In our Staff Spotlight Series, we catch up with the talented, dedicated, and compassionate individuals who help make everything our organization does possible. This month we’re featuring Sam Rex, Foster Care Program Supervisor. Sam has always had a passion for working with children and families and enjoys building relationships with families through their foster care and adoption process. “Sam is energetic, personable, and passionate about serving kids,” says her supervisor, Stephanie Coleman. “She’s flexible and eager to help the team in any way she can, always saying yes to things with a smile on her face! Our team is lucky to have her enthusiastic and kind leadership.” Learn more about Sam’s work and life below.
When did you join CH/LSS, what is your current role, and what are some of your primary responsibilities?
I have worked at CH/LSS for two and a half years. I started in December 2020 as a Foster Care and Adoption family worker, Domestic Adoption family worker, and Pregnancy Counselor. I am the Foster Care Program Supervisor. I oversee the foster care program, social and medical histories, our community closet, and in-kind donation efforts.
What originally drew you to the field of foster care and adoption?
I have always had a passion for working with children and families. Personal experiences are what originally drew me to child welfare. While completing my undergraduate in college, I had an internship at a foster care agency. I had an amazing mentor who gave me hands-on experience. I knew it was something I could envision myself doing. I have been working in the field of foster care and adoption pretty much ever since. I think this work is so important!
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of this job for me is building relationships with families through their foster care and adoption process. I enjoy getting to walk alongside families through the process, see them overcome tough situations, and connect and build secure relationships with youth and their families. The foster care system is multi-faceted, and while there is a lot of loss, there are a lot of rewarding moments as well.
May is National Foster Care Month! Based on your experience working in the field of foster care and adoption, what is something everyone should know about foster care and/or adoption that they might not?
Everyone should know that it is okay to ask for help, and it is okay to not know the answer. Work on building up your support system while you are waiting for placement. Once you have placement, utilize your support system, join a support group, ask someone to run errands for you, call your social worker when you need additional resources, and find a family that you can trade off providing respite for. It really does take a village and it is important to lean on others when you need it.
What advice would you give to families thinking of beginning their foster care journey?
Start with free information meetings, followed by orientation classes, and then our multi-day trainings. You can also consider providing respite as a way to dip your toes in and get experience providing care for youth. Another piece of advice I have is to work through your own trauma before you come through the program. Sometimes providing care can bring up feelings and trigger emotions that you have not felt or thought about for a long time. One of my colleagues, Kelly Tronstad, once said, “You need to fill up your own gas tank first because you can’t help others if you are running on empty.” It is so true!
What are three qualities that make a great foster parent?
- Perseverance. It is so important to keep going when times get tough. There will be tough times while providing care, emotions will get heightened, and routines will get off track, but the important thing is to remain a stable provider that will continue to be there for the youth when the going gets tough, try different strategies, and do not give up quickly.
- Empathy and compassion. A foster parent must be able to put oneself in the shoes of the youth and family, even though they may not have experienced those same challenges, and be understanding, show interest, be supportive, and always speak highly of all.
- Flexibility. Being able to roll with the changes that sometimes happen with coordinating meetings and appointments, a changing routine, or an unexpected call.
Switching gears to your life outside of work – what does an ideal weekend look like for you?
An ideal weekend for me would be soaking up time outside (hopefully it is warm and sunny 😊), going for a bike ride or visiting the lake, and spending time with my partner, Jimmy, and friends. I also enjoy exploring new restaurants around the cities! I moved to Minnesota a little over three years ago. I still feel new-ish to the area, so I like to spend the weekends exploring!
If you could travel anywhere in the world in the next year, where would you go and what would you do?
I would love to go on a safari in South Africa! A big passion of mine is animals. Many people already know this, but I drove safari trucks at Disney World in college. It is a dream of mine to go on a real safari one day and see lots of magnificent animals in their natural habitat!
What is the last book, movie, or TV series you loved?
I am a big reader and also watch too much TV. I am currently making my way through Kristin Hannah’s books. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah was an amazing book. For a TV show recommendation, we recently finished Severance on Apple TV. I loved it! Such a good season finale. Please discuss it with me once you watch it!
What is something that always brings a smile to your face?
We have three kitties that always bring a smile to my face! Their names are Clyde, Clementine, and Denver. They can often be spotted in my background while working from home. 😊