Westen Illinois University - College of Education and Human Services - Profiles Magazine - Departmental Update
What is your current position?
I have been a Child Welfare Specialist at Seguin Services for10 years & an Administrative milieu Coordinator at Riveredge Psych Hospital for 3 years.
What positions have you held since graduating from WIU that have helped you in your journey to your current position?
I have been in Mental Health, since 1993 working with Adults and since 1998 I have been working with DCFS wards of the state. I became a DCFS worker at Seguin services in 2000 to help minors, because they don’t have anyone and their family rarely has contact. I have experience in individual and group counseling, treatment plans, intake assessments and discharge planning. I have been an assistant residential administrator to several Community Integrated Living Arrangements (CILA) homes for developmental disabled adults. I supervised a staff of 15 individuals to assure that placements provided adequate care to the clients. I have been an instructor of non violent crisis intervention through the Crisis Prevention Institute for 10 years. I teach individuals techniques on defusing aggressive behavior, by using verbal de-escalation skills, and without physically touching a person.
Explain your current responsibilities and how your position is personally fulfilling.
At Seguin Services I help to get families reunified and seek out permanency for minors whose parents loose their parental rights. I refer parents and minors for services that assist in reunification, by preparing a service plan every six months that monitors their progress. I attend court hearings, provide updates on the progression of the case and seek recommendations from court personnel. My job consists of working with the parents that are participating in drug/alcohol treatment, domestic violence, medical training, and visitation of their children and parenting skills. My duties include working with parents who are required to have psychological assessments and mental health services. I love my job, because it gives me the opportunity to help children that didn’t ask to be in their position. The majority of the wards of the state doesn’t have contact with their parents and need some guidance. I feel providing structure, love and nurturing helps the minors cope with the loss of adult leadership. I treat every child on my case load as if they were my own child. I want to advocate and provide that trust and guidance children seek from adults.
At Riveredge I monitor the behaviors of mental health patients. My position consists of going to several units to verbally deescalate behaviors, prior to them getting out of control. I assess the situation and devise a plan of action with the cooperation of the patients. My goal is to help decrease anxiety in the patient and get them to apply coping skills. I utilize my counseling skills and get the individual to focus on the positive and work towards discharge from hospital. This position is fulfilling, because everyone experiences hard times in their life. I assist them in identifying techniques to get them focused and on task.
What are some of the most interesting challenges you have had in your career?
My biggest challenge is gaining the trust and respect of a client because the majority of them have been through some sort of traumatic experience. I was talking with a biological parent on the phone, while waiting on investigators to arrive and take custody of her new born. A parent who has children in the system, have to report any additional births and when the child is born, we may have to take custody due to risk of harm. I had a 5 year old on my caseload that died from her abuse and the disease contracted at birth. I once had to locate a client whom gave a plan of suicide, so I located the client, called the police for assistance and the client was placed in the hospital for treatment. A client experienced two traumatic incidents in which one was being beaten by his foster parents and the death of his sister, who was also in the system. Already knowing the circumstances of the case, I had to maintain professionalism, after watching the video of the minor being beat for several hours.
Why did you pursue a degree in Law Enforcement and Justice Administration from WIU?
I wanted to become a police officer, lawyer or open a security firm. I feel better served in the field of social work. I feel that I am a servant leader.
You are still very involved in Western Illinois University. What advice do you have for other alumni who want to become involved?
I recommend that anyone who wants to become involved should contact the college or department, which granted their degree or the Alumni Association. They need to be dedicated and sincere about the commitment they make to volunteering their services.
What advice would you give to graduating students? To what do you attribute your success?
I would advise graduating students to stay focused and committed to their dreams. They need to be active in achieving their success and always willing to learn new things. Their degree shows that they have the ability to complete a task and they are not just seeking a job, they are looking for a career. Individuals should utilize their support systems to reach their goals. I recommend being active in your University and promoting its success. The gratification of having an impact on another person’s life is very rewarding spiritually and open doors to your own success. I personally attribute part of my success to my parents. My mother provided encouragement to stay focused and on task and she believed in me, even when I had doubts. My father provided me with a strong work ethic and instilled in me to always be the best at what you do in life, no matter what it is. He often stated to me, “Be good at your job and learn the next person’s job in case yours is eliminated”. I attribute attending Western to my success, because the college experience prepared me to deal with society and its demands. I was trained in the field of Law Enforcement and Administration that prepared me to enter the work force. I learned anything is possible, if you work hard and commit yourself.