Tag Archives: postaweek2011

Four Weeks Down, Five to Go

The State of Michigan requires that any child welfare workers complete nine weeks of training through the Child Welfare Training Institute (CWTI) before they can begin managing cases on their own. I was enrolled in the CWTI on May 16 to begin this process. The first week was completing homework while working at my home office. I did online assignments and shadowed different workers. It allowed me to learn quite a bit more about the ins and outs of foster care.

The next two weeks consisted of classroom training with about 300 new hires. This included people with the state who were in CPS, foster care, and adoption. Also, there were private agencies there that were going to be doing foster care and adoption. There were some things that were helpful to learn, but some other stuff was just review to me. If you’re interested, you can check out our swearing-in ceremony here.

This past week was back in the office to do more homework. What was really nice about it was that I found out about a few cases I’ll be getting when I’m done in mid-July. This meant that I got to meet at least one of the families and talk to them. I also read up on some case files. It was very informative and it’s good to know about what I’ll be doing specifically.

The next three weeks I’ll be in Lansing for classroom learning on the specifics of doing foster care (namely the paperwork). Then another week in the office, and my final week will be a mock trial and a big test. As you can tell, my updates have been sparse, and probably will continue to be. Hopefully it’ll be a bit more regularly in July once training and class and interning are wrapping up.

A Movie I’ve Watched More Than Any Other…

Today’s post a day topic is what movie have you watched more than any others…which, frankly, is a difficult question to answer and depends on a lot of factors. For example, if we’re saying what movie have I watched most over my entire lifetime, then it would probably be one of the films I watched constantly as a child, because I still watch them every so often. So, I decided to narrow it down a bit to say that it’s only from age 15 until now…but even that requires more movies to discuss, since I love films.

If we’re stating what movie I’ve watched most overall since then, it’s probably Crash. The film is absolutely outstanding and one of the best. I know it practically by heart. However, I rarely decide to watch this when I’m by myself. Most of the times I’ve watched it was because my friends have to see and I’m happy to be the one to show it to them.

Now, when I’m by myself, the film I’ve chosen to watch the most would have to be Almost Famous. It’s beautiful and I find something new in it every time. I love that movie, and you should probably check it out if you haven’t already.

My First Week of Work

It has been a while, I know. First I had finals, then it was my me time, and then it was my first week of work. However, even though the next few months are going to be insanity with a full-time job and 8 credits, I am going to work hard to write once a week. That is my promise.

Anyway, I thought some of you may be interested in my first week at the Department of Human Services. I arrived at eight in the morning along with another new hire. We were shown around the building and I was told that they actually moved me from a foster care caseworker to a children’s protective services (CPS, get used to that abbreviation) caseworker. This was fear inducing, as I like the idea of longterm cases from foster care. The in-and-out idea that exists in CPS makes me sad. I want to get to know my clients.

As I was trying to wrap my brain around this new change (while doing paperwork), another person came to tell me that they may actually move me back to foster care, however I should stick with CPS until I was told otherwise. So I spent all last week shadowing CPS workers and realizing that, if need be, it is a job I could actually do. The people were great and my supervisor cared about my well-being and learning. However, I still wanted to be in foster care.

Luckily, today I found out that I was switched. I got to read through a case and now I’ll spend the rest of the week shadowing foster care caseworkers. Hopefully next week I’ll begin the nine week training and then be able to get actual cases. Even though last week I learned a lot about an area of child welfare that I won’t be working in, I also learned a valuable lesson about myself. I often believe that I can’t handle something without trying it. In reality, it turns out that I can handle a lot more than I think. That’s nice to know.

Tomorrow I have four hours of class after work and Wednesday I have internship supervision and some interning, so, naturally, my weeks will be insane, but hopefully I’ll be able to handle all of it.

A Brief Review of Bell’s Book

Okay, so back when the Bell controversy first hit, I promised to read Love Wins (the book that started it all) and write a review. However, in reading it I realized two important things. First of all, the book is all about Heaven and Hell. Second of all, I don’t have the credibility to speak on the truth of Heaven and Hell. Now, if you want a more comprehensive review than what I’m about to give you (like a theological analysis of the Heaven/Hell debate that is listed in the book), you can probably find something online. The one key to look for is if they claim Bell is an universalist. If they do, run away FAST. Today I will present a few key points that I found in reading said book.

1. Rob Bell is not an Universalist.
Bell’s book presents an idea that all of us end up in the new Heaven/new Earth when we die and that it is the same place. However, our attitude is what makes it Heaven or Hell. This is not an Universalist idea. Universalism is the belief that everyone ends up in Heaven.

2. The book covers a topic which does require discussion.
Whether you agree or disagree with Bell, the idea of Heaven and Hell is one that requires discourse. There are many differing beliefs on the topic and people should really explore all the options. You can probably find works by your favorite theologian on the topic.

3. Rob Bell kills unnecessary amounts of trees.
Now that you know that I think the topic is admirable, you should know that Bell’s book is a waste of space. Obviously this has nothing to do with what’s being written
It’s about how
It is written
With short lines
To attempt
To provide
Or something.
The 200 page book probably could have been cut down to 150, if not shorter.

4. Christianity is not as easy as Bell makes it sound.
In the second to last chapter, Bell speaks about how many pastors and Christians see Christianity as being so much work and that this is incorrect because God doesn’t want to make us slaves. He compares us to the older son in the story of the prodigal son, saying we don’t need to do as much work as we feel we need to do. I both agree and disagree with him.
First of all, this parable is found in Luke 15. The context is that Jesus is preaching to crowd full of “tax collectors and sinners.” Pharisees are also in attendance, and they marvel at the fact that this supposed God spends His time with sinners. He tells them several parables about the importance of all His followers. This parable is one of them. The meaning is not that discipline is worthless, but that we have blessings in God’s presence. The point is that everyone is welcome if they will humble themselves and bring themselves before God. This is a part of the Christian life.
The Christian life takes discipline. This is referenced many times, and one that comes to mind is Romans 6:20-23:
“For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Those are the views on the book that I will put out there on the internet. Hopefully this helps somewhat in your decision to read or not to read the book.

Apartment Hunting

Okay, I know I haven’t written at all this week, but this is still going to be a quick update because I’m getting old (meaning it’s almost 11:00 pm and I’m exhausted).

Yesterday, I visited six apartments in an attempt to find one that I would occupy in September. It may seem ridiculous to try to make this decision in April, but I live in a college town (as in there are four colleges here), so September would be a major time to move. This means I’m trying to get an application done and on a reservation list ASAP. After visiting these apartments (which had been narrowed down after careful review on the internet), I realized that I have no idea what it means to apartment hunt.

Is it better to get the cheapest apartment that doesn’t seem that nice? Should I get the smaller, pricier apartment that I think is cuter? How important is it to have certain utilities included? How much of my income should be dedicated to rent?

In case you couldn’t tell, I’ve never rented an apartment. At eighteen, I went to undergrad, where I lived in dorms for four years. For one semester, I was in University apartments, but it isn’t really the same, since it was the same, basic housing price. When I graduated, I moved back home to save money while I got my MSW. Now that I know I have a full-time job soon, apartment hunting seems to be the logical step, and I will be living alone.

Does anyone have any good tips on apartment hunting? Just trying to pick the best place. I’d hate to regret this decision…

I’m Bi-Winning

A lot has happened in the last week (and two days, but the specific amount of time is not really the point). The last time I wrote to you, I was 22, and now I am 23, but frankly, that’s the lowest level of change. On my 23rd birthday, I was offered a full time position with the Department of Human Services as a foster care caseworker.

Those of you who keep up with my blog should know about the giant DHS recruitment that I went to a few weeks ago. At that recruitment, I was told it would be 4-6 weeks before I heard anything, which made me assume it wouldn’t be until the end of the semester. However, on March 16 I got a phone call offering me the position, which resulted in me jumping up and down, incredibly excited to know there was a job waiting for me in August.

However, as I called the county office to discuss getting a drug test, I found out that they would need me to start no later than the beginning of May. They were basically saying I could finish up this semester, but I’d need to figure something out about school for the Spring/Summer semester. Suddenly everything was different and I felt I needed to choose between the 12 credits left to get my MSW and a full-time, full benefits job. And I was panicked…

Now, for those of you who don’t know me, you may not know how much of a planner I am. I plan out my life and my days far in advance…I like knowing where I’m going and when. Throwing a kink in that chain is incredibly anxiety provoking for me, and none of this was in my plan. The goal was to get my MSW in August and have a job waiting for me, not to get a job and have to choose between that and my Masters, but alas, this was where I was. After a lot of thought, planning, and research, I chose to take the job and finish my MSW requirements by December instead of August.

So, the past week has been a lot of phone calls, emails, and paperwork, and it’s still not done. However, I think I’ve figured out what my classes will look like and my finishing my internship will look like. Basically, all that’s left is registration and financial aid, and the latter of those is basically out of my control (though I do have one last form to fill out and one more phone call to make). Slowly, carefully, things are falling into place, and the next six months are going to be crazy, but things will get done and I will be okay. I’m hoping to even move out of my parents’ house in early September and get my own apartment.

So, enjoy this crazy journey with me. Also, I received Rob Bell’s book on Monday and have begun to read it. Keep a look out for a full review sometime in the next few weeks.

*Note about the title: In case you don’t know, this is a Charlie Sheen reference. It is not supposed to mock anyone who is bi-sexual or bi-polar…just to mock Charlie Sheen…

A Five Year Love Affair…

Tomorrow is my twenty-third birthday, and due to becoming a year older, I have been nostalgic recently. Five years ago, I took my first trip to Europe. I had just turned eighteen (as in two days before the plane took off) and it was, in a way, my first taste of independence (I was with chaperones from school, so I was not completely independent). The following are some pictures from the trip and quotes from my travel journal.

"Assisi is beautiful. It's MUCH more peaceful than Rome."

"It's so pretty when the Eiffel Tower sparkles. I can't even describe it."

"Mark, you aren't allowed to use your accent in London because they'll hear you and be like, 'dude, you're white.'" (That would be a quote from my friend Kristen)

"The Colosseum is amazing. I couldn't stop touching it, but it doesn't feel real"

Have You Heard About Rob Bell Lately?

It seems as though the Christian world has now focused its attention to Rob Bell and his new book, Love Wins. There are many claiming (without having read it in whole) that Bell is a heretic and going against the Bible by stating that all people are going to Heaven. The fact that people are declaring they know the relationship with God that a person has without even having read the novel in question is one of the reasons that I get utterly frustrated with Christians…

Now, let me clarify that I am not a Bell fan. I am fully against the emergent church movement and Bell happens to be a part of it. (If you read anything Bell writes on the topic, he’ll state that he isn’t. However, most people involved with the movement claim to not be involved with the movement. Bell’s basic theology matches with it completely.) Like most Christian subsets I’m against, the emergent church gets some things right. I love the fact that they are so focused on the poor and the outcasts. However, completely ridding oneself of all traditions and ignoring pieces of Scripture that don’t seem to fit with your beliefs are giant red flags that there are issues with your theology. The idea is that God’s love trumps all, and while I would love to believe that, words and actions from both God and Jesus seem to suggest otherwise. There is some accountability on our part.

I think what I find odd about this whole situation is the fact that Bell claiming all people will go to Heaven (provided that’s his actual claim) is surprising. He has often preached of the power of God’s love in such a way that seems to suggest a far more liberal take on sin than the Bible backs up. He even has stated that he finds truth in all places and all religions, so long as they point back to God (I don’t understand what that even means). Yet many considered him one of the great Christian writers of our time and so many considered his ideas as straight from God’s mouth. Many people from my generation find him to be inspiring and are outraged at the idea that he might suggest this (or agree with him, but more on that for a later post).

Once again, it is frustrating to me that Christians find the need to jump to conclusions based on what people say. I’m not a firm believer on taking quotes without their context (it can have dismal outcomes) or for taking people purely at their word. Because of this, I have preordered the book from Amazon (I figured with all the attention it’s getting, the library would be impossible, yet I could resell it fairly easily). Even though I’m not a Bell fan, I will read it and review it IN context. Granted, you still shouldn’t take my word for it, because I’m human, but I’ll be telling you all about it in about a month (or two).

Redid My Blog…Again

I have once again remade my blog. I felt it needed to be done because I can’t stay focused on social work as is. This is now going to be bits and pieces of my life. Most of you who read this regularly are family and friends anyway, so I’m sure you won’t mind. If you keep up with this blog because social work interests you, I’m terribly sorry, but there will still be topics on it. I just found that I not only didn’t care to write about it often, but most of the blogs I like are about day-to-day activities, so I’m going to write more about that. Soon I will update my links so you can see what I read…for now, I’m buried in papers.

The American Idol for Social Workers

It has definitely been a while since I wrote last, and for that I apologize. This week is my spring break and I have been constantly running around (first finishing up last-minute homework, then visiting my sister, then going to my job interview). Finally, I can write, and I can tell all of you about the recruitment I attended the past few days.

Tuesday was the first day of the recruitment for child welfare workers. We all gathered together in a room for an hour and a half presentation by a panel. Questions were asked about job specifics (and some even asked what child welfare really was, which was just sad) and they explained to us how the process was going to go. We then signed up for our first round of interviews based on whether you wanted to go in the morning or in the afternoon. I signed up for a 10 am slot and handed them my resume and transcripts. Then I gave another copy of my resume to a private agency that was there to get a few applicants (after all, it never hurts to apply).

Wednesday I arrived a bit early and was handed a writing exercise and a map of Michigan counties. We were to pick our top three counties to work in and complete the exercise and then we handed them in. After they were completed and turned in, I waited for my name to get called. Frankly, it felt like I waited far too long. Finally, I was called back and was asked two questions and sent back to the waiting room. She had to score my answers and review my writing exercise to see if I had a high enough score to come back the next day. It turns out I did and I signed up for a second interview at 10:30 today.

Today meant a lot of waiting in the waiting room. When I arrived, I was handed a sheet to fill out for a background check and then I waited for my name to be called. Eventually it was and I met with two people. I was asked eight questions and then asked them my own questions about specifics of the job. Now, I wait. Apparently, what happens first is they score my entire packet. If my score is high enough, they will notify me that I am in the applicant pool for my first three counties. Myself and any other applicants in the pool will be ranked and sent to those counties in order of ranking. We will then be notified as to whether or not we got a job. This could take four to six weeks…

In the meantime, I plan to join sites like Monster and Linked In to try to do some networking and apply to other jobs. I also receive fairly regular emails from the school of social work listing different job availabilities. Does anyone have any recommendations for job websites? Whether they’re broad or specifically for social work, I don’t mind…