As one of West Michigan Partnership for Children’s Care Coordinators, Ellie Galas works directly with WMPC’s partner agency, Catholic Charities West Michigan.
Continue reading to learn more about Ellie Galas:
What is your role at WMPC? What are your responsibilities in this role?
I am one of WMPC’s care coordinators, and I do a little bit of everything, but my main focus is providing technical assistance around policies and practice to ensure the best interests of the child. I am specifically the main point of contact with WMPC’s partner agency, Catholic Charities West Michigan.
As the main point of contact, I help caseworkers with requests for services, and I’m the person they can reach out to if they have any questions. I also look at difficult cases from a broad systems perspective to see if there is anything WMPC can do to break through barriers to meet the goals for the child or family, or help the overall foster care system improve.
I also represent WMPC on the Foster Kent Kids coalition where we focus on the best ways to retain our amazing foster parents as well as develop create ways to recruit new families.
What is the most rewarding part about your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is having the opportunity to impact the lives of children and families right in my community. I am very passionate about trauma research and best practices in child welfare. I especially love to hear about a case where a family or child found the support and help they needed in a time of pain and crisis. I feel blessed to be a part of (and work in) a community that wraps around others in times of need.
On the flip side, what is the most challenging part about your job?
The most challenging part of my job is that change takes time. My goal is that someday every foster family would have everything they need to be successful, which is challenging when there is so much need at this time.
As a brand new start-up, what inspired you to want to work for WMPC?
I wanted to work somewhere I could make the most difference and I believe I found it.
WMPC represents all of the ways I hope the child welfare system could work – by utilizing research and evidence, always willing to grow and change, incorporating many different voices, and seeking to be a helping factor within the entire system.
What is one thing you wish people knew about foster care?
I wish that people knew that it takes a village. Some people are quick to assume things about families within the foster care system, which aren’t necessarily truthful or fair.
The families we work with are responding to the trauma they have experienced in very understandable ways. The good news about trauma is that we can heal from it, but it takes work, time, and a lot of supportive relationships.
How has your position at WMPC and your experience in the nonprofit industry changed your perspective?
I am so profoundly impacted by the work that I do with trauma. It has taught me to see people’s behavior as a form of communication, and to step back and give everyone the benefit of the doubt. You never know someone’s struggles or story until you walk the road with them and truly let them take the lead down that path.
I see people walking difficult paths just to help others, and it gives me hope.
What is your hope for WMPC and the Kent County foster care system?
I hope that we are able to build a community where every child has a loving, trauma-informed home, and strong support system while they find premenancy. I hope we can learn ways to prevent children and families from experiencing trauma, and continue to improve our response for helping those who need the most support.
I hope that we can build a system where birth families, foster families, kinship caregivers, and adoptive caregivers can all get all of the supports that they need for themselves, and for the children they care for. I hope that we can support and recognize the amazing workers who show up in the face of trauma and pain every day and say “how can I help?”
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
To learn more about how to be part of our community of support, check out our Foster Kent Kids web page or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To get in touch with Ellie, please email: email@example.com