The Child Welfare Fellows are a group of Steve Hick’s School of Social Work Ph.D. students who are collaborating alongside TXICFW staff to produce child welfare research dissemination products by conducting research analysis and writing publications to advance the field of social work and child welfare.
Meet This Year’s Fellows:
I’ve always known I wanted to work with children, and have worked or volunteered in many settings such as daycares, schools, community centers, and organizations that support youth in foster care. However, it was a two-week trip to Guatemala in 2007 that made me realize that to support children, we need to support their families. As part of the project in Guatemala, I volunteered at a daycare center for families who lived and worked in the city garbage dump. One of the last days there, I noticed that only half of the children had come to school. When I asked the tias (center staff) why this was, they told me that several families were attending a funeral for one of the 3-year-olds who had attended the center and died because of complications of a parasite. While this news was astonishing enough, I was shocked to learn that a $5 medication could have cured the child–but the family had multiple children and couldn’t afford the bus ticket to the hospital. Experiencing this level of poverty first-hand, I realized that more support and services needed to be available to families so that they could break the cycle of poverty and inequity for themselves and their children. Since this experience, I have worked with several organizations connected to child welfare systems in Latin America, and learned the importance of empowering and engaging communities so that any services or interventions fit the needs that they identify for themselves, and are more likely to be sustainable and more meaningful.
Youth who hold multiple marginalized social identities navigate an ecology of inequality resulting in health, education and psycho-social wellbeing disparities. My research interests are driven by my passion to collaborate with youth and foster empowerment through community-based participatory research.