Caitlin is a Family Resource Partner with the CEDARS Foster Care team. Not only does she support foster families, but she also helps interested families learn if fostering is right for them.
CEDARS: Hi Caitlin! Tell us about what it was like when you were a kid?
Caitlin: My family was very active. My favorite childhood memories are family bike rides, swimming in the summer, and playing outside with my neighbors and siblings. We would play neighborhood-wide games of capture the flag and hide and seek.
CEDARS: What is your current role at CEDARS
Caitlin: As a Foster Care Specialist, my role is to support foster parents and kids in their placements. We’re here to help make sure placements are safe and stable, and that both the foster parents and the youth in the home are set up for success. We provide resources, training, and day to day support to foster parents.
I’ve recently been helping out with foster parent recruitment as well. This means reaching out to people who are interested in learning about foster care, and answering their questions about the process and experience of foster care.
CEDARS: What is your typical day like?
Caitlin: There is definitely no typical day in foster care. It looks different every day. Working in foster care means attending home visits, court hearings, being a part of family team meetings, Individualized Education Program meetings, helping our homes get kids to dental/medical/therapy appointments and more. The rest of my time is spent in the office doing documentation, files, clinical consults, service planning, and working on recruitment!
CEDARS: What keeps you coming to work each day?
Caitlin: I feel a huge sense of responsibility to the kids that I work with, and the foster parents I work with are so inspiring to me. People make huge sacrifices and changes to their lives to be able to take in these kids and care for them, it’s amazing to watch! I’ve been lucky to work with some amazing foster parents, and it’s just inspiring to see the difference they can make for kids.
CEDARS: How do your values play a role in your work to help children and families?
Caitlin: Teamwork is crucial to this job. It can be emotionally draining work, so if you don’t feel supported by the people around you, you’ll burn out really quickly. I feed off of other people’s energy, so seeing people around me work hard, and help each other out, makes me want to worker harder, and help people out as much as I can.
I think in a job like this, you’re kind of always aware of how your values are impacting you, because you’re always trying to set an example for the kids you work with. If I’m having a rough day or I’m super stressed, I make a point to check in with myself and get to a good headspace before I meet with families or kids. I always want kids to know that I’m happy to see them, regardless of the circumstances. I want to be helping kids envision a future where they are successful and happy, and I think even something as small as showing up to work with a smile can help them see that for themselves.
CEDARS: What is something you have learned while helping children and families at CEDARS?
Caitlin: CEDARS is such a great environment to work in, and I’m learning how important that is when you’re doing difficult work. One thing that I love about working in human services is that people understand the importance of self-care.
CEDARS: How do you practice self-care and recharge?
Caitlin: I just got two kittens, so now I’m a kitten-mom. I recharge by spending time with my friends and family. I’m competitive and we are always playing some sort of game: board games, card games, bowling, trivia nights, and mini golf are some favorites.
CEDARS: What is your favorite part about your role in helping children and families?
Caitlin: One of my favorite parts of my job is being there for kids during the really difficult things: when they get bad news, when they’re dealing with a tough transition, etc. I really believe it’s a privilege to be able to be a safe, calming person in their lives when there is so much chaos around them.
CEDARS: What is something you want to make sure everyone knows about foster care?
Caitlin: I think some of the kids that we serve get a bad reputation. I would want everyone to know how much fun these kids are, how sweet they can be, and how strong and resilient they are in the face of some of the hardest life circumstances you could imagine. I think sometimes we expect kids/teens to be perfect and get upset if they don’t meet those expectations, but they’re human, and even when they mess up, they’re doing the best they can with what they’ve got. At the end of the day, they’re kids, and they need caring adults in their lives who will follow through and won’t give up on them.