The work of the South County Foster Care & Adoption Unit, part of “the Highway Crew,” is about moving families to a place where they can function independently, while providing community based/identified natural supports to facilitate safety/stability for the future. Their main goal is to promote the safety, permanency, and well-being of the youth we serve. Supervisor Matt Copsey answers a few questions about the unit:
Foster Family News: What is your background as a manager?
Matt Copsey: I have been a Foster Care & Adoption supervisor for the past 11 years.
FFN: What is your philosophy of social work?
MC: I believe strongly that every child/adolescent is entitled to a family. The children we work with deserve/require the safety, stability, structure, and nurturance of a family. This is essential not only while in foster care but as an established support network for them to thrive in the future. Families can take different forms, whether it be a parent-headed household or community network to help support older youth.
FFN: How long have you worked in the field of social work?
MC: Prior to my current position, I was a case carrying foster care social worker for 10 years. Before working for Fairfax County, I worked in the therapeutic foster care realm, juvenile probation, and in a diagnostic group home for children. All in all, I’ve worked in the social work field for 26 years.
FFN: What is the name of your unit?
MC: Along with my unit, I have the privilege of working with another foster care unit, side by side in South County. Though we are our own separate units, we function together as one team to support each other. We have been known as the “Highway Crew,” a reference to our office being located on Richmond Highway.
FFN: What is the structure of your unit?
MC: I currently have two foster care specialist III’s and three foster care specialist II’s, one of whom works part time. We are also supported by an administrative assistant.
FFN: What does your unit do, and what is the main goal of your unit?
MC: Our goal is to promote the safety, permanency and well-being of the youth we serve. We also recognize that it takes a village to do this, so supporting and collaborating with our partners is essential.
FFN: Do you provide other supports to families?
MC: I like to think that we serve as a road map for families. Our goal is to move families to a place where they can function independently, but to provide community based/identified natural supports to facilitate safety/stability for the future. Many of the youth we serve remain in contact with us due to positive relationships they formed and guidance they may seek.
FFN: Who does the unit serve, and approximately how many people does that include?
MC: My unit serves on average about 35 youth in foster care, along with their families.
FFN: What is one thing you want people to know about your unit?
MC: Each individual member of my unit is extremely passionate. They have a strong desire to help and advocate for the families they serve. Social work is not an easy profession and is fueled on the core goals/values of each individual specialist.
FFN: How can they reach the unit?
MC: If you would like to speak to a specialist directly, please don’t hesitate to call or email. If you have questions/concerns, feel free to email or call me directly at 703-704-6305.
FFN: When should they reach out to your unit?
MC: We are here to help and support the foster parents. Should you have any questions or just have the desire to talk, please do not hesitate to contact us. We recognize the hard work of foster parents and want to support you as much as possible.
FFN: Is there any other question that you wish I had asked about your unit? If so, please provide an answer.
MC: How do you engage families?
Social work is an ever-evolving practice. Each member of the unit brings a certain energy and creativity in working with families. No cookie-cutter approach will be effective in getting families to change and improve upon themselves. We are the change agent and an effective style that works for one family may not work for another. It is our job to find the right approach for engagement and intervention. We are proud to be a part of Fairfax County DFS, Children Youth and Families Division, which embraces and implements innovative, evidenced-based practices. These practices in turn often become a model for the state.
FFN: What is your favorite thing about the work you do?
MC: Achieving permanency for our youth is the most rewarding experience. Helping guide individuals/families from their most difficult times, helping them navigate through services/supports to progress to a better/safer situation for themselves and for their families is the reason I do this work.
This article posting is part of the Foster Family News monthly newsletter designed to keep foster parents informed about all the new and notable happenings in Fairfax County.
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