Did you know March is Professional Social Work Month? In honor of such, we’d like to feature some of the incredible social workers that serve the foster and adoptive children and youth of Walden.
This month, we’ll introduce you to staff from our offices in San Diego, Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino. You’ll meet social workers who work in each of our main programs; including foster care, adoption, transitional housing plus foster care (THP+FC), and prevention services.
First, meet Julie:
1.) Why did you choose social work or what path led you to the profession?
I graduated college with a BA in Communication from Point Loma Nazarene University here in San Diego, and afterwards I moved to Seattle. The first job I got was in a Residential Care facility and I really enjoyed it. I then got hired as a Social Worker at Bethany Christian Services, licensing families for foster care and really loved it. I realized I had a passion for helping people and I decided to go back to school and get my Master’s Degree in Social Work.
2.) How long have you been at Walden? How many years in the industry?
I have been at Walden since April 2016. I have been in Social Work for over 18 years, but I did take a break for several years to teach English in South Korea and Taiwan, and to travel. I have worked as a Residential Care Worker. I was Executive Director of a six-bed residential care facility for boys between the ages of 6 to 12 from the foster care system. I worked as a Social Worker for Pregnant and Parenting Teen mothers. I’ve licensed families for foster care and done home studies. While in Korea, I was contacted by a Social Work agency and did home studies and supervision part-time for military families that were adopting.
3.) How did you come to Walden?
I had just finished working in Russia and moved back to San Diego. I knew I wanted to go back into social work and started looking on the websites of foster family agencies to see if they had any employment openings listed, and Walden had one for a Recruiter/Housing Specialist. I was immediately attracted to the job as I like doing a variety of things in my work, enjoy working with people, and the idea of finding housing for youth who really need it seemed especially appealing. I interviewed and was hired. The rest is history…
4.) What’s your favorite part of your job?
I love working with people. Every day I talk to over probably at least 15 people, from Walden employees, to foster families, to THP+FC youth, to Property Managers. No day is the same and I never just sit in the office. I get to travel around San Diego and look at apartments to put youth into housing, I get to license families for foster care. I love the variety my job provides and that at the end of the day I am always helping people.
5.) Tell us a Walden success story involving a client.
I recently had two clients were who friends, who had applied for the THP+FC program separately, and it worked out that I was able to place them together in a 2-bedroom apartment. These two are doing so, so remarkably well together and it’s wonderful to see them enjoy their lives, go to school and hold down jobs. I look forward to watching them continue to flourish thanks to the program.
6.) How do you like to spend your free time?
I have the travel bug and am always traveling, either internationally or here in the U.S. I just came back from Portland and am heading to San Luis Obispo this weekend. Last year I went to Cuba and Guatemala. I am very social and often out with friends at dinner, or an event.
Employees from Intuit and Jack in the Box stopped by the San Diego office Friday with cars fulls of gifts to fulfill the holiday wishes of children and youth in foster care.
A Razor scooter and helmet for Leo. A Princess Fantasy Dress Up Chest for Bethany. And pots and pans, blankets and other household necessities for youth in Walden’s transitional housing program.
Intuit, a leading provider of business and financial management solutions, has a long history of employee giving to benefit children in foster care. This year, San Diego-based Jack in the Box joined in granting holiday wishes with presents for older youth who are moving into their own apartments.
Walden is grateful for all of our corporate partners for their generous in-kind and financial gifts throughout the year. If you would like to join our corporate partners in brightening the holidays for a child in foster care, you can make a donation online. Make your gift by December 31 for tax-deductible credit in 2016.
Each year, the business community hosts backpack drives to provide school-age foster children and youth with necessary school supplies.
“Starting the school year with a new backpack is a rite of passage for many kids,” said Walden CEO Teresa Stivers. “For kids in foster care, new backpacks represent a way to fit in with classmates.”
This summer, Walden received backpacks from San Diego-based Global Algae Innovations, Inc., which uses algae to produce food, energy, and economic security.
In Los Angeles County, Chin Chin West Hollywood organized a bus trip, lunch at the restaurant and a visit from Los Angeles County Fire Station #7 as part of their annual backpack drive benefiting children and youth in Walden’s Encino foster care and transitional housing programs.
“We are grateful to our business and community partners who provide foster children and youth the tools they need to succeed at school,” said Stivers. “Both the in-kind donations and financial contributions we receive throughout the school year provide essential developmental and bonding experiences for the children and youth in our care.”
Parents are expected to serve as role models for their children, but we rarely stop to think about how parents develop the skills to fulfill their role. These expectations are especially tough on teen parents trying to care for their children before they have graduated from high school or figured out how to care for themselves. In San Bernardino County, Cal-Learn prepares teen parents with both the structure and incentives to meet these challenges and puts them on the path to self-sufficiency. Walden case managers work one-on-one with each teen to set goals, and develop a plan for graduating from high school. They also work with the county to connect young parents with child care, transportation, school supplies and other resources.
Teens enrolled in the program earn rewards for maintaining their GPA, completing their resume, and applying for college, trade schools or employment. They also earn rewards for developing the skills to nurture their children and meeting personal goals. These rewards can be redeemed for childcare necessities, such as diapers, wipes, bottles, and educational toys and books.