Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services, Gulfport
LSW, Certified Forensic Addiction Specialist
How long have you served as a field instructor?
It’s been many years. How I can tell that is by the employees who work here who came through as interns and have been back working as employees for 5-6 years.
What does being an instructor entail? What other responsibilities do you have?
I interview interns, and I explain what we do at CPS. I explain to them what I do as intake supervisor; reports that come in on daily basis, I review, screen and assign to the investigation unit that goes out and does assessments on concerns that come in.
I explain that every child we go out to check on, we don’t pick up. And just the process of social work and that our goal always, by any way possible, is to leave the child at home. Sometimes we have to remove the child, and then our goal is to return the child back home as soon as possible, even if that means placing with a relative. You always want to get the child back home, but in reality, every child is not coming home because of abuse or neglect that happened. Sometimes they’re placed for adoption and the parents’ rights are terminated.
I also explain to them about the resource unit that licenses relatives and foster parents, the adoption unit. Students will have the opportunity to shadow a worker, so they go out in the field. I talk to supervisors who are working with students to get as much as possible in all those areas. It also means going to court, sitting in family team meetings. A lot of times, that’s what students are looking for – “I really want to come back and work here.” I’ve had students fill out applications right at graduation, and when they finish up, they get hired.
What is your favorite part of your job? Of being an instructor?
Having the compassion to work with others and to see progress made with families. A lot of times, people assume families and parents don’t change. But to see a parent change. … And to see children have the opportunity to go back home. … The bottom line is we work not only with the child but also parents; they go through parenting classes, the children go through therapy. The goal is to minimize trauma as much as possible, trauma on the child and trauma on the parent.
What are the biggest challenges and rewards of the job? Of being an instructor?
Students are here to learn and be open-minded. Always be positive. When you go out in the field with a worker, you’re going with different individuals and picking up different tools and skills. It’s about being professional – we have a dress code, we have ethics. And most of all, don’t be judgmental.
Like I explain to the students, CPS is not for everyone. Many students come and realize this is not the type of social work they want to do; they want something less fast-paced, maybe in a school system or hospital. Our job here is 24/7, and I explain to students that if they go out in the field, it is not a guarantee they will be back at 5. We do on-call, where a worker is there at night from 5-8 p.m.