This month I had the immense privilege of being invited to be the Social Media Ambassador for the Family Focused Treatment Association’s (FFTA) annual conference. I anticipated that the event would be inspiring on many levels, digging into policy, advocacy, foster care, trauma-informed care, working with LGBTQ youth (and the list of relevant workshop topics goes on). While these workshops were fresh, relevant and well-presented, what really made the whole event special was all of the people I met.
Category: Voice of an FCNI Staff
I have worked at the Family Care Network for over ten years, and the ways in which this work and this agency has impacted me is immeasurable. This work is humbling; it gives me the opportunity to serve others, help them have hope, and allows me to call my passion “work”. It has changed who I am as a friend, daughter and sister.
“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” –Malcom X
This quote comes to mind as I think about all of the amazing young people I have the privilege to see move forward with their educational and career goals. Whether it is the elementary student who is connected with a perfect tutor to help them catch up with their peers, a high school senior who learns they have been accepted to all of the universities they applied to, or it's the new college graduate who lands the job of their dreams! Each one of the students we serve overcome many obstacles to reach their goals!
One of the most frequent concerns I hear from parents who are considering foster care or adoption is, “Will it be too hard on my kids?” There is certainly a fear of the unknown of how bringing a foster or adopted child into your lives will impact your current family. It is safe to say that adding a new family member to any family will change its current dynamics. This change is true if you add a new biological sibling, have a grandparent move in, remarry after divorce, or open your home to a foster or adoptive child.
Families are not static; they change frequently regardless of how much we wish we could keep them the same.
Many of us have a desire to open our lives to children in need of love and safety. It’s fun to dream of throwing open your front door to welcome an adorable foster child into the home. But becoming a Resource Parent is actually an intensive process that requires background checks, training, references, a home inspection, and what seems like an endless stack of paperwork. There are a lot of hoops to jump through before a child ends up on your doorstep. For many applicants, the most intimidating aspect of becoming a Resource Parent is the dreaded home study-- a comprehensive, written evaluation of the applicant’s strengths and issues. I know firsthand the scrutiny of inviting a stranger into my home to write about my life. Before I started writing home studies as a Social Worker, I was a foster parent! I’ve undergone five (FIVE!) home studies as a foster and adoptive parent in Indiana and California.
Our volunteers are not only appreciated, they are critical to our work. As a Community-Based Organization, our agency is heavily embedded in our community, just as our community is embedded in us—we must mutually serve and respond to one another’s needs. Caring for local children, youth and families means that we need a variety of people to carry out an assortment of important positions, including mentoring and tutoring, as well as volunteering at events, in our office or to meet a family’s needs. Without a team of people pulling together, contributing their time, talents and compassion to our mission, we could not execute a program, meet a single need, change one life, or empower one person to reach their goals, let alone the over 1800 lives we impact annually. Our community of volunteers are vital to us achieving our mission year in and year out
Self-centeredness is the enemy of love which is why therapists try to teach empathy and attunement to couples, parents and kids. When one can put oneself in another person’s shoes, then many of the walls which may have grown up between them can start to lower. Afterall, isn’t that the beauty and the risk of love--being willing to put someone else’s wellbeing ahead of your own?
Every one of our Social Workers has a personal journey which led them to their current roles--to their honorable profession of serving our community’s most vulnerable children and families. Below, one of our newest Social Workers, Irianna, shares her journey to FCNI and how her childhood influenced her future career path.
An average day for a Social Worker is hardly ever average. As with most human-centered professions, the unexpected is expected and challenges come from all directions. It certainly isn’t a job for everyone. But unlike the vast majority of careers, Social Workers are privy to moments of immense joy that can be breath-taking; moments where they get to see, first hand, light re-emerge from darkness, and healing blossom across heartbreak. While social work isn’t for everyone, for those who’ve dedicated their lives to it, these moments are what make everything else worthwhile.
In celebration of this vital and profound profession, and the real people behind the title, we want to share some honest reflections from our Social Workers--sharing why they love the work that they do day in and day out.
As is often the case, when something new comes along, something else typically gets displaced or overshadowed. The positive transition to emphasizing trauma-informed care and trauma-informed practices with children in foster care has had the unfortunate result of reducing the conversation on resiliency. While trauma-informed care has been a valuable shift in this field, it cannot and was not meant to standalone.