In our series, Behind the Desk, we’re catching up with some of the incredibly talented, dedicated, and caring individuals who help make everything our organization does possible. This month we’re featuring Kathy Clark, a Social Worker and Child Specific Recruiter who works out of our St. Paul office.
For the past four years, Kathy has brought her good-humor, big smile, and passion for children and families to her role with CH/LSS. Her supervisor Amy says, “Kathy brings so much joy and positivity to the FCA team! She truly believes in the importance of this work and goes above and beyond in providing support to the families and youth on her caseload! I absolutely love supervising Kathy and look forward to her smile each time we connect!”
Outside of work, Kathy enjoys spending time with her loving husband and 7-month-old son. They enjoy going on walks, watching Disney movies (Moana is a family favorite), and caring for their dogs, cats, lizards, snake, and fish! Get to know more about Kathy’s work and life below:
Tell us about your role with CH/LSS and some of your day-to-day responsibilities:
I am an Adoption Social Worker and Child Specific Recruiter. In my role as an Adoption Social Worker, some of my primary responsibilities are to help educate families on the adoption process, talk to them about the needs of kids in foster care, assess them, and write up my assessment as part of their home study. I love supporting families during this part of their journey, because it is exciting, intimidating, nerve-wracking, and always life-changing!
My role as a Child Specific Recruiter is a little different. In this role, I like to say I work for the kiddo. I am their advocate—the person who answers their questions and has conversations with them about what adoption means and who they want to adopt them. Being a Child Specific Recruiter is almost like a mentoring role in some cases, and a lot of us really fall in love with the kids we work with. I am so proud to make a dent in the system and help kids find their adoptive families! It’s a great day when I get to play a role in getting kids out of the foster care system.
How has COVID-19 impacted the work that you’re doing right now? Do you have any advice for people looking to move forward in the foster care process right now?
Of course, COVID-19 has impacted our work. Things are moving right along though, and we are trying to keep things as normal as possible. I have been able to complete my monthly visits to homes via video calls, and am still seeing the kids and checking-in with the parents. We are still moving families through the home study process, getting paperwork and trainings done—just with a little help of technology.
If you are in the process, don’t be too worried about timelines, we don’t know when this difficult season will pass, but we are here to support you! Something we always suggest to families waiting in the process is to learn, learn, learn. We offer so many wonderful, free, pre-recorded webinars on our website, I recommend them all. A great place to start is 7 Foster Care Myths, Debunked because that’s one I recorded! This is a great time to read and watch videos—why not make them educational?
“I am so proud to make a dent in the system and help kids find their adoptive families! It’s a great day when I get to play a role in getting kids out of the foster care system.” —Kathy Clark
How are the kids you are working with doing? Is there anything the community can do to help kids currently waiting during this time of uncertainty?
The kids are alright. They are struggling, much like all of us are right now. Children with traumatic histories and special needs really thrive when they are in a controlled environment with structure and a good routine, and during this time, that’s just not always possible. We are still offering support groups (now, virtually), schools are doing their best to offer distance learning, counselors are meeting virtually with clients, and there are still many resources to support families right now, even with social distancing in place. Self-care is needed right now, so if you are not yet licensed, there are lots of other ways for you to help support foster families and give foster parents some R&R, like bringing over meals, ordering someone a pizza, helping with yard work, calling them to check-in, or sending a card in the mail.
Tell us about your family and what keeps you busy outside of work:
I have been married to my wonderful, hardworking husband for 4 years, and we have a super cute 7-month-old son who is the light of our lives! We have 2 dogs, a cat, a snake, 2 lizards, and 2 fish tanks at home. My son is already an animal person himself and loves to “pet” the dogs and cat and watch the fish swim around in the fish tanks. We love going out for dinner and can’t wait for our favorite restaurants to be open again! We like spending time outdoors, going on walks, visiting national parks, taking road-trips, visiting family and watching Disney movies—my favorite is Moana.
What’s your go-to comfort meal these days?
One of my favorite comfort meals is easy to make! I don’t have the real name for it, but I guess I just refer to it as “sausage and cabbage.” I sauté and cut up 1/2 of a green cabbage, slice up a kielbasa sausage, add garlic, butter and a few cups of egg noodles. It feeds us all and makes great leftovers too!
Do you have a favorite quote that gives you peace or provides you with wisdom?
I think this one from Fred Rogers is especially relevant now, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” That always warmed my heart and really re-framed a situation much like this crisis we are faced with now. There’s a lot of worry, fear, and sadness right now, but wow, there are also a lot of good things happening and a lot of good people helping them get done. I am so grateful for the helpers in the world right now.
What always makes you smile?
My son is the happiest little man I know. I call him my “sonshine”. He’s got so much joy and his smile and laugh are just so infectious. Even if I am feeling really crumby, that little tyke can always bring a smile to my face.