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Social Work Month-Interview with a Social Worker

March is National Social Work Month. According to the National Association of Social Workers, this month, “is an opportunity for social workers across the country and their allies to turn the spotlight on the profession and highlight the important contributions they make to society.” For this reason we thought it would be the prefect time to spotlight one of the amazing social workers we have on staff here at UMCH Family Services. Lauren Kaminski, MSW, LSW is a Licensed Social Worker in our Outpatient Mental Heath Program. Read below to hear why she chose social work as a profession and how she works to make a positive change in the lives of her clients everyday.

What made you want to pursue a degree in social work?

Since I was young, I always was interested in learning about others and wanting to provide help and hope. I remember as a kid, there was one kid in my 3rd grade class who would frequently have outbursts. Instead of responding negatively, I wanted to know more about him. To this day that still stands out to me that this profession was always where I was meant to end up.

How long did it take to earn your social work degree and license?

It took me a total of six years (four years for undergraduate studies and two years for graduate school). After graduating from graduate school, I obtained my licensure within 3 months. 

What is your current positon at UMCH Family Services and what does this job entail?

I am an outpatient mental health therapist. I provide therapeutic services in schools, homes, and the community setting.

Social work is such a broad field, how did you narrow your path down to working with children and families?

To be honest, when I first started graduate school I wanted to work on policies and more legal/macro practice. After interviewing for an internship with a macro focus, I knew in my heart that providing more direct services was a better fit for me. I completed an internship with more focus on kids and families and knew that was the place for me. 

What types of clinical interventions and therapeutic methods do you use with your clients?

I utilize a variety of different therapeutic interventions and methods depending on the needs of my clients. One common therapeutic method I utilize with all my kids and families is mindfulness. I also provide trauma-focused interventions, self-regulation, anger management, narrative therapy methods, art therapy methods, play therapy interventions and whatever my clients needs are.

How do you maintain enthusiasm for a career that doesn’t always offer a happy ending? How do you avoid burnout?

I knew going into this profession there was traditionally higher burn-out rates, so I have always made it a focus to be aware of where I am with things and take the time needed for self-care. I do that through mindfulness, exercising, spending time with family and friends, drawing and playing with my dogs. I try to have a type of “self check-in” regularly and know my own personal signs of burn-out. When I do start to feel like I am not as enthusiastic, one thing that is helpful for me is to continue to think of what a wonderful opportunity I have been given to provide hope for kids and families and that typically rejuvenates me. 

What has been one of your biggest successes?

I would say when I have had a client I have been working with reach all of their goals for services. It is so rewarding to see them succeed and tap into their strengths. I would also say the rapport I have built with the clients I work with and the schools they are in. I love when I can celebrate their accomplishments and help them see the potential they have within themselves to be successful.

What challenges have you faced in the social work field?

There is a substantial lack of resources and barriers in linking with resources which can be frustrating at times.

What advice or suggestions would you offer to people who are considering a similar career path?

I would challenge anyone going into this field to have an optimistic, but realistic approach regardless of the population you work with or your focus in the field. Things take time, like anything else, but if you stick with it (and take care of yourself in the process) then it is SO rewarding. 

What do you hope to accomplish as a social worker?

I hope to provide continued support and hope for the kids and families I work with. I hope that one day, they will look back and say, “I am successful today because of the support I had from my social worker when I needed it the most.”

Ohio’s Opioid Epidemic and Need For Foster Parents

“There is a growing chasm between the number of available foster families and the increasing number of children who enter the child welfare system because one or both of their parents are drug addicts…Today I want to issue a call to Ohioans who may be interested in being a foster parent. I ask them to make that leap and open their home to a kid or kids who could use a stable, loving home.”

–Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine

On August 24th 2017, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine held a press conference to talk about the growing need for foster families in Ohio and new initiatives aimed at attracting individuals to become licensed foster parents.  Ohio has been one of the hardest hit by the recent Opioid epidemic; having the nation’s highest rate of deadly heroin overdoses and the child welfare system is feeling it. According to Franklin County Children Services, there are 3,000 more children in the child welfare system than there were seven years ago when the opioid crisis began. Currently in Ohio there are more than 15,000 kids in the child welfare system, but only 7,200 foster families taking them in.  Families are needed for all age children and they are needed now!

New initiatives have been put into place in hopes more Ohioans will open their homes. These include:

1.)A new foster home recruitment website . This website includes information on the requirements for becoming foster parents and a directory of private foster care agencies in Ohio where individuals can become licensed.

2.)A 1 million dollar grant that was awarded to the Waiting Children Fund to implement kinship family and foster family recruitment in ten Ohio counties.

3.)Required BCII background checks being expedited to a 24 hour turnaround time for foster parent applicants.


Are you able to meet Ohio’s growing need and take a child or children into your home? If you are interested in becoming a foster parent you can contact us at: kbanks@umchohio.org or 614-559-2800.

Want to learn more? Listen to the press conference in full here.


House Bill 50: The Fostering Connections Act-Update

You may have read our last post,House Bill 50: The Fostering Connections Act . If you did, you know that this bill will expand foster care services to the age of 21 in Ohio, if not check it out! This bill has excited a lot of youth, parents and staff working to emancipate children successfully from Ohio’s foster care program. So what has happened since the bill passed? We wanted to let you know!

The Foster to 21 Program has officially been given a name and is now known as, Bridges. It was given this name to best convey what it actually will be: a voluntary “bridge” from foster care to independence. Youth who age out of foster care will be able to request housing or other supportive services at any time between their 18th and 21st birthdays.

An advisory committee was put together by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services back in October and has been meeting regularly to discuss how to build the Bridges program and implement it effectively. They have been tackling tough issues surrounding the program’s infrastructure and policies such as how youth will smoothly transition from foster care to Bridges, identifying Ohio Administrative Code rules that may be affected by the program, as well as new rules that may be necessary to support the program, and how to effectively market this program so youth will want to take part in it.

There is still much to figure out, but we do know that in order for foster youth to be eligible for the Bridges Program they will have to meet one of the following criteria:

  • Completing secondary education or a program leading to an equivalent credential.
  • Enrollment in an institution that provides post-secondary or vocational education.
  • Employed for at least 80 hours per month.
  • Incapable of doing any of the above activities due to a medical condition, and incapacity is supported by regular documentation from a medical professional.
  • Participating in a program or activity that is designed to remove barriers to employment.

We also know that youth enrolled in the program may be in a variety of supervised living situations, including:

  • Apartment living
  • Room & board arrangements
  • College or university dormitories
  • Host homes
  • Shared roommate settings

The Advisory Board will continue to work along with The Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services to build the Bridges Program and support one of our most vulnerable populations; youth emancipating form the foster care system. Right now, the program is set to be implemented on December 11th, 2017.

What do you all think of this new program? Share your comments below and be sure to check in for more updates as information is released regarding this impactful change on our system!