Working at Taller de José I have met wonderful people and have seen a variety of cases. In my previous work life, I worked alongside DCFS and many children. Working there I unintentionally viewed the foster parents as the heroes who save these children. As I have continued my social work education and have recently advocated for parents dealing with a DCFS cases at Taller de José, I am thankful for this new perspective. Interacting with the parents and seeing the story from their point of view is very important when it comes to helping the family altogether. Taller de Jose has offered an amazing opportunity to gain a viewpoint I feel I was missing.
This particular case involves a young mother who was experiencing domestic violence. After every incident, her abuser would threaten her by telling her that he would call DCFS if she even thought of leaving him. One day she received a knock on the door. She explained that at first she thought it was the knock of her perpetrator but it was actually from a couple of police officers and a social worker from DCFS. She said the social worker took the kids and a couple of their belongings while the police officers tried to explain the situation to her in English. She said she did not understand a word they were saying and asked for them to tell her in Spanish. The police officers only raised their voice at her and left. This mother did not know where her children were for weeks. She said she stopped doing everything because all she would do is cry and wonder about the safety of her children.
Despite her trauma, this young mother always has a positive attitude. I accompanied her to some of the court hearings and to mediation. Mediation is a meeting where the parents, foster parents, DCFS, attorneys, and social workers come together and plan ahead keeping in mind the best interest of the children. Although I worked alongside DCFS, I had never attended mediation. I really liked how the mediators included everyone in the meeting and asked for many opinions. If there were any conflicting ideas between the foster parents and the biological mother, the mediators took into account both of their perspectives and helped them explore their rationale. By the end of mediation, the mom told me she felt really good about where her children were placed and looks forward to getting her children back.
I feel beyond blessed in working in the Villita community. There are many resources that are available for the community; resources I did not even know existed. At first I was really nervous about handling cases first-hand; in the little amount of time that I have been here, I have learned so much about people and resources. I feel confident in the work that I do. Overall, my experience at Taller de Jose has been fascinating. My coworkers are very supportive which makes it an overall great intern experience.
*All stories are based on real client stories, but names and details have been changed to protect client confidentiality.