The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but reveal to them their own. – Benjamin Disraeli
This month we are celebrating the hard work of social workers. At Easter Seals North Georgia, each of our 11 child development centers has a least one Family Support Advocate who works with families to ensure each child is receiving the care and support he/she needs to be successful and thrive.
One of our FSAs that has been with ESNG for almost 20 years is Ms. Kim Tillman. She works with children and families at our Brookvalley location. Let’s meet her:
How did you come to work at Easter Seals North Georgia?
I started working as a teacher about 20 years ago when Easter Seals was a small Preschool on North Druids Hills with about 3 or 4 classrooms. When Easter Seals became a Head Start grantee, I applied for the position of a Family Support Advocate. This position has been rewarding in so many ways.
What is a typical day like for you?
Each day starts with greeting parents as they walk their children to their classrooms. I invite them to a center activity, parent meeting, special workshop, or training. I also take this opportunity to remind parents of medical documents needed or an upcoming appointment. After breakfast, I go to my three Pre-K classrooms to take attendance, follow-up on previous attendance, follow-up on concerns, and take note of things I need to discuss with the family. I document all this in our system.
An essential service we provide is our commitment to the health of each child. I take care of health screenings (blood pressure, vision and hearing screenings). If we cannot do them at the center, I coordinate with community partners to help. If we do spot a potential problem, we coordinate with local doctors, dentists, or specialists. I will even drive them to an appointment to make sure the child gets the help he/she needs.
I also follow up with parents of children who are absent. We have to make sure that parents understand the importance of coming to school every day. If they are unable to attend because of housing or health issues, I need to address those. I will also visit the child’s home if I am unable to get in touch with the parents on the phone.
Throughout the day, I will answer questions about our program, enrollment, and make referrals for services to make the family stronger. I will also take parents on a tour of the child development center.
At the end of the day, I greet the parents as they pick up their children. I want to make sure they know I am here to help them become successful.
What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is helping parents receive services that their children need. For example, together with the family, we craft a plan with specific goals they want to achieve. We make sure they are achievable and have a clear plan on how to do that. I also enjoy assisting parents to become their child’s greatest advocate. During the holidays, without our help, the child would not have a holiday at all.
I also love to see a child happy with their accomplishments. Realizing I had a hand in impacting their lives in a positive manner is a job well done for me.
What quality do you think makes a person a good social worker?
Dedication to being a positive role model in another person’s life.
Do you have a story of a child and/or family who thrived because of the services you provided?
Yes, thank God I have the pleasure of several. This year at Brookvalley there is a grandmother that is the guardian of her granddaughter. Ms. Annie Elder, who volunteers in our kitchen very often, is retired from working in the school system food service. It really has been great for her to continue making sure children have healthy meals at Brookvalley. When our cook is out, she is able to substitute.
At Easter Seals, we may not be able to provide everything a family needs, but we have many community partnerships that help us do that. Project Health Grandparents was just one of those partnerships that helped Ms. Annie and Kaylee on their road to self-sufficiency. I enrolled her in the program, which works to improve the quality of life for families in which grandparents are raising grandchildren in parent-absent homes. The overarching goal of the program is to strengthen grandparent-headed families by providing social work and health services, support groups, legal assistance referrals and improved access to community resources. Through these interventions, PHG seeks a reduction in the stress level of intergenerational families, and stabilization or improvement in their social, physical, and mental well-being.
The program has allowed Ms. Annie to provide things to her granddaughter that most people take for granted. They had a special outing to the Georgia Aquarium, they attended luncheons, and she was able to share her experiences with other grandparents raising their grandchildren. It’s been uplifting and supportive to her.
This Christmas Kaylee had a holiday that she will never forget. She received all the things she wanted and more. Ms. Annie didn’t have the struggle to decide whether to pay a bill or get a prescription for medicine to provide a holiday that all children deserve. Kaylee had a beautiful Christmas with the assistance of Project Healthy Grandparents.
Kaylee is very proud to see her grandmother at her school helping and everyone knows her. It’s been a pleasure to have been a positive aspect in her life.