“My goal is to instill hopefulness in my clients,” says EBCLO Youth Advocate Social Worker Emily Rodgers. “Seeing the challenges families face and learning from them about the ways they support each other is really fulfilling. If I can help instill a sense of community and connectedness for families, then I’ve made a difference.”

And what a difference the social workers make at East Bay Children’s Law Offices. From day one, we knew that EBCLO could not accomplish vigorous and robust advocacy for children without a multi-disciplinary approach. Since that time, EBCLO has developed and grown the social work division into what it is today. EBCLO Clinical Director Dr. Ronald Kimmons says his supervision of the Youth Advocate Social Workers (YASWs) focuses on strengthening critical thinking, social and cultural
competence and collaboration between social workers and attorneys.

“We look at the whole picture and we bring a different perspective to the lawyers,” says YASW Lark Baum. “My education is understanding how people work. I identify the issues and then I figure out the context of where it came from. I look at the whole picture, and that’s what I like about my job.” This approach not only provides the attorneys a greater understanding of our clients, but it also strengthens our ability to empower our clients’ voices in court and to make the difficult choices we sometimes have to make about how to weigh in on certain issues. When the attorney and the social worker can share their observations, assessments and strategies, our clients win.

YASW Rachel Silver says her goal is to ask difficult questions that require difficult answers. She wants our clients to know that she will always provide them a safe place to talk and that nothing is off limits. Having grown up with a foster brother who her family later adopted, she was always so curious about the lady that came to visit every month. Now she is in that lady’s shoes and wants there to be no mistake about who she is and how she can help provide children and families with some of the resources they need to make it through some of the more challenging times.

EBCLO’s social work intern program also helps us maximize our clients’ access to social work support while also training the next generation of social workers. Dr. Kimmons and the social work staff supervise Masters in Social Work interns from UC Berkeley, San Francisco State University and now Cal State East Bay. CSUEB has lent a particularly local flavor with many of the students having grown up in the East Bay. In fact, EBCLO’s newest YASW, Christie De Guzman, is a CSUEB graduate and life long east bay resident. Christie says she became a social worker to make her community a better place. Serving our south county clients, Christie is already realizing her potential. “I can see how powerful it is to give kids a voice,” she says.