December 15, 2022
Meet Our Multidisciplinary Team Support from CPS, Sara Hillis
As our CPS assessment supervisor, Sara is a Muskingum County local with a passion for keeping children safe and supporting family systems. She has her social work degree from Mount Vernon Nazarene University and has been with Muskingum County Adult and Child Protective Services since 2010.
In 2018, she became a supervisor with the agency, spending some time in the intervention unit before moving to assessment. The assessment unit is the “front door” of the agency, conducting all abuse and neglect investigations. It is a huge benefit to have her support for our team!
Continue reading to learn more about Sara’s impact and her incredible work.
Q: Can you share the types of children you see at CPS?
A: The agency serves children who have come to the attention of CPS by an allegation of abuse, neglect, or dependency, and on occasion unruly delinquency. Some children have been exposed to domestic violence, substance use, significant mental health problems that prevent parents from meeting basic needs, and environmental hazards. Some children have been physically or sexually abused by relatives or non-relatives.
Q: Can you explain how a child, working with a CPS caseworker, may come to have an appointment at Heroes Landing?
A: If a family comes to the agency’s attention due to sexual abuse, and in some cases physical abuse, that child needs to complete a forensic interview and a SANE exam. The forensic interview is conducted so that a child does not have to repeatedly tell their story.
Once it is determined that a forensic interview is needed, agency staff will reach out to Heroes Landing to schedule an appointment.
Q: What does the interaction between your team and Heroes Landing look like?
A: The interaction between our agency and Heroes Landing is always very positive and it is evident that we share the same goals for the child.
Prior to Heroes Landing coming to Muskingum County, families were referred to out of county child advocacy centers so the forensic interviews could be completed. This at times created barriers for families due to lack of transportation, coordinating school or work schedules, and financial hardship.
Now that Muskingum County has a child justice center, the families no longer need to travel out of county.
Q: How is the multi-disciplinary approach different than other organizations you work with?
A: The multi-disciplinary approach has been a great asset to the community in which we serve. Holding the monthly meetings with local law enforcement, Heroes Landing staff, and agency staff to discuss the cases and their progress has been a huge help in ensuring families get the services that they need. Children who have been victimized by sexual abuse or physical abuse often require medical follow ups and counseling.
Q: This work is stressful and traumatic. How do you manage it?
A: Working in child welfare can be stressful and traumatic at times. Many staff experience secondary trauma as well. Debriefing cases with coworkers is one of the best ways to cope. I have found that if you are not in the field or a related field, it is often difficult to understand the everyday stress that comes with the job.
The agency also has a local counselor that comes in on a regular basis to help process the trauma and stress. Practicing self-care is also very important in this job, like finding ways to relax and have fun at the end of the day.
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