Sunday, July 3, 2016

Having Workforce Programs in Low Income Areas

Every child deserves an opportunity to succeed in order to become a productive citizen. Imagine a world where, right after a student graduates high school, they are fully prepared to enter the workforce. There is much evidence to support the theory that schools that implement workforce programs provide students with the skills they need to enter the working world. Workforce programs provide guidance, support, and current programming that can help individuals succeed. If every high school had a career office, and taught workshops that included interviewing techniques, resume writing, job search, and workplace etiquette, more individuals would be prepared for the job market.

Children who come from low-income families are more likely to be unemployed and have lower levels of educations. This is an area of opportunity to reach out to communities plagued with poverty, and to provide the needed career resources to help combat unemployment rates. Having programs for both students and adults can prepare individuals of all ages to enter the workforce. Children need the right opportunities and exposure to career choices and options.  The government and various localities need to provide these social programs to help alleviate poverty. Workforce social programs can bring opportunities to communities that are low income. Residents might not have transportation or access to the internet and computers to search and apply for jobs. This social solution can provide career workshops and assistance in the job search process.

A community that is thriving with income and resources can reduce crime, gang violence, and other social problems that effect communities. If government programs do not allocate funds to start these community centers, macro practitioners can utilize their social work skills to gather needed materials for these centers. Macro practitioners can help with these issues by volunteering to teach various career classes. Organizing fundraisers for computers, resources, and other materials to help job seekers. Networking with businesses to donate money or items for new job packages which includes professional work clothes, bus passes, lunchboxes, and other items needed when someone starts a new job. Macro social workers are not only taught how to work directly with clients, but how to work with the community to solve social problems. Social workers can also utilize administrative skills to write grants to get additional funding to pay a full-time or part-time staff member to run the workforce program. Investing in the community can help reduce social problems if individuals are given the skills and tools to obtain employment. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

CPS Reporting and Mandated Reporter Training

In Virginia, there are  different CPS referral reporter sources. Many forms are attorneys, CASA, babysitters, clergy, counselors, court/probation, dentists, Department of Social Services staff, eligibility workers, ex-spouses, parents, neighbors, parole officers, medical professionals, school staff, and a lot of other individuals in the community. While talking with my supervisor in supervision, she informed me that a lot of the mandated reporter training is not touching on the cultural competence piece. 

Being culturally competent is not being of the same race or ethnicity to understand the culture. Cultural Competence is the ability of individuals and systems to respond respectfully and effectively to people of ALL cultures, classes, races, ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, and faiths or religions in a manner that recognizes, affirms, and values the worth of individuals, families, tribes, and communities and protects and preserves the dignity of each. 

I challenge you to take the Harvard Implicit Test to better understand your personal biases. Being self-aware of any biases can help you to understand yourself better, and have better relationships when  working with clients, families, groups, and communities. As an inspiring macro social work practitioner, I still have to be aware of my biases and work on being culturally competent. 

I wanted to look at the data from the Virginia Child Protective Service Referral Reporter Source Annual Report. This report period is from 7/1/2013- 6/30/2014. 

Here are a few highlights:

In Prince William County, (Northern Region) there were 1,162 reports made from Public Schools and  1,068 referrals made from Law Enforcement and 4,658 total reports made from various sources.

In Richmond City (Central Region), there were 337 reports made from counselor/therapist, and 306 reports made from Law Enforcement. The total number of reports made last fiscal year were 2,425. 

In Loudoun County, (Northern Region) there were 641 referrals made from Public School and 413 referrals made from Law Enforcement. There were a total of 2,319 reports made last fiscal year. 

In Roanoke City (Piedmont Region) there were 376 referrals made from  school staff and 370 reports made from unknown sources. There were a total of 2,155 reports made last fiscal year. 

In Norfolk, (Eastern Region) there were 276 referrals from Law Enforcement, and 229 from unknown sources. There were a total of 1, 997 reports made last fiscal year. 

In the City of Alexandria, (Northern Region)  the highest CPS referrals came from Schools with 277 reports, and Law Enforcement with 243 reports made last fiscal year. The City of Alexandria had 1,133 reports. 

I included Alexandria because I am using them as a comparison. So, we have all this data, and what does it mean? There are a lot of reports being made from law enforcement and public schools. Are public service workers culturally competent and can differentiate between poverty and neglect? Not being aware of other cultures interfere with making reports. What can we do with this data to make our community partners aware of these issues?

How can we raise awareness about poverty, child abuse, and the many stressors of poverty? We have to first present the data, because numbers tell a story that we cannot. We have to have the data to support our argument. We have to find common ground with other people in the community to make them aware of these issues are clients face on a daily basis. I am an advocate for the child, but also for the family. You have to work with the family to help reduce child poverty. You have to look at this issue from a holistic approach, and understand how the systems interrelate with each other. Let's have a discussion. Please post in the comment box below, what you we can do to eliminate these social problems. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

CASA targeted recruitment and disproportionality in Child Welfare

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) is a National child advocacy program that judges appoint to speak for the safety and well-being of abused and neglected children. By being independent investigators and advocates, volunteers can make all the difference in these children's lives. Research shows that children with a CASA volunteer are much less likely to languish in long-term foster care.

Volunteers are the heart of the program and do amazing work for children in the child welfare system. Many people have not heard about this program, and it is our job as social workers to get the message out. When trying to combat disproportionality in child welfare, this program would be a good way to give minority children a voice. Recruiting male volunteers, as well people of color is beneficial because of their perspective, and experience in life. When children of color have advocates who look like them, it makes it easier for them to open up.  Often time social workers may be apart of a dominant race, come from a two parent home which may influence their decision making when working on the case. It is important for social workers to be culturally sensitive and aware of personal biases.

How can you recruit for your local CASA program?

  • Reach out and host CASA events in local community centers
  • Religious institutions because they are the spiritual center within communities of color
  • Local NAACP, Urban League, and other social justice organizations 
  • Passing out flyers, information, and brochures
  • Attending local community events to share information and discuss CASA
I joined CASA four years ago because I was working on my BSW and I wanted to do something meaningfully. I was interested with working with youth in foster care. CASA is a great way to give back and advocate against injustices happening to children of color. Being a CASA is rewarding, and brought joy to my heart. As a CASA you go through a 30-hour training, get swore in by a judge. Once you are a CASA you speak with everyone on the case, Guardian at Litems, biological parents, foster parents, family members, teachers, guidance counselors, case managers, and the child or children on the case.  You have to write reports for the judge to read, and in my experience, the judge actually read my report. He took in consideration my opinion and recommendations. If you know someone who is interested or you are interested in become a CASA volunteer visit this website:

These are just a few suggestions to get you started on targeted recruitment for CASA. Always be honest and have statistics about the child welfare system on hand. This advocacy program can make a difference in a child's life. Just think if we had more child advocates of color. There are already in the community, we just have to reach out to them, and make them aware of the great work this program does.