me emotionally. When I first began working, I found myself very emotionally drained, and over the years I have had to learn how to balance my emotions and try to observe the personal boundaries with the children I work with. I find myself getting very emotionally invested with my cases, and often times go above and beyond for a child. It is important to maintain personal and professional boundaries, as I have had to learn how to keep my personal life personal, and to not let "work" affect me as much as it has in the past. This has been challenging, yet also a great learning experience as well.
I rate this career 7 out of 10.
One of the best parts of my career is that I am able to make a difference in the lives of children. I work with hundreds of kids and families and am able to see a child successfully be reunified with their biological family or be adopted by their foster family. It is great to see children achieve some kind of permanency in their lives.
The worst part of my job is that it can be emotionally draining. It can affect my personal life when I see children go through tough times, undeserving of it all.
Although social work can be emotionally draining and demanding, it is worth it to be able to see the difference that you have made in someone's life. Look into pursing your education further; there are many additional opportunities in the social work field for those who have a degree higher than a Bachelor's.
Many organizations offer tuition assistance, and that is definitely worth looking into. Also, keep an open mind when it comes to social work. You might find yourself interested in working with those whom you thought you wouldn't, and this can open many doors for you.