We are truly blessed with an amazing staff at Chambliss Center for Children. One special staff member is Melissa Hand. She has a Masters in Social Work and serves as a Case Manager in our Residential Program. We chatted with her recently to learn more about her personal story and why she has chosen to work with foster families.
Why did you choose to become a Social Worker? It has always been my desire to be in a “helping” profession, and I’ve always known I wanted to work with children in some capacity. My best friend actually encouraged me to pursue social work when I was struggling to decide which direction to go in, because she knows my history as well as my strengths.
Why did you choose to work with foster families? What is your personal connection? I chose to work with foster children because of my own history of adoption. I was not in foster care, but my birth mother surrendered her parental rights so that I could have a better life. She struggled with substance abuse among other issues. This caused me to want to help other families either overcome the barriers to raising their children, or to help their children thrive in a foster/adoptive home when necessary. My goal is always to empower the birth family first, but the ultimate goal is the safety and well-being of the children to ensure their future can have limitless potential.
What are your favorite parts of your job? My favorite part of the job is when I see children or their parents grow from hopelessness into hopefulness and they realize that having a future that is different from their past is attainable. I always want to be someone who empowers them. Of course, I love the adoptions as well! I do not take lightly what families and children have to go through before adoption becomes the best choice, but so far in my experience, these are always happy moments for the children because it is what they want as well.
What are your least favorite parts of your job? The least favorite part of my job is paperwork! On a more serious note, the least favorite part is discovering what these families and children have faced prior to needing our help. It’s sad to think that I only have a job because terrible things happen to children and someone HAS to step in.
Why do you choose to work for Chambliss Center for Children? I work for Chambliss because I believe in our mission and the strengths-based, therapeutic model we work with. I also believe we have the BEST foster parents around!
For anyone considering fostering, what advice would you give them? I think anyone interested in fostering should call Chambliss and ask questions, share your fears and hesitations and get real answers. I would encourage them to start our foster classes because they are free and they can withdraw at any point they realize that fostering is not for them. I believe that when they see how the process works, learn the things these children face, learn the potential impact they could make in children’s lives, and the great amount of support that Chambliss staff offers them, it will become easier to determine if this is the right timing for them to take the leap. Finally, I always tell those who worry about the difficulty of fostering and “giving kids back”… when you have been part of that family’s success and witness their growth, you have no idea how happy you’ll be to see children reunite with their family. It’s worth it!
We have many other great staff members in our Residential Program. These men and women work every day to make children's lives better. If you want more information on fostering, please contact us at 423-693-2580 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.