Every year, JCCA’s Robert Maslow Awards for Excellence in Practice recognize employees who have gone above and beyond their duties in support of JCCA’s mission. For a glimpse into the passion and dedication that power JCCA’s life-saving work, read our interview series profiling a few of the 2018 Maslow Winners.
Kinship Recruiter/Training, Foster Home Services
JCCA: Can you give us an overview of what you do?
VA: I work with people who are about to begin their roles as kinship foster parents—individuals who already have a link with a child in care. I gather all their documentation, and provide precertification and ongoing trainings for them. I advocate for and try to give them as much information as they need to start their role as foster parents. Later, I try to support them and lend an ear when needed.
JCCA: What are some of the major issues you face in recruiting foster parents?
VA: Space. Although we find many people willing to open their homes to children, often, due to space restrictions, they can only be licensed for a single child. Apartments are small in New York City and that affects our recruitment.
JCCA: What have you found are the most effective strategies in recruitment?
VA: Word of mouth!! Our own foster parents who refer friends and families are our most effective recruiters.
JCCA: What are some of the topics covered in training?
VA: Topics range from shared parenting and working with sexually abused children to child development, prudent parenting, SIDS, and discipline. We also offer trainings in Spanish.
JCCA: What do you find most satisfying about your work?
VA: The ability to reunite families. Even when some of our children are not able to return to their parents’ care, being able to certify kinship foster parents is extremely gratifying. Allowing children in care to have permanency gives us great satisfaction.
JCCA: Most challenging?
VA: The family dynamics of helping a kinship resource switch roles from being a grandmother, aunt, or brother/sister to a foster parent can be tough. We help them understand this change and what comes with taking on this new role.
JCCA: Any recent stories you can share?
VA: I worked with a kinship foster parent who was caring for two children who had been abused by their father. The foster mother would cry in my office recounting the stories of what these kids experienced, and the placement was difficult at times because of the children’s emotional trauma. But she persevered and successfully cared for the siblings for two years. Now, the youngsters have been reunited with their mother, and the foster mother continues to be a support for this family—they call and visit each other regularly.