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June 24, 2024 | Leave a Comment

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For my internship, I was able to find an organization that aligned perfectly with what I wanted for my future. With that being said, I have completed 120 total hours at StepStone Family and Youth Services. My major is Sociology with a double minor in Psychology and Criminal Justice. I have a concentration in family studies. After graduating from Longwood University, I plan to work as a case manager for foster care and eventually become a forensic interviewer. This organization is a great way for me to get my foot in the door. Many of the people I work with come from all different backgrounds with different work experiences. The knowledge I receive from their experiences is something I will always remember. StepStone has two programs: independent living program and foster care program. I am working in the Harriosnburg, Va and Richmond, Va offices to collect the most amount of experiences possible with my short amount of time here. 
In the independent living program this is for 18-21 year olds who have aged out of foster care but are still in need of guidance. In this program there is a unique approach to teaching independent living skills including traditional classroom instruction and hands-on, skill-based training such as; budgeting, social skills, cooking, job applications, etc. The client in the independent living program must be enrolled in a high school or equivalency program or enrolled in college or a post-secondary education vocational program or participating in a program actively designed to promote or remove barriers to employment or working at least 80 hours a month or medically incapable if engaging in these activities There are strict requirement when it comes to what qualifies the youth to be able to be in the program. The client is provided with an apartment, grocery shopping budget, and required to have a steady job with at least 20 hours a week. Clients are advised to pursue their GED, drivers license, and independence before being released on their own or with family at 21 years of age. In the foster care program, things are much different. This program is for newborns to 18 years of age. Before a child can be placed into a home a background check is conducted on foster families including pictures of their houses, certification, compliance, people, home file, family web, and general information about the foster parent/parents. Home visits, social history, annual report, service plan, biological family sheet, magellan, therapy/counseling sessions are all documented and every small detail is important. An updated picture is captured at every annual visit to keep up to date on how the child is growing and developing. The main goal is to return the child to their biological parents if the biological parents are fit for parenting, financially stable, pass alcohol and drug screenings,etc.
The main difference that I have noticed while interning with both programs is with the independent living due to their age it is difficult to enforce the rules while maintaining their goals. Most clients will stop taking their medications or cleaning themselves or areas due to the sense of freedom to make their own choices. I would say the hardest part of the independent living program is that since they are over the age of eighteen advice can only be given. To see someone struggle with past traumas, or diagnosis they need to be medicated for, or their ability to be able to excel in school but not want to do it for themselves can be frustrating. My supervisor kept using the quote, “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink”. This resonated with me because even though you have the possible solutions at hand for these clients they have the choice on what they want to do at the end of the day. . The hardest part of the foster care program was my first day at this facility. I was able to read through case files and read each individual child’s story and social history. This was not easy to read due to the amount of shocking things I had ever heard people do in movies or in the news. It is a different feeling when you are actually seeing a photograph of these children and reading what has happened to them in their short amount of time here on earth. The work here is tidenous and needs close attention to detail to ensure the success and safety of the children. 
I was able to get hands-on experience through StepStone in both programs. In the independent living program I was able to connect with clients by helping them organize, study, and do everyday tasks appropriate for their own success. During my time sitting in on the DSS 90-Day review I collected a lot of information about what could be beneficial or harmful to this client. I created a food inventory list to cut down on hoarding of products, looked into Casey Life Skills activities to promote studying and passing GED tests. The client was able to achieve some of their goals during my time in the office. In the foster care program, I was able to attend court cases and listen to hearings that did not always have the outcome most were hoping for.. I was also able to attend home visits and check-ins. This was a very interesting experience because the foster parent had five children they were looking over. This was different compared to a home that only has one or two children placed due to the mixing of personalities and ages of the children. These were both eye opening experiences because although looking at the case files and reading the children’s stories was great, meeting and seeing them in person was a very different experience. My roles during my time spent at StepStone vary but what does not change is how attention to minor details are important. I was able to look into the online system at different clients to learn more about their experiences, goals, and personalities. I learned many skills while interning but some important ones I would like to mention are: writing a home visit case report, writing a court hearing case report, developing activities to achieve clients goals, learning an online system with little guidance, and time management while traveling longer distances I needed to prepare in advance for my travels. I was able to create flyers to educate and spread awareness about the independent living program that is provided for those aging out of foster care. 
My time spent at StepStone Family and Youth Services taught me a lot about myself and the world around me. I am now able to understand fully the amount of time, dedication, and hardship that goes into this field of work. It takes a certain kind of individual to succeed and I believe through my experiences at StepStone I can confidently say I have what it takes for my future career. This can be a difficult field to work in so having the ability to separate work and home is essential. Many children within the system struggle emotionally, physically, and struggle with issues of trust. This can be a hardship within this field of work due to the nature of mental stability that is needed. I would highly recommend before entering this field that you obtain a supportive boss, co workers, and healthy environment to work in. Patience and understanding is key to succeeding.  I loved my internship because I was able to watch young adults and children set goals and reach to achieve them. Children were able to be reunited with their biological parents, some were able to be adopted by great and loving families. Young adults were able to make big decisions to prepare for life after the independent living program. It was an amazing experience to see them all grow and change over the almost two months. I learned that this job can be challenging but rewarding. It is important not to carry emotions home or let them reflect onto the clients because this could impact their life significantly. I now understand the importance of picking up every small detail to put into their case file because one sentence or one word could make a huge difference in someone’s life. Sitting in a classroom and learning about these things is amazing but being able to experience what you are interested in through real experience is very different. Throughout my time here, I learned that life can be difficult but someone else is struggling way more than I am. Again, this was eye opening and this internship was an amazing experience for me and made me excited for my future and all the possibilities to come after graduation.