Friday, March 27, 2015

Jereese Wilson, Intern at Richland Newhope

Jereese Wilson is an intern at Richland Newhope – Richland County Board of Developmental Disabilities. This organization is dedicated to helping people with developmental disabilities to live, work, and participate in the community. Richland Newhope works with people and their families to enrich the lives of the developmentally disabled.

Tell us a little bit about your internship placement.
This semester I have had the unique experience of being able to work in three areas of the same agency. I am placed in the Service and Support Administration (SSA), Help Me Grow (HMG) at the Early Childhood Center, and also at two of the Richland Newhope Industry workshops on 4th Street and on Longview Ave. Although these are only a few areas under the umbrella of the County Board, in my short time working in these various parts of the agency, it is clear that they really cater toward the needs of the individual person. They serve to support both children and adults through various programs, support services and funding sources.

What are your job duties at your internship?  What sorts of activities have you been involved in?
Since I have been involved in so many different parts of the agency, I have had the opportunity to have a variety of experiences. In the SSA building, I work alongside the Individual Consultants to help the individual create plans centered on their specific needs. I have had the opportunity to build a case load, go on home visits, plan meetings, and to research and provide services. Another activity that I am involved in in the SSA building is the Major Unusual Incidences (MUI) department. In this department I work with the Investigative agents to help investigate and track incidents involving Richland county residents who receive our services. For my macro project, I was able to work on the 2014 Major Unusual Incident Annual Review. It was essentially a 20 page report that compiled all of the data from last year. As a result of my work, I was able to help present some of the information with my supervisor. Although I was a bit nervous about sitting in a room full of supervisors and department heads, it was a great experience and I was so thankful to be a part of it.

In the HMG department I had the opportunity to work with the service coordinators. I was able to help interview potential parents of the program, with the help of my supervisors, using assessment forms and to provide input to the early intervention team. After eligibility was determined based on the initial assessment, I was able to follow the children as they progressed and provide additional information to the family that may be helpful to them. My supervisors made me feel comfortable with the assessment forms and how the system was organized. I was even able to complete some of the process on my own.

At the workshop, I was able to help individuals strive toward the goal of community employment. Richland Newhope is currently providing job training skills, new community employment opportunities, and job readiness programs to help individuals become more involved in the community. The adult services department has so much to offer individuals. Between helping with the community employment activities and learning more about the job readiness programs, I had the opportunities to get to know more about the individuals and the hard work they do in the workshop every day.

How has Ashland University’s Social Work Program prepared you for your internship?
The Social Work program at Ashland University has done an amazing job preparing me for my internship. In my undergraduate years, prior to my internship experience, I did not realize how much of each class that I would actually need to utilize. There really is a method and a clear thought behind every pre-requisite class that is required before entering into this program (even statistics!) and they were well worth it. I’m so thankful for the education I received from this program and for every professor who took the time to prepare me not only for my internship, but for my future in the social work profession.

What have you enjoyed most about your internship so far?
Honestly it is hard to pinpoint one specific thing that I have enjoyed so far because the whole experience has been wonderful. I love all of the information that I am gaining through this experience. I also love the fact that I am in an agency that is willing to accept some of my thoughts and ideas. Getting to work with the individuals, go to trainings with the staff, and learning the different programs and services offered to people in Richland County are things that can help me throughout my career. I am thankful for having the experience.

For more information about Richland Newhope, please visit their website.
For more information about Ashland University’s Social Work Department, please visit their website.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Chelsea LaPorte, Intern at Wayne County Children Services

Chelsea LaPorte is an intern at Wayne County Children Services (WCCS).

Tell us a little bit about your internship placement.

Wayne County Children Services’ mission is to protect abused, neglected, or dependent children and to strengthen families. The three units at WCCS are intake, ongoing, and adoption/kinship. All three units play an important role in accomplishing the agencies mission. I have been working closely with the intake unit, but I have also worked with the other units as well. Intake caseworkers are the caseworkers that get a case when it is first opened. The caseworkers are responsible for making attempts to talk to the family and to address the concerns that were reported to the agency. If families are uncooperative or it is evident that a child is unsafe then there are cases where the child is removed from the family. There will be a case plan/safety plan that is initiated with the family even if a child is not removed. The caseworkers refer clients to community services that will help them either get their child back or to improve themselves.

What are your job duties at your internship?  What sorts of activities have you been involved in? 
Up to this point in my internship, I have been working in the intake unit. Some of my duties include typing case notes into the computer for caseworkers and making phone calls to providers to get releases or any updated information regarding clients. I have had the chance to shadow all of the intake workers by going on home visits and to court with them. I have also sat in on family team meetings and semiannual review meetings with families. I strongly feel that going on visits with a caseworker it is beneficial for me because if I do mess up or forget what to ask a client, they are there to help. Every day is a learning experience for me, and I am thankful to have a supervisor that is willing to let me go out into the field with other caseworkers.

How has Ashland University’s Social Work Program prepared you for your internship? 
Ashland University’s Social Work Program has prepared me for my internship in several ways. The material that is discussed in all of the social work classes is relevant to my internship in some way. I find that the core competencies that are taught in the social work program are essential to my internship. In my internship it is important to know how to communicate effectively with clients and to also use empathy when appropriate, and the social work program prepared me for this. I find myself using skills that I learned from our professors in many situations in my internship. As a student in the Social Work Program it is hard to visualize yourself using the skills you learn in classes, but when you finally get to utilize those skills in practice, they will come to you naturally because of the preparation of Ashland University’s Social Work Program.

What have you enjoyed most about your internship so far?
What I have enjoyed most about my internship at WCCS so far is all of the different cases and experiences that I have been exposed to.  My day at the agency is never the same and there is never a dull moment. I look forward to coming in every day to learn and to ask questions to the caseworkers and my supervisor. My supervisor and the caseworkers have all been open and have taken time to explain certain terms and processes to me, which allows me to learn something new every day.

For more information about Wayne County Children Services, please visit their website.
For more information about Ashland University’s Social Work Program, please visit their website.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

March is Social Work Month!

Social Work Month provides a special opportunity for professional organizations, employers and the general public to recognize and celebrate the contributions of social work professionals.

From the National Association of Social Workers Website:

2015 marks a special year for the social work community.

The nation will commemorate National Social Work Month in March and the National Association of Social Workers will celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2015.

NASW’s goal during Social Work Month and throughout 2015 will be to educate the public about how social workers and the association have brought about major positive social changes, improved the lives of individuals and families, and will continue to do so in the future.

For information about activities planned and opportunities offered by the NASW Ohio Chapter, visit their website.

Happy Social Work Month!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Kaitlyn McCreary, Intern at Richland County Juvenile Court

Kaitlyn McCreary is an intern at Richland County Juvenile Court. This court system is aimed at executing adjudication hearings for juveniles within Richland County.

Tell us a little bit about your internship placement.
I work as a Diversion Officer and Community-Control Officer, which is a type of probation officer, and I have both types of clients on my caseload. The Diversion Program is designed for youth who have minimal to no previous involvement in the juvenile justice system and provides youth a second chance at having a clean record. If a youth completes Diversion successfully and does not commit another offense within a year and a half of being terminated, their file becomes sealed and their record is kept clean. Community-Control works in a similar way; the offense does go on your record, but this is still designed for giving youth a second chance. Both types are minimal supervision, and I am required to enforce court orders and make recommendations at court hearings when I feel they can be terminated or if they need to have more intense supervision to be placed in a higher level of probation. I get to work with juveniles and their families in all capacities. It is a great mix of criminal justice and social work. It can almost be viewed as mini-counseling sessions when I conduct office visits. I make sure to convey to my clients that I am here to help them be successful while in this program and that I care about their well-being. I work closely with parents and children and try my best to help better that relationship.

What are your job duties at your internship?  What sorts of activities have you been involved in?
It’s hard to name all of my duties and explain them all, but my main part has been having my own caseload of about 25-30 juveniles. They are placed on either Diversion or Community-Control. I am responsible for all of my youth and meet with them at least once a month, connecting them with resources that will help them complete probation successfully. I attend court hearings for a variety of cases, including my clients. Also, I file charges for the Intake Department, which means I read the police reports, make sure the alleged charge is applicable to the situation, and that the Ohio Revised Code number matches the charge and is written correctly on the summons. I also administer drug and alcohol assessments, and I conduct drug tests and office visits for my clients. I am the lead presenter for the Truancy Awareness Program the court organizes every other week.

I will become trained to administer OYAS Assessments to juveniles (Ohio Youth Assessment System – March 10-11 is my training). This allows me to interview all of my clients to assess their level of risk to better help place them in the correct level of probation based on the amount of supervision needed.
How has Ashland University’s Social Work Program prepared you for your internship?

The program has prepared me with the specific information and scenarios I would be dealing with in the field. The curriculum is exactly what I needed to learn to help me succeed in my internship. It has allowed me to think critically and apply my knowledge in my internship when working with clients. I have been able to see when a specific class has impacted my success while working in my internship. I am very thankful for my education at Ashland University and can see every day how it paid off to choose getting my education from this social work program. I feel very prepared for grad school, as well as becoming a professional social worker in any field I choose to pursue.

What have you enjoyed most about your internship so far?
I have simply enjoyed learning so many things so far. There is always more to learn, and I feel more prepared and more confident with every step. I have also enjoyed getting to meet new people and being part of a professional group. I have been blessed with the greatest supervisors and it truly has enhanced my experience. I know it will be hard to leave them once the semester is over, but I am anxious to see what my future brings.

For more information about the Richland County Court, please visit their website.
For more information about Ashland University’s Social Work Program, please visit their website.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Jennifer Williams, Intern at Catalyst Life Services

Jennifer Williams is an intern at Catalyst Life Services. This private non-profit company focuses on providing outpatient services to adults and children in the area. They strive to rehabilitate, help with crisis intervention, have transitional and residential programming, have communication services, and provide vocational rehabilitation and training.

Tell us a little bit about your internship placement.

Catalyst is a huge organization that contains a lot of departments. There's the Rehab Center, the Adult Unit, the Children's Unit, New Beginnings (a facility for individuals with substance abuse problems), and more. The building I am in primarily is known as the Center, which houses the Adult Crisis Stabilization Unit, our alcohol and drug program, and all of our adult mental health services. 

What are your job duties at your internship?  What sorts of activities have you been involved in? 
With an agency as large as Catalyst, I have had the opportunity to do a ton of different things. I spent a lot of my time with the SAMI team, which stands for Substance Abuse and Mental Illness. It is a dual diagnosis group, which means that all of the clients that the team works with have co-occurring substance abuse and mental health conditions. I have also worked quite a bit with our alcohol and drug team and the individuals back on the Crisis Unit. During this placement I have had the opportunity to sit in on therapy sessions with a couple different therapists, work on mental health assessments, and observe as well as lead group activities for both mental health and alcohol and drug groups. I have also been able to visit MedCentral to do pre-screen assessments and step down requests from the psychiatric floor, go to felony Drug Court, and even visit the state hospital. I also have the opportunity every week to sit in on treatment team meetings with our clients in Mental Health Court.

How has Ashland University’s Social Work Program prepared you for your internship?
I had no idea that I would feel so prepared for my internship placement. My education provided an amazing foundation for all the things I am doing and observing in the agency on a day to day basis. Everything I learned in classes over the years has truly been put into action. I feel like, as college students, there is always the fear that we won't succeed after we graduate, and having the opportunity to complete this practicum has definitely reassured me that I made a great choice when I picked social work.

What have you enjoyed most about your internship so far?
I love getting to know our client base. Whether it's in therapy, treatment team, or group, I love the interaction of building up rapport with clients and even the people I work with. They are all really supportive of each other and you can tell they really care about the clients and about each other.

For more information about Catalyst Life Services, please visit their website.
For more information about Ashland University’s Social Work Program, please visit their website.