Community Worker Kathy Garcia
by Richard Bermack
Los Angeles County began hiring ex-foster children as community workers to help foster children transition. Los Angeles community worker Kathy Garcia not only helps with transitional services, but works with social workers such as Mary Shaw visiting children and checking on placements. Kathy has a real heart for the kids. They trust her, Shaw states.
Knowing that the first week a child is in a new placement
is crucial, Garcia calls the day after they are placed to see how they
are doing. I understand what it is like walking into a home full
of strangers, knowing that you will be left there without any lifeline
to hold on to and not knowing what to expect, she states. The
evil you know feels a lot safer than the evil you imagine, and a lot of
these kids came from a home that wasnt safe, so they really have
a lot of baggage.
Garcia works with youth 14 and over to prepare them for emancipation by connecting them with independent living services, making sure they have all their papers, such as birth certificates, school transcripts, and social security cards. But most of all she is there to listen and provide a role model. I share my experience being in foster care with them, and they trust me because what Im telling them isnt just book learning.
Garcia has worked at her job for three years she is the only community worker in her office, and has a caseload of 300 kids.