My practicum site was at the Department of Children and Family Services within the Legally Free Unit with Tommy Williams. He has been a social worker for DCFS for approximately seven years. The purpose of DCFS is to protect abused and neglected children. The program is The program is responsible for the investigation of child abuse and neglect complaints, child protection, family preservation, family reconciliation, foster care, group care, in-home services, independent living and adoption services for children ages 0 to 18 years. I specifically worked in the Legally Free Unit of DCFS which is for children ages approximately 7-17 whose parents have has their parental rights terminated and the children are not able to be adopted for various reasons.
The type of psychological work the agency engages in primarily is cognitive behavioral therapy, they also tend to use a family dynamic therapy because one of the main focuses of children within the system is the role of the family and how they always want the child to go back home.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of psychological approach that uses talk therapy to address dysfunctional emotions, behaviors and cognitions through a goal-oriented, systemic process. Due to the fact that a lot of children in foster care tend to place blame on themselves, CBT helps them to replace maladaptive, coping skills, cognition, emotions and behaviors with more adaptive and acceptable ones, by challenging an individual’s way of thinking and the way that they react to certain habits or behaviors.
Specifically the kids that I worked with were considered “legally free” meaning that they are “unadoptable.” The parental rights to the children have been terminated due to neglect or any type of abuse. Usually these kids suffer abuse/neglect for years before they are taken from the care of their parents and placed into the system. Because of this most, if not all had some sort of mental problems. A lot of them have lost hope for a better future and feel completely unwanted. The kids are usually between of the ages of 12 to 18, therefore they are no longer considered children and most people looking to adopt are not looking for adolescents.
Tommy Williams was the social worker I was assigned to and he has a passion for working with adolescents in foster care to help them figure out what they are going to do. Within the DCFS cases he works primarily with young men. A lot of the kids in his unit are older and refuse to go to counseling. Of the twelve cases Tommy and I worked on while I was there, seven boys were in some sort of group home, five of which were currently on the run, two were in a juvenile detention center, and the rest were in foster homes or I had not had the option of meeting them. Since they refuse to go to counseling, Tommy goes out of his way to help them set goals for themselves in order to change the feelings, thoughts and behaviors.
One way that my practicum site provided me with psychological knowledge was monthly home visits. Social workers are required to do visits every month to check in with the kids and see how they are doing with school, family life, life in general. We would drive to the sites together and Tommy would debrief me on the case/client we would be meeting with. When we got there depending on if the kid was in assisted living or a foster home we were talk to other staff or parents about how the client was doing and then would ask to talk to the client alone. Tommy and I would then ask the client how he was doing, if he was having any problems, if he needed anything, how school was going, how he was transitioning and depending on age if he was ready to age out. We would just chit chat, have some small talk and then Tommy would always ask if the client had his number, both work and personal cell number. Tommy told me it is important to always tell a client to call if they needed them, no matter what it was. Then we would leave. Once we left we...
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