2006 PCIG Recipient Tracy Barry-Austin

UVA Career Center – August 1st, 2006

Tracy Barry-Austin
College of Arts & Sciences
Sociology
2007 Graduation Year

Internship: Family Connections in in Orange, NJ.

Notes on the first week

I am interning with a program within the organization Family Connections. The program I am working with is called PrePare. I will be working with clinicians who go into pre-schools and work with at risk children. When I say “at risk” I mean these children have issues in their lives that may halt them succeed — issues like abuse, incarcerated parent(s), being taken from the home by the system, etc. The clinicians also go in looking out for any developmental problems that may be seen during their sessions with the children. The clinicians then make sure the children and parents get the necessary aid to help these children.

Up until today, I have only been having meetings preparing me for what I would be doing with the clinicians. Yesterday, we had a “Prevention Team” meeting in which I met the rest of the people I would be working with. After actually meeting my team members and getting a full, detailed description of what I would be doing, I realized that this internship is perfect for me because this is exactly what I am working towards doing in my future. This made me really excited; I could not wait to actually get into the pre-schools to work with the children.

Today I was able to go into one of the pre-schools and see what the clinicians do with the children and was told what my role would be. Because I am not a certified clinician and due to confidentiality, I will not be able to sit in on one-on-one sessions with the children and on meetings with parents. My duties include helping with the clinician’s curriculum (i.e. lessons on violence, etc) and sitting in on group sessions. Another duty they assigned to me was to make a resource guide for parents. This resource guide will include helpful parenting tips and advice on dealing with different developmental issues. This guide will also have necessary contacts (i.e. hospitals) for the parents if needed.

Many think that because these children are so young in age they have time to get their issues addressed, but this age is a turning point for these children. Because they are so impressionable, they are more likely to take onto the help they are given. Often, when people decide it is time to intervene and give help to these children, it is already too late. If their issues get addressed early on, it only helps the child be more successful. It is a great feeling for a child to know they can count on you; and it is a great feeling for you to know that a child is on a path of success because of your help.

Things have been really slow starting up, but now that I have started I am very excited to get things moving. Tomorrow is my first day with the children and I can’t wait!

Midway

It is already a month into my internship and I love it. In the beginning it was a little slow because I was meeting the different people in Family Connections (the organization the program I am interning is under) and doing a bunch of training. Now I am in the pre schools seeing what goes on and everything is going great.

I am in three different pre schools. Two are Head Start schools and the other is an Abbott school. Head Start is “a comprehensive child development program that serve children from birth to age 5, pregnant women, and their families. They are child-focused programs and have the overall goal of increasing the school readiness of young children in low-income families.” Abbott is a program in which New Jersey is the first state in the nation to implement a court-mandated public preschool program. It is a program which is required to offer all three and four year old children in New Jersey’s lowest-income school districts — now known as the Abbott districts – a “well-planned, high quality” preschool program, as a part of its constitutional obligation to provide every child with a “thorough and efficient” education under the New Jersey Constitution.”

I have gotten to go into the classrooms to observe the children, read and discuss the books from the social worker’s curriculum, sit in on their Second Step lessons with the social workers, sit in on a one on one session, and just hang out with the cutest faces ever! It is wonderful how these children warm up to you and are able to trust you from the start. Majority of these children will remember my name every time I come back to their site, and this is with me being at each site only once a week! Seeing them run to hug me and to tell me what’s new in their life is part of why I love working with these children.

Final Reflections

My last couple of days were really busy. The head coordinator of PrePare gave me one more important task that she needed help on. Since she was moving onto a different program she needed my help finding ways to let families in the area she was working in know about this new program coming to their area. Her new program — “Rise & Shine,” which is pretty much the same thing as PrePare, but it opens the program up to children 0 through 5. So, not only will they have the curriculum with the 3 to 5 year olds, but also they will have the “Mommy and Me” curriculum for the 0 to 3 year olds. To get the word out Rise & Shine will be having a fair for the families. My job was to find businesses in the area and to help with organizing the fair.

Another interesting thing I was able to be a part of was going to the agency’s victimization meeting. This was a meeting they have periodically where they have an expert clinician come in and help anyone with a difficult case they were working on. I was lucky to hear of a case with one of the social workers I was working with and see the different ways to approach that kind of situation. I also had the chance to hear a difficult case outside of my particular scope. It was a case of a young women dealing with domestic violence. That was quite interesting.

Other than that, I was up to the same thing with the two other social workers — going into the schools working with my most favorite people… the kids! One thing I realized was that children get attached quickly and love a new face. Although I was not there that long, these children could tell me what I had on the first day I came and remembered my name and everything! What got me was that they remembered all this with me coming in their classroom only once a week! I was always welcomed with hugs and “Hello Ms. Tracy”, and that just brightened my day. That is one thing I am going to miss now that my internship was over. I definitely realized this is what I want to do in the future, and definitely can’t wait to get started on my process.

I appreciate all that I have learned and gained through this internship. The social workers were a definite help in helping me decide what it was that I wanted to do and then with the process in getting that started. Another great thing was that they asked me to come back next summer to help them out! All in all, I was happy to gain this experience and get to work with these social workers. I think I would still be confused of where I would be in the next couple of years if I hadn’t done this internship. All I know is that I think I have found something that I will be great at and would definitely love to do!