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A couple of women standing in front of a painting Description automatically generated with low confidenceSocial Worker Appreciation Month and Women's History Month

"I understand this work because I did it …. Yet I can never understand because I didn’t do it during a pandemic." Cmsr V Dorantes

That was the crux of the conversation we had with the amazing staff in the Norwalk office where we visited last week. They candidly shared challenges they experience and expressed appreciation for each other as they navigate these trying times. We were grateful for the time we spent hearing from our colleagues. In this month's "Spotlight on What's Right" newsletter, we highlight career Social Worker Yolanda Chapman-Smith and her incredible strength as she leads the Norwalk Office.

While in Region 1, Director of Immigration Services, Jennifer Avenia, Esq. facilitated a mtg with the leadership of two advocacy groups CIRI (CT Institute for Refugees & Immigrants) and IRIS (Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services) to discuss our work with undocumented families and unaccompanied minors.

As a career Social Worker, I appreciate those of you pouring into the next generation of change agents like Bureau Chief Ken Mysogland at Sacred Heart University and Waterbury SWS Maria Cosgrove. I visited with her students at the UCONN School of Social Work & I'll be talking to another BSW class next week at CCSU.  The US Dept of Health and Human Services (HHS)Administration for Children & Families (ACF) broke barriers as it hosted the '…first federally-sponsored national conference solely devoted to creating an inclusive human services delivery system and will serve as the nation’s leading educational event for practitioners, advocates, and researchers within the field,' where I was honored to present our anti-racist framework on a panel discussion towards advancing racial justice and equitable outcomes.

In service to others, we are moved by the circumstance of Ryan Poudrier and Megan Dydo as they recount how they overcame significant substance misuse to now leading a life they at one point never imagined possible. "It is hard not to smile and be grateful," stated Ryan when talking about his two boys. Megan's passion is to share her "experience and story" to inspire others to make changes in their own life.

A person speaking into a microphone Description automatically generated with medium confidenceThanks to the staff in the Transitional Supports and Success team for putting on the fantastic "Beyond All Limits" Transitional Age Youth (TAY) Leadership Forum. An excellent opportunity to understand the supports and services offered to our youth, innovative practices and the collaborative efforts with various community partners across the state.

A group of people sitting at a table Description automatically generated with medium confidenceSpeaking of collaboration…… Senior Leaders and I met with the Connecticut Education Association (CEA) to have a "candid conversation" to discuss our work with education professionals è CEA Conversation

In March, we also celebrate Women's History Month.

A group of women posing for a photo Description automatically generated with medium confidenceAs co-chair of the Governor's Council on Women and Girls with Lt Gov Susan Bysiewicz, we continue to advocate for gender parity in pay, promotions and the inclusion of women across systems. With great pride, I stood with colleagues from all three branches of CT state government on International Women's Day to further highlight the dynamic women leaders serving Connecticut.

Finally, this past weekend, we continued to highlight the powerful stories of women breaking barriers at Atneciv Rodriguez Executive Leadership LLC.'s Women in Leadership conference where I spoke on an amazing panel, spent time with female entrepreneurs and even got to meet the 2023 CT Teacher of the Year -- Carolyn Kielma who is also a finalist for National Teacher of the Year!

PHEW …What a month!!! My heart remains full of gratitude for Social Workers inside and outside of DCF who each day address the structural, systemic and intergenerational barriers which prevent individuals and families from reaching their fullest potential. Our work is not only hard work but "heart work".   As we serve others, we must pay close attention to our own needs and those of our families. Supports are always available through Deer Oaks EAP or by contacting Lenisa.Mathew@ct.gov.