Welcome to our Chico Mountain Circle office, Christine!
We interview her about how she came to join our Chico team:
1.) Tell us a little about yourself… What is your degree in, and where did you get it? What is your plan in this field?
I have a B.A. Psychology and Human Services from DePaul University Chicago. I wanted to get into the human services/social services side because that deals with the larger spectrum, not just the individual. Psychology and counseling is a great resource but the emotional aspect is such a small portion of your well-being. I want to go down the social services route in order to give access to a whole range of resources.
Also, I like this field of work because if keeps me active; the diversity and energy is great, and always keeps me on my toes.
2.) Why did you apply for this position at Mountain Circle? With your background, what do you think you can offer to Mountain Circle’s foster care and adoptive families?
I used to work at a Group Home in Chicago as a counselor and so I saw the foster care system from a different perspective. In that environment, I saw how negatively children are affected when foster families don’t have the support and knowledge they really need when dealing with victims of trauma; in many ways this creates even more trauma. I saw this position and thought that my skills would benefit foster families greatly. My goal is to reduce trauma to the children, and support our families, offer resources, and work as a team. Especially with AB403 coming into effect January of 2017, foster families are going to need even more specialized training as they will be getting children from group homes. I want to help families look into the cause of certain behaviors, rather than punish those behaviors. Knowing the root problem will offer a better chance for children, and ultimately their success in life.
3.) So far, what do you love about your job?
Being a Mountain Circle Social Worker for foster and adoptive families means a bunch of different activities all the time. You never know what the day holds, and with my personality that challenge is appreciated! I like to be kept on my toes.
Also, our office here in Chico, is very supportive. Everyone here is their own individual but that also really know how to work as a team. I love our environment here at this office.
And, all of Mountain Circle foster parents are in this for the right reasons. I can tell already- each foster parent that I talk with want what’s best for the children.
4.) What would you consider the most challenging part of this work?
Communication barriers with other agencies. It’s incredibly challenging when you are trying to make a good fit for a child and foster family, and you don’t have all of the information. For example, gathering the child’s history, such as, triggers and traumas can be difficult. The more information we have, the easier it is to place the child with the correct family; unfortunately, a lot of information falls through the cracks agency to agency.
5.) Did you have preconceived notions before getting involved with foster families, if so, how have those ideas changed? How have they not? Did you know what to expect?
Yes. The system in Chicago is different but my experience was with dealing with funds always being cut, mental health services being cut, and the lack of support for those that needed it. Foster parents were not properly trained, not supported. I often questioned their motives because I saw the other side. I saw so many kids not successful, and have even more trauma coming from foster care, because of foster parent lack of knowledge, support, and resources available to them.
Here at Mountain Circle, I see how we support and train foster families, and therefore really establish safe and stable homes for children in their time of need. I’ve seen our foster parents make tough decisions in the best interest of the foster child. I’m able to give support where needed, and I appreciate the families for all they do. From what I’ve witnessed, they are all in it for the right reasons.
6.) How are you adjusting to your new job now that things slowly becoming clear, and you are gaining more knowledge?
When I first started, I felt I had the skills, just not the knowledge. It was intimidating to ask questions in the midst of our daily busyness. At the same time, I enjoyed, and continue to enjoy, the daily challenge. I just kept moving forward. Also, it helped me build a rapport with our families and county social workers. I would tell them I was unsure of many things and that I was in the process of learning; they really seemed to appreciate the honesty.
7.) As a result of SAFE training, you missed our first official Running With The Bears staff preparation meeting. But, now that it’s kick-off season, what are your thoughts regarding our biggest fundraiser of the year? Excited, nervous, both?
I have no idea what to expect. I know it’s a huge deal, and I’m ready for the challenge. I worked on a coordination team with another run/walk called Out of the Darkness for the American Foundation Suicide Prevention organization. Through that experience, I know how crazy events like these can get. It should be really fun.
8.) What are you most looking forward to here at Mountain Circle?
Learning more about everything. I like to stay up to date on all social services information, such as, AB 403. I’m looking forward to the knowledge I can gain here. Working with children who are losing their families is quite humbling, so there is going to be a lot of personal growth here, and I’m looking forward to it!