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Input from colleagues?

2011

Hello Everyone!
 
I find myself at a crossroads and very unsure of what direction to take.  I have worked in several areas of our field,(ie Family & Children services, group home, respite, etc) and most recent a school board.  I've stuck it out with the school board for six years, and yet find myself still very unhappy with the position.  I am presently on maternity leave and I was really hoping to be rejuvenated, get motivated and be more optimistic about going back.  I have found the complete opposite.  I now feel I would like to do something on my own, in a position where I can really push to be an advocate for children, help parents who struggle with their children, and be a voice.  I can't do that where I am. 
 
I'm at a loss though of where to go and what to do.  Do I go back to school and pick something up, do I go out on my own, do I change professions?  What credentials should I have if I try on my own?  UGH I don't know, all I know is I am really unhappy with where I am right now.  As far as my own schooling I have my American Sign Language Interpreter, ECE, and of course my CYW.
 
I look to you, my colleagues, who know what this field is about and why we are committed to it.  I just need help on where and what I can do.  What more is out there for us, waiting for us to pick up and run with?  I want a position where my input counts, I'm encouraged to speak vs, "just do it our way" and not share the same wanted outcome. 
 
I value all input, please help.
 
Thank you for reading.
 
Tina
...

Hi Tina,
 
My main thing I would say is to follow your heart, do what you feel passionate about. If being an advocate is something you are passionate about, why don't you investigate about potential type of advocate jobs in where you live? You say you have your ASL interpreting, how about integrating all you have learned and create a role that seems more fitting for you- perhaps working with Deaf individuals? I know that as a fact, there are a lack of good role models for Deaf individuals all over the place. Perhaps you can be a part of the ripple effect. I am wondering where do you live exactly? Perhaps telling us where you live will help us get ideas and such. 
 
I can relate to you about being rejuvenated, although I admit it is sort of for a different reason... I am Deaf myself and I went through 4 years of degree program in Bachelor of Child and Youth Care and I was passionate with what I believe in, and passionate about creating a ripple effect in my profession because I have experienced and seen so many struggles Deaf child, youth and families experience through the system and they 99 percent of the time fall through the cracks. Although, in the middle of my degree program I noticed my passion changed- mainly because of how I was treated as a Deaf individual, frustrations with a job, and finding that I am not really enjoying my practicums and the classes. 
 
I decided it was time to follow my heart and do what I have always wanted to do, I am currently at Gallaudet University starting first time ever on January 18 and I am super excited because I now know it IS something I am passionate about because with my Psychology degree I can create more effects of change- it is truly sad that a position of power actually has a difference in how or what type of changes you could make. 
 
Follow your heart, you have a variety of education, why not combine them all and do something you are passionate about? You can always create your 'role' as an advocate and meet with different agencies in your town/city and present yourself. You'd be surprised how many agencies would be onboard with it especially if you show your Practice. I was taught from a very good former professor of mine- "OWNING YOUR OWN PRACTICE", which means we need to stick with what we believe in, and be passionate about and show it to the world. Our own practice tend to eventually be lost and change into the older CYC, or agencies' mandates, milieu, etc. Be a part of the ripple effect we all are trying to create in this profession, own your own practice and present yourself as an advocate, or whatever you believe in and go to agencies and show what you believe in and what you are passionate about. 
 
I wish you good luck! Let us know how it goes. 
 
Am
 
Amber Schultz
BA CYCW
...
 
Hi Tina,
I understand your conflict so well.  I left the school board to return to graduate school because I was so frustrated with how limited my role was, this in turn limited my ability to support the youth and their families.  In fact, my role as educational assistant was either under-appreciated or I was expected to perform the impossible, with shrinking supports and resources. I've been told by some students on placement from my current MSW program, completing placements in schools, that it can be equally challenging to support the children and youth within the school system in this role because there is usually only 1 social worker covering at least 8-10 schools!  I too need to think about where I want to focus my energies as I prepare to graduate because I too value my contributions and what to create meaningful work that makes a difference in the lives of my clients.
 
I am just completing my MSW in central Canada after working as an educational assistant for the school board for 4.5 years.  I also worked as a children' advocate in a woman's shelter for 4 years and a drop in centre of at risk, transient and street identified youth for close to 5 years, with an 8 year break to support our 2 children.  My undergraduate degree was in Child Studies which has since been renamed,  Applied Arts in Child and Youth Services degree and I graduated from this program 20 years ago in eastern Canada.  My focus for my entire career has been supporting children and youth and their families.  When I started my career in child protection, I was hired to work on a prevention project that was focused on preventing family breakdown and crisis, (which I'm sure you know, often results in children entering into foster care), by providing supports to families and children, (1:1 workers assigned to a family, in addition to their CAS worker).  These were collaborative efforts and the assessments that determined our involvement, grew from collaborative efforts from family, school, public health, CAS etc.  I would liken it to what's now commonly referred to as the "Wrap Around Program"  This position did not get renewed funding (as we all know prevention is not readily funded and now even essential services are often at risk) so I relocated to central Canada to pursue my graduate studies in social work.  I took 8 years off when our 2 girls were born as I felt I wanted to give that to my children.  That was a difficult decision to remove myself from the career trajectory, however, I have no regrets despite the financial challenges it created at times.  So 20 years later...I will graduate in June 2011 with my MSW in clinical social work. 
 
If it's of any help or comfort to you, please know that there are work environments that do value what you have to contribute, however, it will be necessary for you to be clear about what you need and the compromises you're willing to make, when choosing your work place...as there will always be greater or lesser gains and losses, good supervisors, supportive co-workers or not.  I think that your desire to participate in meaningful work with children and youth is a good indication of your commitment and sincere desire to make a difference. 
 
My last supervisor taught me a valuable lesson with regard to claiming our own professional and personal power, to create the kind of relationships that demonstrate the scope of our practice and our commitment to our clients.  There will always be challenges when negotiating these relationships and it may take some time before people will understand how you wish to conduct yourself professionally and where your commitments start and finish, however,  over time, it will become clear to others how you work as a professional.  If you have some supportive co-workers or a supervisor who may be willing to meet with you to discuss your challenges with returning to your current position, that may be worth some consideration.

It sounds like you need to participate in work that is valued and where you feel empowered to support your clients.  If you could meet with your supervisor with some ideas about how you believe you could make a difference, by introducing, even one new idea...buddy mentoring, conflict resolution peer mediation, girls group to support self esteem, and I'm sure you can come up with many creative ideas,  then perhaps you could shift the
tide in your current situation.   
 
It sounds like your have access to many children and families who need your support and certainly you can demonstrate your level of commitment, however, it's trying to create the circumstances to make this work for you and your clients.  If you are feel limited in the scope of your practice and can see no willingness from your supervisors to support your efforts to create something more meaningful, then you have no alternative but to consider a move, for your own personal and professional well being.  It's been my experience that it's always better to look for other positions while employed and there may be positions within the school board that better suit your needs.
 
I hope you have time to reflect on your strengths and your desire to move towards new, meaningful challenges...there is always a risk involved...and the "moment of absolute certainty seldom arrives" but think about the possibilities!
 
All the very best,
Brenda
...
 
Hi Tina,
 
It's fairly common and healthy to want some change that will better suit what you are looking for! Kudos to you for recognizing these feelings and pursuing something else. Where do you live?
  
Danielle Jimeno
A Place To Grow Childcare Centre
...
 
Dear Tina
 
It sounds like you are at an interesting cross roads and I have to say I can't help but get an adrenaline rush just thinking about your story. Here you have a chance at change and transformation! A new journey! With that said, I can also see how this could be an overwhelming and frustrating place to be.
 
I thought about the choices you presented such as going back to school, changing your job, or starting something up on your own all of which are such great options. I think seeking out feedback from others is a super way to juggle out all the possibilities. Something that I do that helps me in transitions such as this is exposing myself to new, refreshing and positive material. Sark is an author of an incredible array of books on topics such as pleasure (Eating Mangos Naked is the title of one of her books on pleasure). They are written in lots of colour and illustrations by Sark herself. Her books are all about being creative in and with life. Why I suggests this is because it is something that has worked for me, I have found that by exposing myself to a refreshing perspective about life I was able to let my own creativity flow. Reading her books has altered my way of looking at the world in a time when i needed a new lens to look through. I found by adopting and seeking out a new perspective opportunities opened up right before me, including insight into my own great capacity to play an equal part in seeking out and making pleasure be a part of my everyday life, as Sark states "we can find pleasure everywhere". Reflecting on my own experiences I discovered how little recognition I paid to how I was looking at the world, or dealing with negative situations that seemed unable to change. For example dealing with someone negative in my life was draining and created a buildup of negativity, but a very insightful life coach gave me great advice when he gave me the assignment of looking at this person through a lens of love and compassion and to send this person love in my mind. He also told me how taking everything personally in turn validated the things this person had said about me, made me feel, and how I was being treated. This was an eye opener!

So this might sound backwards but I say this with lots of joy and good intentions, congratulations on this new adventure, this is an opportunity for you and it sounds to me like you are on the right track to discovering what it is you would like to do, your passion.

All the best to you, 
Vanessa Lalonde
...
 
With the intro of full day kindergarten, school boards now employ ECE's. You may enjoy this position more at this point in your life.  Perhaps you may want to consider a different type of position with your board.  Probably not helpful but just a thought. 
 
Robin Brown
...
 
The best advice that I can give to you is to go where your heart takes you.

If you choose to go back to a job, that you have tried and you know it does not make you happy, then ask you, what are you doing for yourself?? You should take a leap and find what makes yourself happy. You should enjoy going to work, find some comfort in it, be proud of what you do! You certainly have some impressive education, is there something that you have tried and truly enjoyed?? Get out there and follow your heart, spread your wings and love what you do!!
 
Best of Luck
Amanda Canning
...

Check out Neighbourhood Houses. They existed in Victoria BC when I was doing practicums back in the day.  
 
Good luck!
Denise Bailey
...
 
So I am just throwing this out there ... but ... you have amazing goals and huge dreams! If you see it and don't follow it, then who will. At some point we need to put ourselves out there, start it and see where it takes us. I understand that you have 2 small children and that should always be your first priority. But, couldn't you do both??
 
You could put it all on paper, explain what you are offering and how youth and their families can benefit. Write it out and then ask your self ... doesn't my community deserve this??
 
I live in Moncton and I just recently learned of a meeting that is held quite frequently. I think the group is called Enterprise Moncton. You bring your business plan and they help you with the rest. The provide tons of information to individuals who want to start their own business. Best part ... its free!! They have actually sponsored some people with starting their business.
 
All I am saying is don't give up, even if it takes a few years or you wait until your children are older, follow your dreams. One day, you will find that some dreams do come true!!
 
Best of Luck!! :)
 
Amanda Canning
________ 

 

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