Dragon Info

Child Welfare Articles

Social Worker Awareness Campaign

Overview: Providing Services on the Run

Children's Services Committee Plans Social Worker Awareness Campaign

Social Workers, Foster Kids and Community Suggest Issues

SB 2030 Findings

Special Reports

Dependency Court Overwhelmed

Social Worker Meltdown Series

Protecting Children, Restoring Families, It takes Time


July 2001
Crisis in Transitional Services for Foster Youth -- Independent Living Programs Make a Difference

Housing Is A Major Problem

Leonard Moncure and Jennifer

From Homeless to College Graduate

The social worker may be the only one you can trust

Kathy Garcia: I try to be that one adult a child can feel safe talking to.

February 2001
Assemblywoman Dion Aroner "The union needs to take leadership in providing best practices for taking care of kids and families"

Making a Difference, Jacob Ocampo takes social work to the community

September 2000
Social Worker Awareness Campaign

Riding Along with Bilingual Worker Frederick Machado

Social Worker Heartbeat

February 2000
Are Social Workers Entitled to a Life?
Just Say No to Excessive Overtime


October 1997
Caseload State of Emergency

CWS/CMS Computer Crashes Child Welfare System

Seeing Through The CWS/CMS Mess

February 1997
Adoptions:Parent v. Child

Los Angeles County:Working in the Adoption Factory

Creating New Families

June 1996
Kathleen Schormann and the Unquiet Death of Lance Helms

Family Reunification Workers Speak Out


SEIU Local 535 Dragon--Voice of  the Union-- American Federation of Nurses & Social Services Unioin

Making a Difference
Jacob Ocampo

February 2001

Jacob Ocampo, with Maya and her new born baby. Jacob and Maya are holding up photos of him  standing next to Maya,who is wearing a graduation gound, and seated in a wheel chair. Ocampo is wearing a suit and tie in the photo he is holding up.
Jacob Ocampo with Maya, an ex-client. While in foster care, Maya was stricken with cancer and was not expected to live. She recalls how Ocampo stuck with her, encouraging her through radiation, chemotherapy, and several operations. Ocampo would visit her on his days off and kept in touch even after she was no longer in his caseload. They hold photos taken at her high school graduation, which she attended in a wheel chair. She now has a loving husband and just gave birth to a healthy child.

Los Angeles emergency response worker Jacob Ocampo has dedicated his life to helping children and parents become healthy families. He developed a parenting curriculum for Spanish-speaking parents, conducted parenting classes, and uses his time off to educate the community about child welfare issues. He understands the issues parents and children face.

“I had a rough childhood, and it’s only by a miracle that I didn’t end up in the system,” he states. “My dad used to beat me and my teachers would ask me why I had bruises all over my arms and legs. That was back in the 1960s and 1970s, before there were mandated reporting laws.”

Ocampo’s father immigrated from Guatemala and didn’t understand how to raise a child in this culture. Ocampo has taken it on himself to provide the information his father didn’t have to members of the community, especially Latinos.
“I understand what parents from different cultures are going through. They can’t understand the American laws about corporal punishment or leaving children alone– things that people normally do in other counties. So for a lack of knowledge, parents are having their kids taken away. And once in the system, the court procedures make it hard for them to get their children back. It is hard for them to understand what is going on. By just educating them we can keep them from having their kids end up in the system. We can save the taxpayers money and avoid heartaches for these children and parents.”

Jacob Ocampo in a public market place near a food stand, wiht a check cashing sign behind him. He is hoping to find  parents to speak with  who need information about child welfare.
“For a lack of knowledge, parents are having their kids taken away...By just educating them we can keep them from having their kids end up in the system.”

Ocampo describes some of the difficulties parents have once their children, especially teenagers, are in the foster care system. “Latino parents are very protective of their kids. They believe in strict discipline and use corporal punishment as part of caring for their children. All of a sudden, when a child is in a foster home, the child is overwhelmed with the freedom that foster parents give them. They are in a setting that they have never see before. They have more freedom at school, more freedom to stay out late at night, better schools, better food, more affluence. Normally in a traditional culture girls may not date until they are 17 or 18, but in this culture they can go out when they are as young as 10 or 11. And boys too, they can stay out late. In Latino culture they have to be in by 9:00 or earlier than that. I don’t remember being able to stay out past 9:00. Then there is the issue of the clothes these days–being able to wear real loose clothing that their parents may not let them wear, but in a foster home they can wear whatever they want. The baggy pants and caps turned around. Foster parents do a great job at what they do, but it is different. A lot of teenage kids don’t want to go back to obeying their parents and will do things to end up back in foster care.”Jacob talking with a couple in the market place.

Siempre Padres Always Parenting
Ocampo worked with the Los Angeles Unified School District to create a parenting curriculum for Latino parents called Siempre Padres, Always Parenting. The course includes the laws on corporal punishment and positive discipline methods, acculturation, and guidance on how parents should interact with the schools, and most important, the need for parents to spend quality time with their children. One of Ocampo’s greatest regrets is that he was not able to spend quality time with his father. Like many, his father expressed his love by being a good provider, which meant working all hours to run a successful business. And like many modern parents, he came home exhausted and with little time left to spend with his children. Siempre Padres reminds immigrant parents, working hard to make it in the new culture, of the importance of setting aside time to be parents.Jacob shaking hands with the man in the previous picture.

“We get them to look at what type of interaction they are having with their children, how much quality time they are willing to devote, and for them to realize that will determine what type of relationship they will have with their children...People are getting lost working two jobs. They leave TV to educate their kids. Wake up in the morning, give them a breakfast bar, then to school. When school is over the kids go to after-school programs, and we don’t see them until we pick them up at 6:00 pm.” Ocampo knows the problem; as a social worker in LA county, working overtime, he has to struggle with his own schedule to be there for his own children– a regret that many children’s social workers express.