Foster Care Awareness: Interview With Case Worker

I have recently interviewed Angelica Gallegos, who is a former Case Worker. In this interview, she talks about her personal experiences of working as a Case Worker, foster care, being supportive of kids in foster care, and more. 

Can you tell me what foster care is?

Foster care is a program that was created for children who were temporarily removed from their biological parents due to abuse or neglect. This program allows people to get a license to Foster children who are in the system. The foster parent must provide the children’s basic needs while the child is in care. But this is only temporary until the child is returned home or the parent’s rights have been terminated.

Approximately how many kids in foster care are there in our area?

There are currently more than 16,000 children in the care of Child Protective Services in the State of Texas and nearly 420,000 children in the U.S.

Approximately how many foster homes are there in our area?

Not enough. We still have children sleeping in offices and homes and some moving outside the region because there aren’t enough homes. 

What does being a caseworker mean?

There are several types of caseworkers.  There are caseworkers called CVS workers who are legally responsible for children who were legally removed from their parents. They provide services and resources to the parents and to the children in care while ensuring that all of the child’s basic needs are being met (including medical and safety). The parents are given up to 12 months to complete the required services and prove to the courts that they can provide a safe home. During this time the children are placed in foster care or in a kinship placement with family/friends. There are FBSS caseworkers for children who were not removed but the parents needed resources and services to provide a safe home environment for their children. There is normally a safety plan in place. CPS will remain involved during this time. 

What did you enjoy about being a caseworker?

The thing I enjoyed most was working with the kids and being that support for them during traumatic times. Most of the time they just wanted someone to love them and never give up on them. My favorite moments were during adoption day when they would finalize their forever home with a loving family. I also but very rarely had family reunification’s when I knew that the parent had truly done the work and could provide a safe and loving home. 

What were some challenges about being a caseworker?

Having a caseload so high that you had to work 60-70 hours per week. Some weeks up to 80 hours a week. We would have to take work home and be called for emergencies while we were off with our family or during Holidays. One of my other biggest challenge was the politics involved. So many parties involved in making decisions for the kids such as parents attorneys, CASA, attorney ad litems, CPS, and the judges. Sometimes judges made decisions that weren’t always in the child’s best interest. Only for the kids and additional children(when parents had more kids) to be removed again a few months later because the parents were still abusing and neglecting them. So many times I would see judges and attorneys that were friends and would discuss cases that they should have not without all involved. It was a conflict of interest. This was so hard to deal with. 

What do you think a 13-year-old should know about kids in foster care who are friends, peers, neighbors, etc.?

Many of them will be either so isolated from all of the trauma or acting out so much. They just want the pain to go away. They want to feel loved and supported. So be supportive and be there for your friend in foster care. If you see them struggling, try to empower them. If you see them doing something that is hurting them, find help. 

What would be your advice on how to both be friends and a support system to a kid in foster care but also not be too pushy?

Just be there and listen. Try to be a good friend and support them. Sometimes they just want someone there and someone to listen. If you see someone picking on them for being in foster care, tell an adult…preferably a social worker at school or a teacher that can stop it.

Is there anything else you feel is important to know, or you would like to share with our readers?

There are so many dynamics to the system. If a child is removed CPS gets blamed for removing them. If a child is left with the parents after a report gets called in CPS gets the heat. There are so many policies we have to follow. We have to get approval from our supervisors and then a court order from the judges. Yet CPS gets blamed. Often it’s others making the decisions yet the caseworkers get the heat. The problem with our system goes way higher up…to our judges to the higher into the lawmakers. Second, workers have too high of a caseload to keep every child safe. A worker shouldn’t have a caseload of 60-90. That’s not manageable and some things are bound to slip. That’s how great workers get burned out and leave. Another thing is there aren’t enough good foster homes to place children in. Many times the kids have to sleep in offices or hotel rooms until a placement is found. Some sibling groups have to be separated. Which is another trauma for them to deal with. Another thing for foster parents to understand, these kids had their whole life ripped apart. Even when a parent has abused and neglected them, they still love their parents and want them to love them back. They have been traumatized! So it is normal for them to act out or shut down. Even run away. It’s fight or flight for them. Foster parents need to be more thoroughly trained to have children in their home who have been traumatized. They also need to stop giving the notice to return when a child acts out. This happens way too often. 

I hope this interview gave you further insight into foster care, as well as bring awareness to Case Workers. The next article of this series will be about how you can get involved in foster care. Whether you are older or younger, you can help and be a support. Thank you for reading this interview, and I hope you have a great rest of your day!

If you would like to read the last post of this series click here: