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Interview with a foster care case worker

At Rayola, we strive to maintain great relationships with Foster Care Case Workers. These relationships are essential for identifying the needs of the foster children we serve. Caseworkers are incredibly selfless, dedicated, and show unlimited compassion to the children they work with. This month, we had the pleasure of talking to a wonderful case worker, Stephanie Cleeves, about her experience working in the foster care system.

Cleeve's path to social work

Stephanie knew that she always wanted to work with children, but wasn't sure what path to take to get there. She first learned about social work when she took a sociology class in college. From that moment, she knew that was exactly what she wanted to do. She says that working with the families "are my favorite", and working with the kids keeps her going. She finds great satisfaction in "helping, guiding, teaching...and making decisions for the children that bring peace and joy."

Stephanie Cleeves

She also speaks about how foster care changed her. She says, "My eyes have been opened to needs I never knew existed. I took for granted my life without even knowing...I mean I grew up with a bed and a dresser!" However, these children in foster care often don't have such basic necessities and it can be a heartbreaking situation. Cleeves also emphasizes that "people aren't inherently bad, and they don't dislike their children. They are just broken and need a pick up in some way." Cleeve talks about how most cases she works on are due to addictions of some form. She says that intense abusive situations are actually quite rare. She speaks on her own experience as a mother and says, "I had kids very young, and had an amazing support system. These families don't have that support so we are that support system."

How can I support the foster care system?

Cleeves also speaks about the needs of the foster care system right now and wishes that more people knew how badly we need homes. She says that many people don't realize children going into foster care is frequent where they live. However, we still need a safe and loving place to place those children. The best way to support the foster care system is to first, open your home to welcome a foster care child, but you can also serve in other ways. She says that you are welcome to take out a foster care child for an outing on the weekend, donate supplies, donate time to foster care events, hang a flier in your business, and even donate prayers.

Here at Rayola, we are proud to partner with our wonderful case workers and support the foster care system by donating handmade quilts, supplies, and other gifts to these children. We ask for those in the surrounding Michigan communities to carefully consider ways they can get involved in this great work to love children who have been removed from their birth homes. We believe that many hands make light of great work, and any small act makes a difference in the lives of children.

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