Field Experience

Organization Profile

Bethany Christian Services is a global nonprofit organization that brings families together and keeps families together. Strengthening families for the well-being of children is our top priority. Our services include adoption, foster care, and pregnancy counseling. We also provide counseling to families, assist refugees and immigrants resettling in the U.S., and partner with several international countries to help keep families together. The work we do equips families to be the answer for children in need—as Christ intended.

Mission:

We demonstrate the love and compassion of Jesus Christ by protecting children, empowering youth, and strengthening families through quality social services.

In the hope that we will bring glory to God in everything we do, we focus on three core values:

Integrity – Make decisions that are consistent with Biblical principles.

Impact – Go above and beyond.

Innovation – Be dedicated to improvement.

Population Served:

Bethany Christian Services has helped people around the world, of varying ages, including infants, school-age children, young adults, and adults. Bethany focuses on families as a whole

Contact Information:

Address: 6687 Seeco Dr, Kalamazoo, MI 49009

Phone: (269) 372-8800

Professional Skills Development Plan

When I discovered that multiple internships were built into the curriculum for Child and Family Development at Western, I immediately became excited at the all of the possibilities.  Not only would I then have the opportunity to gain experience working with families and their children, but I would also be able to explore more than one organization within my time at Western. After hearing about Bethany Christian Services from a handful of classmates, I had gathered enough information to know that completing my field experience there would be an opportunity for growth, both personally and professionally.

To be more specific, a skill that I am hoping to focus on over the course of my internship at Bethan Christian Services is my communication skills. The atmosphere at Bethany is fast pace due to the nature of the job, and I fear that my communication lacks when I do not have the expected amount of time to prepare. Since becoming the director of a child care center is a goal of mine, I would like to better my communication skills as much as possible for the benefit of my career in the future. Having this particular skill will adjust how I handle delegating to my staff, making policies clear, as well as running meetings when they occur.

Being able to communicate clearly on the fly is also a skill that will benefit the families I will be interacting with later in my career. I will likely have to communicate with each family about tuition, program requirements, meetings, as well as conferences to report the child’s developmental status. Every family is different, and I will want to be sure that each family and I understand each other what is expected of both parties. There is no way to predict what types of communicating will occur throughout the day, and typically there will not be time for preparation beforehand. I would like to communicate my ideas and thoughts the correct way the first time, without having to make corrections or being unclear.

Another professional skill that I would like to focus on this semester is adaptability and reaction to stress. Due to my organized personality, I tend to become slightly overwhelmed when things do not happen according to plan, or when things are messy, and unorganized. Unfortunately, things do not go according to plan on a daily basis, especially when working directly with families in the community. Since every family is different, there is no way to predict how they will act, or how they will speak, particularly in regard to a stressful situation. I also think it is important to remain calm when amidst a stressful situation to help guide the parents through it and work alongside them. For example, if a child were to be injured and need medical attention, becoming emotional, and distraught is only going to add to the parent’s stress, when in reality they need somebody telling them that everything is going to be ok.

As professionals working with children and their families, it is our job to give them the best care possible and being able to remain calm during a stressful time is one way we can ensure that. Fortunately, my field-experience with Bethany will be good practice for handling stressful situations, because we will be handling children being separated from their parents, as well as parents who want to do everything, they can to have their kids back at home. Having the opportunity to better understand what these families are going through will help me serve families in similar situations to the best of my ability in the future.

In conclusion, having the opportunity to work with families in the community, and have a professional guiding me through each day, I hope to make large strides in my professional development. Working directly with families and children in need will be an eye-opening experience, and I hope to gain the professional ability to remain calm and stable in stressful situations. In addition to remaining calm, I would like to improve my ability to clearly communicate my ideas without needing time to prepare myself. Altogether, I am looking forward to seeing what possibilities unfold during my time at Bethany Christian Services.

Professional Skills Development Achieved

After reviewing my pre-field-experience reflection, I was happily surprised to see that I was given the opportunity to work on all of the professional development areas I had in mind at the beginning of the semester. One of the skills I was looking to improve was my ability to communicate clearly spontaneously, without having preparation beforehand. I also wanted to work on my ability to react to stressful situations in the work place, and improve both my reaction time and reaction methods.

            In regard to my communication, I had plenty of opportunities to communicate with parents, and make sure that everyone involved with the day’s activities was comfortable with proceeding. My experience with conducting parenting times I was able to communicate with parents as a professional, and by the end of my field experience was comfortable answering any questions asked by both biological parents, as well as foster parents. Knowing that Alayna had confidence in me to relay all of the important information the biological parents and the foster parents needed to know helped boost my confidence, and I was able to gain a lot of experience interacting with different types of families. There were times when the biological and foster parents were not pleased with the information I had to deliver and at first, I was worried about the reactions I would receive. However, after I was given the opportunity to handle those situations myself I learned how to be concise as to not create any confusion about what was important in regard to the case.

           Towards the end of my field experience, I had a long talk with my caseworker Alayna about how tasks as a case-worker changes constantly, and usually the plan you have for a day’s work changes instantly depending on the families you work with. I got a chance to go into many days with a plan for what I was responsible for, and many times that plan was either altered or changed completely due to canceled parenting times or emergency situations.

           For example, on my last day, after a parenting time had been canceled me and Alayna were given the chance to catch up on paperwork. After roughly ten minutes of being at our desks, a supervisor got a call that a foster child around 6 years old was attacking his current foster mom. This situation demanded that Alayna and I get in the car immediately and go to the house to make sure everyone was safe, and that the child had de-escalated. We got to the home as quickly as possible, and luckily the child had already calmed down. The foster mother had already put her other children in the car to keep them safe while they helped the young boy calm down. Since this emergency situation occurred, that child’s foster care worker had to arrange for different placement and handle other casework for that child which meant she was unable to drive his brother to a visit planned for later that day. Although it shocked me when I first learned of the emergency situation, I felt I was much more prepared for my plans for the day to change and handle them appropriately. I was able to calmly stay with the foster mom’s children in the care while they figured out a plan for the young boy, and I was also able to get passed the initial shock of the emergency situation, and complete the new tasks assigned to me.

Overall, this field experience has allowed me to see the world from a different point of view. It has also allowed me to learn how much work goes into taking care of children when their biological parents not longer can. There are so many kids who need to be taken care of, and being a social worker is just one way to help them. With this knowledge, I am hoping to encourage and support families I work with involved with the foster care system in the future, and I will also be able to provide them with more resources than I would have known about at the beginning of the semester. Having this experience will help me to better understand what foster children, foster parents and biological parents go through while the children are in foster care.