Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Meet Tiffany Moody - Aspiranet Foster Care Social Worker, Ventura

"A social worker’s role is just one of many that contribute to change and development within our communities. People must gain more insight and understanding of what it takes for social change to occur. We must work together. It takes a village."

What motivates you to do this work?
Children. They are immensely resilient and I continue to be amazed at their abilities to grow, develop, love and be loved, despite their history or circumstances.

What are some of your guiding principles?
I believe it is important to always be honest and never make promises that cannot be kept, especially to children. I believe that people should not be judged and that everyone deserves respect. I believe that it is important to maintain integrity in every situation. I believe that everyone has the potential to change, grow, and heal.

What led you to choose this career path?
My love for children and the passion to be a part of a greater effort to improve the lives of children, families, and the community I live in.

In what ways do you feel you’re making a difference in the lives of children?
I would hope that by establishing relationships with children, being consistently present in their lives, and following through with the commitments I’ve made, I’ve shown them compassion and given them hope, even if in the smallest sense.

What sort of challenges do you face in your work as a social worker, and how do you rise above/meet those challenges?
The biggest challenge I have found is that of having to support a case plan recommendation that I do not feel is in the best interest of a child. Getting to know our children and understanding their specific needs, it becomes difficult when they are reunified too quickly or permanency is not pursued because a child may be older and not considered ‘adoptable.’ I believe that establishing good working relationships with other service providers and persistent advocacy has allowed me to rise above this challenge. People will eventually listen.

Another challenge I face is separating work from my personal life. As a social worker, it is sometimes hard not to become emotionally invested and bring the work home. With particularly difficult cases, I have to remind myself that I have put forth my best effort. Having good boundaries is important. Self-care and spending time with my family allows me to clear my head and recharge so that I can return to work and give 100%.

What do you find to be rewarding about your work generally? Specifically in working for Aspiranet?
The staff, the families, the kids. My Aspiranet family is my other family. Despite being a large office, we are a close-knit team, and I continue to be amazed by the skill level and expertise of my coworkers. Working with amazing foster families is also rewarding. These families love their foster children unconditionally, provide excellent care, and are not afraid to speak up and advocate on their own behalves. I rest assured knowing that my foster families are using good judgment, instinct, and their years of parenting experience each day to care for children in foster care. The children on my caseload never cease to amaze me. I love the hugs, the giggles, the smiles on their faces and being a part of their lives, even if for a short time.

In what ways do you think social workers inspire community action? And you specifically in your own work?
I would like to think that as social workers, we have the capacity to instill hope in others. Through community involvement, we can educate and inspire others.

What “makes it all worth it” at the end of the day? Can you provide a specific story or situation which was particularly rewarding/memorable?
What makes it all worth it for me is jumping on a trampoline with a child, watching a baby take his first step, or receiving a picture from a teen’s high school prom. Watching children enjoy the simple pleasures of childhood is precious. Adoption finalization hearings are always rewarding for me. It signifies the end of a (usually) long journey and the birth of a new one.

A recent high school graduation I attended will remain in my mind and heart forever. The graduating teen entered an Aspiranet home more than 25 school credits deficient as a sophomore. In two years time, he attended high school and community college and successfully graduated with his class and with one college semester completed. I will never forget the accomplished expression on his face as he walked onto the field at the commencement of the graduation ceremony. He always had the potential; he just needed the right foster family to nourish it. As an adult, this emancipated foster youth remains in the foster home, as they continue to help him prepare for independence.

In what ways do you think social workers have helped shape the quality of American life?
I think social workers in general work to promote growth and development within all populations. By advocating, educating, and providing resources and services, social workers help individuals in need gain the tools necessary in order to achieve fulfillment in their lives. I believe foster care social workers strive to reinvent the concept of family.

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