Friday, April 25, 2014

Jennifer Tenbrook, Intern at Ashland Parenting Plus

What are your job duties at your internship?  What kinds of activities have you been involved in at your agency?

My primary duty is to create interactive lesson plans and lead the groups. I go into Ashland Middle School, Ashland High School, Mapleton Middle School, and Ashland County Community Academy (ACCA). In these schools, I lead the girls’ groups. Throughout the semester, I have led lessons on reproductive biology, protective factors (conditions that reduce the effect of stressful life events), STDs, relationships, and drug and alcohol use. I have also conducted research on the teen pregnancy rates in Ashland County to determine the success of Ashland Parenting Plus’s programs. This research will be used to provide evidence that the agency needs to advocate for a program for our transition youth (18-19 year olds) who are no longer in the program but are still at a high risk for teen pregnancy. I have also worked with the Child Abuse and Neglect Awareness Committee (CAN) to help plan the events for April.
How has Ashland University's Social Work program prepared you for your internship?
One thing that I thought I would rarely use was the information we learned in our research class. However, my biggest project required using skills that I learned in that class (thanks, Dr. Vimont). The program also helped with knowing how to interact with clients and show empathy effectively. I was very nervous when the internship started but quickly realized I was well prepared.
What has been most enjoyable or valuable about your internship experience so far?
Interacting with the students is definitely my favorite part. My group sizes vary from 2 students to 10 (as long as everyone shows up). There is never a dull moment with the students, whether they are in a good mood or a bad mood…or both during the same group.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Alexandra Higgins, Intern at Richland County Children Services

What are your job duties at your internship?  What kinds of activities have you been involved in at your agency?

During my time at Richland County Children Services, I have had the opportunity to be a part of a variety of experiences. I have been fortunate enough to be able to shadow and observe the work that intake and ongoing caseworkers do on a daily basis. I have also been able to get my feet wet with the agency’s kinship care program, which provides services to family members that have taken in a younger relative like a grandchild or a niece or nephew who was not able to stay in their home. After looking at a variety of previous surveys, I developed my own survey to deliver to kinship caregivers in Richland County to identify gaps in services in order to help develop new or improved services in the future. I have also had the opportunity to attend both community and state-wide meetings such as the Ohio Grandparent Kinship Coalition.
Alexandra Higgins and her internship supervisor
from Richland County Children Services

I couldn’t imagine a better placement for myself and I am so happy that I got the opportunity to do my internship here!
How has Ashland University's Social Work program prepared you for your internship?
First and foremost, AU’s Social Work program prepared me for my internship with professors who care. I don’t know what I would have done without such great mentors that have helped me over the past four years.

The program has also really brought me out of my shell. It has helped me to learn how to engage others and brought out interpersonal skills that I didn’t know I had. Of course, the program has also helped me in terms of classes and giving me a firm knowledge base that I am positive will help me in my career after graduation.

What has been most enjoyable or valuable about your internship experience so far?

The most enjoyable AND valuable experience of my internship so far is the opportunity to meet so many new people. The people I have worked with at the agency have really opened up to me and made me feel so comfortable in a place that I was initially nervous about interning. Not only am I appreciative of my colleagues, but I am also appreciative of the clients that I have worked with through the agency. I have learned even more from engaging with them and the children that I have met have really inspired me to make a career out of child welfare.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Maureen Centa, Intern at Caring for Kids

What are your job duties at your internship?  What kinds of activities have you been involved in at your agency?
The agency I am interning for is an adoption and foster care agency. In my role, I have worked in all programs the agency offers.
In the private infant adoption program, I have transported birth mothers to appointments and have taken them out to lunch. I have been a witness for the signing of permanent surrenders, in which birth parents relinquish all rights to their baby. I have also shadowed adoption counselors while they have worked with a potential birth mother in creating their birth plans.
In the foster care program, I created and facilitated a two hour training for foster parents on creating a network of support partners. I have completed court packets of required documentation that have to be submitted to a court prior to an adoption finalization. Once a month, I have worked with foster children while their foster parents received ongoing training.
Maureen Centa, intern at Caring for Kids, with her supervisor
Wendy’s Wonderful Kids is another program at Caring for Kids. In this program, I spoke on a panel about why it is important for children to have life books. I attended many trainings on how to find families for the longest-waiting, hardest to place children. I learned the child focus recruitment model. I work on mined child files, which means looking through the child’s entire file looking for names of individuals who could be an adoptive resource for the child or a permanency partner for the child. I prepared a child’s file for presentation to an adoptive mother—this is when we make copies of all medical, educational, mental health, and life history documents to give to the adoptive family.
With the Public Search program, I attended a match staffing, where the county’s children services agency pick an adoptive family for a child or sibling group. Caring for Kids represents a family wanting to adopt the child or sibling group and presents why they would be a good family for the child/sibling group. In this program, I was also taught how to search for children across the country that are available for adoption in hopes of matching them with one of our waiting programs.
In the licensing portion of the agency, I became a certified home study assessor. I assisted in training families wishing to adopt or foster. I shadowed and assisted home studies on families wishing to adopt and completed safety audits on homes that wished to adopt or foster. I audited files on foster and adoptive homes to make sure their files were complete and done correctly.
A couple other projects I worked on were updating the agency state policy book and online database to be sure we had the most up to date policies. I reviewed an educational DVD set to see how useful the DVDs would be for foster parents and I created a new partnership between Caring for Kids and College Now Greater Cleveland in order to help the agency’s clients reach their higher education goals. I arranged for College Now to speak at a staff meeting regarding their services and I created a resource binder with helpful fliers and information from College Now.  
How has Ashland University's Social Work program prepared you for your internship?
Ashland University helped prepare me by exposing me to social work experiences early on in my education. Through shadowing experiences my sophomore year and working with a nursing home client my junior year, I felt like I gained so much real life experience that prepared me to work with clients in my internship.
What has been most enjoyable or valuable about your internship experience so far?

My most enjoyable experience in my internship has been assisting the training of 34 people wanting to adopt and foster. I enjoyed interacting with the families and answering their many questions.