Susan Snyder ’01 wholeheartedly recommends CalSWEC and a job in public child welfare to interested students. She says that in her work in the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services Emergency Response Unit, she sincerely feels able to make a difference and have an impact on children. “Nothing compares to that,” she says. UCLA’s CalSWEC program gave her the fundamentals that she honed into her current assessment skills, which she uses in investigating allegations of child abuse. She was grateful for the CalSWEC experience, which allowed her to take classes geared toward learning about public child welfare and gave her access to professors who are knowledgeable about work in that field. When faced with a serious dilemma on the job, she says she tries to imagine what her CalSWEC professors would do in that situation, and that thinking guides her decisions. Susan is very satisfied with her choice to work in public child welfare – she truly feels that she is making a difference and that she can see the tangible, positive results of her interventions with children and their families.
Corey Hanemoto's ’97 job with the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is a little different than many other former CalSWEC students. Corey is a program analyst for the Adoptions Division, where he is responsible for the management and organization of a range of data, such as averages for the time it takes to move a case through a finalized adoption. Corey describes his job as going beyond case management, and says that he uses the expertise regarding public child welfare that he gained in the CalSWEC program as a filter for organizing the mountains of data that come across his desk. He believes that his learning in the CalSWEC program has enabled him to navigate a large organization and taught him the basic policies and practices of DCFS, but also gave him skills he could use in any job he might choose to do. Corey is extremely satisfied with his career choice. He enjoyed his early experiences as a case-carrying worker, but believes that what he does now has a greater impact on the families and children served by DCFS. The data he develops leads to the implementation of plans and policies that have lasting positive impacts for clients. Corey’s greatest motivation to continue his work in public child welfare is the continued opportunity to learn on the job and try new things. “It never gets old,” he says.
Carla Cavalier ’02 is a social worker in the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services Family Maintenance and Reunification program, and began her work in September of 2002. She credits her CalSWEC education with giving her a “leg up” over the social workers that started work at the same time she did. In reflecting on any given workday, Carla says that she can see that she is using knowledge gained through her internship, class readings, and classroom exercises that were part of the CalSWEC curriculum and designed to enhance her knowledge of public child welfare. Carla says that her time at UCLA sharpened her inherent ability to empathize and listen, and says she uses these two skills as tools in making a difference in her client’s lives, by making it clear that she is a support they can rely on. Carla looks forward to seeing the results of the new DCFS director’s plan to return more social workers to case carrying status, which she anticipates will lower caseloads. Lower caseloads mean more face-to-face time with clients and more time for arranging “extras” for her kids that can fall by the wayside when workloads get too high. “I love my job,” Carla says, “It is difficult, intricate, and complex.”
Stan Esperon'98 has been working in the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services Adoptions Unit for five years, where his job is to develop permanent plans for children who may not be able to return to their families of origin. He finds great satisfaction in aiding kids find permanency - kids who would otherwise languish in foster care. " Stan credits his UCLA education with teaching him to look at the overall picture when working with a child or family, paying attention to the effects of the environment on both. He recommends CalSWEC to students interested in working in public child welfare because of the support he received from fellow CalSWEC classmates during his time in school. He enjoys the challenge of working at a large public child welfare agency, where he says he is constantly learning. Stan acknowledges that the work can be frustrating at times, but makes an effort to stay focused on the positive. An example of how he maintains this focus is by attending the hearings where adoptions he orchestrated are finalized. "What I do does make an impact," he says, and seeing his clients achieve permanent homes makes that clear.
For a year prior to her entry into UCLA’s MSW program, Gloria Escamilla-Huidor ’99 worked on the front lines of Children’s Services in San Diego County’s Health and Human Services Agency. “I didn’t know what I was getting into,” she says, and explains that she felt unprepared to perform such an important job. Gloria decided to enter UCLA’s CalSWEC program in order to learn more about the theories and research that govern child welfare practice, so that she could be a more effective and responsible child welfare worker. Participating in CalSWEC was, “the best choice I could have made,” she says. Gloria returned to Children’s Services in San Diego after completion of her MSW, and just recently began working in the Interstate Compact for Placement of Children, a unit whose purpose is to protect dependent children placed outside the state of original jurisdiction. In that unit, Gloria coordinates placements for children coming to San Diego from other areas or for residents of San Diego who need to be placed elsewhere, in addition to assisting with independent adoptions. She feels very satisfied with her career choice, where she has not only the opportunity to aid children in need of protection, but also the opportunity to assist families in working through the problems that led to abuse in the first place. In this way, she sees herself creating a more stable and healthy family environment for children to return to. She, like other former CalSWEC students, points out that in a job in public child welfare, one is never bored, is always learning, and has the opportunity to grow and change professionally. Gloria knows that she is making decisions on behalf of children that will lead to a more positive life experience for them, and focuses on those differences to stay motivated in her work. She also points out that having peers in social work (her husband is also a social worker, who was in the UCLA program with her) with which one can discuss the challenges and triumphs of the work can be an amazing source of support.