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 II:
Hello, my name is Ivette Atencio. I am a Case Aide for the Alamosa County Department Of Human Services Child Welfare Unit.
Not too long ago, I was walking into work, when I saw a young lady in the lobby. We made eye
contact and I felt like I knew her but I couldn’t remember her name or how I knew her. She looked at me as if she wanted to talk to me, but she just smiled at me. A few minutes later I had to leave for some reason, I can’t remember where I was going, but I ran into this young lady outside. This time she stopped me and asked, “Do you remember me?” I smiled at her and said, “You look so familiar. Tell me your name again.” She told me her name. I instantly remembered her. She told me she remembered all the times I transported her to school. She reached her arms out and gave me a big hug. I told her she had grown so much and asked her how she was doing.
She told me she was doing good and happy to be back in the valley. I hadn’t seen her since she was a little girl. I told her I was happy for her and to take care. I walked away feeling very happy and fulfilled at the same time. She remembered me and she was sincerely happy to see me! It helped me remember why I do what I do and that it is definitely worth it!
Many people think of DHS in a negative way. Yes, at times, children are removed from their parents or family members. Not because we find joy or get incentives for the number of children that are removed, as some people may think. They are removed because the child’s welfare is
in danger, whether it be physical, sexual, emotional abuse, or neglect.
If a child is removed it is not necessarily a “permanent” removal. Yes, in some cases, the child may never return home. Our goal at DHS is reunification. It is up to the parents to do everything in their power to provide a safe and nurturing environment for their children. DHS is there to help the parents as well. There are many services available to the parents to help get their life back on track.
My heart breaks for all the children that have been abused or neglected. I want people to know that we, child welfare workers, do have a heart and that we are also human. I personally have had many sleepless nights and high levels of anxiety. I’m sure many of my coworkers have gone through the same thing. You are constantly being told by other people, “Don’t take your work home with you” - easier said than done.
I am very fortunate to have a loving and supportive husband who lets me vent and cry on his shoulder after a tough day at work. I am extremely blessed that I am also surrounded by caring and loving coworkers. I know that every single person that I work with has a good heart and they care deeply about the children and the families they work with.
I feel like it takes a special type of person to be able to do this type of job. I know that I am a strong person, but at the same time, like I said earlier, I am human. I will fall and break at times, but I will rise again because I still have faith in humanity.
It is extremely important for us to take care of ourselves emotionally, physically, and mentally. There are days when I feel like I am going 100 miles an hour and when I can finally go home and “relax,” it is extremely difficult to just let go and unwind. I like to listen to music and read. As a matter of fact, as I’m typing this, my favorite song just came on. It’s called “Let It Be” off of the Across the Universe Soundtrack. I literally made my husband play it three times in a row!
Finding ways to take care of ourselves is very important. I’m thankful that my “work family” is supportive and I know they would be there for me if and when I need them. I would do the same for them.
Please love and care for your children. They are the most precious thing in this whole world. It is all of our jobs to protect them!
Amarah, thank you for giving “Kids Like Me” a voice. You are a strong and beautiful young lady and you have a heart of gold. Thank you for letting me tell my story.