Rebecca McClellan
Department of Social Services- Division of Child Protection Services in Chamberlain SD
Working in social services fulfills my desire to assist families to create a better life today and a better future for their children. Every day presents a new challenge that requires knowledge, compassion, creativity, resourcefulness and tenacity. The field of social services is vast, but the main purpose is to make life better for those you serve.
The greatest challenges are time and resources. The number of children that come into care and the efforts necessary to meet their needs is a priority and a constant. The children typically come in with a number of needs which require evaluation, coordination of services, transportation and monitoring. Parents are also in need of services, resources and a support system. Living in a rural area means some services are not available in the immediate area which means extra time for locating resources and arranging transportation.
My position has many rewards and is not based on the final outcome. Finding answers for a child struggling with behaviors or a medical issue is very rewarding. Hearing a parent reflect on how things were and what they want for their children’s future, seeing a parent and child spend quality time together, having a parent move from anger to understanding and hope. The rewards are not always exceptional but in the moment can be significant toward the process of change. Smiling faces are always rewarding!
In my lifetime I have been involved with the care and concern of children in numerous ways. I was a single foster parent to six children at a time and a CASA volunteer. Making a difference in the life of a child in foster care can simply mean you help a foster parent. Bring a meal, make some snacks, and help throw a birthday party. Simply ask how you can help them or the child. Call your local Child Protection Services office and ask if there are any needs. Become a licensed foster parent and provide respite or emergency care.
Success stories are not always about the final outcome but the progress or change members of the family achieve. A parent that takes steps to change and expresses a desire for their children to have a safe, healthy, supportive and loving home can be success whether they are able to achieve that or not. Having finality, whatever that looks like, is success when the end result is the children are safe, well cared for and stable to ensure their continued development and a chance at a better future.
I appreciated having a CASA assigned to one of my more unique and challenging cases to be another set of eyes and ears focused on the best interests of the children. The volunteer was cognizant of the demands on my time and consistently communicated her concerns regarding the children’s needs and care and future to the foster parents the children’s attorney and myself. The CASA obtained a clear picture as to the impact the neglect and abuse had on each child and reported to the court through the life of the case. At the final hearing, the CASA was able to testify to the children’s need for a safe, stable and permanent home.