My Experience with Resilience Alliance in Ohio

By Heather Murphy, Caseworker III, Summit County, OH

I am a caseworker at Summit County Children Services. I have been doing this work for 12 years and am currently part of the Family Preservation Unit. Our intent is to work with families on a voluntary, short-term, intensive basis. Our main goal is to ensure child safety while providing the family with services that can improve stability and enhance their overall functioning.  My unit was developed in May 2018 to work with families on a voluntarily basis.  Family Preservation consists of seven direct staff workers and one supervisor. Our unit is very supportive of one another and relies on each other during difficult times.  The hardest part of my job is knowing that my clients have the ability to make changes in their life, but they struggle to believe in themselves. 

Turnover has been a problem within our agency for years, but it affects each department differently.  Intake has been the most difficult department to fully staff.  The work is intensive, extremely important, and direct. The skills needed to assess the safety of children are very intricate.  When there is a lot of turnover within the Intake department, it directly affects the rest of the agency because intakes need to be dispersed throughout the agency, due to the sheer volume of reports. Staff turnover impacts me indirectly through increased stress levels related to cases and ensuring consistency for families. Another aspect of how turnover affects us is the lack of cohesion between departments. When staff is constantly changing, it is very difficult to build trust amongst workers and bridge the connection between departments.  

Voices from the FieldAs part of our work with the QIC-WD, our agency incorporated Resilience Alliance (RA). RA involves weekly groups to help our staff become more aware of ourselves, our feelings, our stresses, and how to increase resiliency.  The QIC-WD is also helping us address how supervisors work with their staff to recognize stress and focus on self-care. I have found RA to be beneficial.  The weekly groups provide creative and fun activities to address resiliency and we are building relationships with workers outside of our department.  This has expanded my support system of individuals outside of those I would typically utilize.  RA has become a normal part of my day-to-day work schedule. My supervisor incorporates skills and activities throughout each week. Since COVID-19 has changed the way we work with one another, RA is more important than ever.  I am constantly using RA skills to help manage the new and different stressors we encounter from the pandemic.  I have also taken different activities from RA and shared them with my clients. I have had different individuals use these skills or complete activities to help with their future and focus on their lives. My biggest take away from RA is that anyone can utilize these skills to help improve their life.