(Posted 2023 January)
Position: Social Services Specialist, Ongoing Sexual Abuse Unit of Protection and Preservation Services, Fairfax County Department of Family Services
No one ever grows up thinking that they want to have a career in social work/child welfare, but it’s an important profession that makes a huge difference in the lives of families in crisis. I work in a unit sometimes called CPS Ongoing, which means that I come into the picture after an abuse investigation has been completed. My job is to work with the families in an ongoing capacity. Sometimes this is voluntary, and other times it’s court ordered. My job is to meet the family where they are, set them up for stability, help them to reach goals, and make a transition to a new normal after the abuse has been disclosed.
I’m originally from Chicago. I got my undergraduate degree in psychology and started working in residential health. I went back to earn a master’s in social work, and I’ve been working with the county for five years. I did my internship with DFS, worked at the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board, and then returned to DFS in Adult Protective Services for three years. I transitioned to my role in the Children, Youth, and Families Division of DFS about a year ago.
This job has many opportunities to use a wide range of skills in different areas. I enjoy building a rapport with families through home visits. We spend time in court, meet families in schools, and offer therapeutic interventions. We work on teams doing consultations on specific cases, and we build relationships with other staff and partners inside and outside of our agency in order to help families. Right now. I am in my clinical supervision to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), which is a great opportunity offered here at DFS.
You’ll never be bored if you come to work for DFS! There are so many opportunities to become masterful at what you do. Providing ongoing support to families as they work through difficult circumstances enhances your clinical skills and prepares you to work with families in any capacity.
The work is extremely rewarding. There is nothing like seeing families as they come out of crisis and how they work through something to set up a safe and caring environment for their kids. It’s amazing to see people go from a 100-mph crisis where everything’s a mess to over time having it figured out. It’s beautiful watching families come out of crisis and being a part of that support.
Once you are in DFS it’s really hard to leave! The team is the best you’ll ever work with. Employment with the county allows you to take advantage of some amazing benefits including a retirement plan, and ample sick and annual leave. In my position, meetings are often scheduled around families and their time which can lead to less traditional work hours. However, we’re able to telework some days and use flex and comp time as well. I’ve even managed to squeeze in training runs for a marathon due to having a more fluid schedule.
Get to know more about Mary’s career through this video spotlight.
DFS is a great place to work, and there are great career and growth opportunities where I can make a difference. Join our team and find out what makes me feel lucky to be a part of this organization!