For Social Workers, Holidays Are A Juggling Act

By Alexandra Olgin
Published: Monday, December 28, 2015 - 4:15pm
Updated: Monday, December 28, 2015 - 4:17pm
(Alexandra Olgin KJZZ News)
Rivera delivered donated gifts to the Flores family a few days before Christmas.

For children and families involved in the child welfare system, the holidays can be tricky.

Wenonah Flores helps her 4-year-old relative open his Christmas gifts. The Lego set, toy cars and talking Elmo toy were donated by a local church. Flores is raising her cousin’s child. 

“Right now we don’t want to see my side of the family because he was my cousin’s child," she said. "We don’t want to have any problems with the way that I’m raising him and things like that. So that’s a hard thing, so we are just going to go to my husband’s side of the house.” 

Karina Rivera is social worker at Southwest Human Development, an organization that contracts with Arizona’s Department of Child Safety. She said it’s especially hard to see families on her caseload struggling around Christmas. 

“You get so close to your families that if they are in crisis you want to be there," Rivera said. "We are on break but if something happens I’m pretty much available to my families.”

Rivera handles several cases where children from other states come to live with extended or foster families in Arizona. She said some logistics come into play when families get together over the holidays.

“We contact the case manager and let them know family is traveling with child and they possibly might be in the presence of their biological parents if approved.” 

Rivera also signed up to help out at DCS during the holidays. The agency confirms it’s bringing in extra workers to help with the documentation work of inactive cases, but couldn’t provide any further details. 

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