Hey kids like me! Watch for Every Child Matters! Bringing Awareness & Prevention to Child Abuse Carnival! April 14th, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Alamosa Recreation Center (call Ivette at (719) 587-5242). April is Child Abuse Awareness Month.
Today’s column is by my Friend, Ivette Atencio, Part I:
Hello, my name is Ivette Atencio. I am a case aide for the Alamosa County Department Of Human Services Child Welfare Unit. Amarah, thank you for letting me share some of my experiences and also my feelings through you. Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to have a job that helped people, especially the youth. I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to work in the Child Welfare Unit. I have a little over seven years of experience in child welfare.
During this time I have experienced many sad and traumatic instances, but also some very happy and joyous times as well. I am not able to disclose names but I will share some of my experiences.
I have supervised visits with children and their parents or other family members. While I supervised these visits, I was able to bond with the children and also some of the parents. At times it was uncomfortable because I felt like the parents looked at me with disdain. I would think to myself and ask myself, “How would you feel if a stranger was supervising a visit between you and your child?” I tried my best to let the parent know that I was there to supervise their visit with their child/children in a safe environment. I wasn’t there to judge them or to try and make them feel bad. But at the same time, the children came first. If I felt like the visit wasn’t safe for the child or was affecting the child negatively I would end the visit.
At times I would have to redirect the parents because they would say inappropriate things to the children. In one case, I had a parent who was consistently not showing up to their visits. The look on the children’s faces was devastating to me. I would try and comfort them and explain to them that it wasn’t their fault. They would cry and beg me to wait five more minutes, even though we had already been waiting for a half hour. It was hard for me to say no, but eventually I would have to.
To make things even worse, as I drove the children back home we would see the parent walking in town with their significant other. The children would cry and get so angry and ask me, “Why do they have time to spend with their boyfriend/girlfriend, and not spend time with us?” Once again, I was trying to comfort them and reassure them that it was not their fault in any way. I, myself, was asking the same question. I was so angry and upset and was holding back tears because it hurt my heart so much.
I could go on and on about the traumatic experiences I’ve had, but I also want to share some happy times.
I have many happy and funny memories. I have had the opportunity to meet many bright, funny, and loving children. As I’m typing my story, I am flooded with many emotions. I remember the children’s faces, their names, and their unique personalities. I believe that I was blessed with the opportunity to have met each and every single child I worked with. I still have drawings and little “gifts” that they have given me. I cherish those with all my heart.
I have pictures that were given to me by the parents. I’ve been able to witness many children find their “Forever Homes.” One specific case comes to mind. I started supervising visits for a newborn and her parents. I became very attached to this baby. I was with her three days out of the week for many months. I was able to bond with this baby and I also developed a good relationship with the parents.
Ultimately, the child was reunited with her grandparents. That was a bittersweet moment for me. I was extremely happy that the baby would be reunited with her family members, but at the same time I was sad because I knew I would have to say goodbye to her. I remember carrying her out to her grandparent’s vehicle and putting her in her car seat. I hugged her, touched her cheek, and said goodbye. As I shut the door, she started crying and screaming as she reached her little arms out to me. Needless to say, I was an emotional wreck the rest of the day.
Unfortunately, we have a huge drug problem in the Valley. We have many babies being born drug-exposed. I don’t mean to come off as being mean or rude, but I feel like a lot of the parents need to be held accountable for their actions. They have made the choices in their lives that have negatively impacted their children and now DHS is involved. The children didn’t have a choice. The parents made that choice for them.
It’s not fair to the children!