Casa Staff Interview: Meet Sarah

Q: How long have you been working with Casa and what was your starting position?

I started with Casa in October of 2015 as the Program Therapist for our Child Development Center. From that role, I became the Clinical Coordinator (July 2016) at the CDC, moved into the role of Associate Director of Programs (July 2017), and finally the Director of Programs (July 2018). 

Q:  How did you first learn about Casa de Amparo? 

I learned about Casa de Amparo through a friend who I went to graduate school with. I did further research on Casa de Amparo before applying for the CDC Therapist position and fell in love with the mission and the population served. 

Q: What is your role at Casa?

I am currently the Director of Programs at Casa de Amparo. I oversee Residential Services, New Directions, and Family Visitation programs. 

Q:  What drew you to Casa originally? And how has Casa changed since?

What drew me to casa originally was the mission statement, “treating and preventing child abuse and neglect.” In my Master’s program I worked with children and adolescents and knew this was the population I wanted to work with moving forward. Being able to help families and children who are struggling with ongoing trauma has been a dream job. Casa has changed in that there is more of a focus on CSEC and foster youth. Since starting at the former Child Development Center, an emphasis has been placed on helping underserved populations in our North County community. 

Q: What has been your favorite project?

My favorite project thus far has been working with the ARC implementation team. Currently, Casa is working with the National Childhood Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) for a 5 year partnership to implement ARC (Attachment, Regulation, and Competency) curriculum. This is a trauma focused model build for residential settings. We are currently in year 2, and are continuing to grow as an agency and learn through this curriculum.

Q: What have you gained from working at Casa?

I have gained more knowledge than I thought possible on trauma treatment and working with foster youth. The clinical experience I have gained is immeasurable and unique. I don’t think I would be the counselor I am today without the supervision and guidance I have received over these past 3 years.  

Q: What is on your wish list for the next 5 years with Casa?

I love the role I am in now at Casa. My wish for the next 5 years would be to continue to grow and develop within the organization. I love being able to train the teams I work with, so a goal would be to further the careers of some of the employees I supervise here within Casa. Being able to see teams thriving and working together is always my goal and I hope to see consistency within these teams over the next 5 years.  

Q: What is your favorite part about working for Casa?

My favorite part about working for Casa is being able to help others. I love being able to see the youth we work with meet their goals and build positive relationships with staff and others in the community. Seeing just one youth transition to a better space makes everything worth it. 

Q: What is your proudest moment at Casa?

My proudest moment at Casa would be seeing one of my clients all the way through treatment & meeting all her goals prior to graduation. It was so great to see her and her family smiling from ear to ear on graduation day and knowing I helped this family with the trauma they had faced the year prior. 

Q: How would you describe your day job to a child?

Great question.  I guess what I do is make sure everyone who lives here at Casa has a safe home and people to take care of them. I work with a lot of people who make sure kids like you get everything they need to be able to be a kid. 

Q:  What is your biggest achievement to date-personal and professional?

My biggest achievement would be becoming licensed in May 2018. I completed my Master’s degree & 2 years of post-Masters clinical hours before passing the licensing exam. 

Q: What does a typical day look like for you and what are you currently working on?

A typical day involves meeting with staff I supervise and working to ensure the programs at Casa are functioning the way they should. I am currently learning the ins and outs of Medi-Cal billing for our mental health program in residential. I am also working to better systems in our current programs (working to update policies & procedures).

Q: What three words would you use to describe your role?

Fast paced, fun, never a dull moment.

Q: If you could switch jobs with anyone, who would it be and why?

I would probably switch jobs with someone in development (only for one day though – they are busy!). I think it would be such a different role than I am in now so it would be a fun challenge to learn how they operate. 

Q: If you could change one thing about working here, what would it be?

That is a tough question. I wish we had the ability to hire more staff in all programs and give all current staff raises. However that would not be fiscally wise. It is hard balancing staff appreciation while running a non-profit and trying to balance a budget. 

Q: What do you like most about your job?

I love the team I am working with. They are understanding, kind, smart, and very helpful. It makes coming to work every day worth it and fun. 

Q: What advice would you give to a new casa team member?

Be patient with yourself. It will take some time to acclimate, and that is okay. You won’t feel completely comfortable in your new role for at least 3 months so always ask questions. I love when new staffs ask questions (even if you think they are dumb) because it shows you are dedicated, you want to know new information, and you are comfortable with seeking support. 

Q: What is your favorite movie or TV show?

There are so many. I always go back to the office, friends, and parks and rec when I need something to watch for the millionth time. 

Q: What do you do for fun?

My husband and I like to hike on the weekends & spend time with family. 

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