2004 Jordan Institute
9, No. 3
What Child Welfare Workers Need to Know about Work First (TANF) Workers
Successful collaboration doesnt happen on its own. Rather, it develops over time as people build relationships and learn to trust and respect one another. Listening and learning play big roles in this process. As a contribution to this process in your county, here are some of the things we heard Work First workers say they wanted child welfare workers to know about them:
We respect you. Some of those working in economic services have attended child welfare training courses, and they have learned about your work in other ways. One economic services worker says, We have great empathy for you and know how tough your work is.
We deserve your respect. Work First workers want you to know that there are people in economic services who have advanced degrees and years of experience in human services. Work First workers are qualified professionals who take pride in themselves and what they do for families.
Economic services help keep children safe. A Work First worker puts it this way: I really believe that Work First services help stabilize families before economic stress can contribute to child abuse and neglect. It gives families a chance to protect their own kids so that child welfare doesnt have to become involved.
Economic services are voluntary. This means that a family can decline or drop out of one of our supportive programs at any time. The flip side of this is that . . .
Our relationships with clients can be very positive. Jennifer Abshire, a Work First supervisor from Jackson County DSS, says clients build such a strong relationship with Work First workers because, They literally spend hours in their office sharing information about their relationships, criminal history, drug use, their childhoods, and their current family situations, including parenting issues. Because they know so much about their clients, economic services workers can be tremendous resources for child welfare workers seeking to learn about a family.
We can support you by:
What We Want from You. To avoid confusion and delay and to ensure families get the maximum benefit of what the agency has to offer, we would like you to have a good working knowledge of economic services basics. For example, you should know about:
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