When you embark on a career serving children and families in foster care, you don’t expect you’ll ever be featured in Forbes. You don’t imagine that you’ll have the latest technology and equipment, and you certainly don’t expect to work 9-5.

But, you do dream of the impact you will make. Showing a child how strong she is. Building the confidence of a mom who’s experienced more darkness than light. Bringing hope to your community.

Case management and social work are driven by passion. For most of us, it’s a calling that allows us to live our values every day.

For me, the values shared by CHS rang true to my own – Caring, Integrity, Respect, Commitment, Leadership and Excellence. These are the things I want not just for my career in child well-being, but also for the kids and families I serve every day.

The kids come first at CHS. They are our #1 priority and investment. That also comes with the understanding that we — as an organization – do not come first. We tend to put our needs on the back burner and focus our efforts on supporting families at all costs.

Recently, however, CHS reminded the front line team in Tallahassee how valuable our role truly is.

Our Dependency Case Management team was working every day with outdated equipment. Our computers were getting older and less reliable, and the struggle got harder and harder. In many cases, our equipment was older than the children on our caseloads.

Why? Because children needed services. We needed to invest in kids first – just as we always do and always will.

Getting new equipment was definitely on our wish list … because we knew it would help us better help kids. When we expressed our wish for new computers, we knew there wasn’t budget for 39 new laptops. We didn’t have a donor, a sponsor or a fairy godmother to help us. On top of all that, it’s hard to ask for resources for yourself, when your day is structured around supporting others.

But, CHS found a way.

Where we saw a burden, CHS saw an opportunity to better serve our children. Our IT department got creative, our leadership listened and, collectively, CHS invested nearly $60,000 to make our request a reality.

A new work computer is something others may take for granted; however, in child welfare – a world where the fax machine still reigns supreme – this was a significant investment in how we can serve families. And, it showed me that CHS means it when they say “front line first.” We received 39 brand new laptop computers that also function as tablets. In a word, it was AWESOME!

As the COVID-19 outbreak spread, CHS closed offices on March 19.  Today, I can’t imagine how hard our work would be if we were relying on those outdated desktops. The ability to remain mobile has not only helped to protect our team members, but helped us better connect with our families during these unprecedented challenges.

With our new computers, it has definitely allowed case management to work effectively from home including conducting meetings via secure networks, and allowing for us to practice self-care while safely serving our families.

Together, we are staying safe and still doing good.