Social Work Month: Staff Profile – Tamica Hatchett, MSW
- March 11, 2020
Tamica Hatchett, MSW, Child Welfare Supervisor
Why did you get into social work?
When I was a child, my siblings and I were youth in care for seven years. Protective custody was taken after my mother disclosed her issues with addiction and we were placed with my maternal grandmother. In those seven years, I watched caseworker after caseworker threaten my grandmother with removal if she allowed our mother to come and see us. Several caseworkers would talk about my mother negatively in front of us. They made it very clear that they did not believe in my mother’s capacity to change and, because of this, I watched my mother lose hope in herself.
Even as a very young child, I recognized that my family’s experience with these caseworkers was not okay; that we deserved more support and positivity. I would often think to myself that, if I had the chance to work with children and families who were in the system, I would be nice to them and treat them with the respect and dignity they deserved.
As I got older, these thoughts were driven from my mind. I had a baby at 14 and another at 16. I spent the majority of my teenage years and 20s avoiding responsibility and making some pretty reckless decisions.
In 2012, at the age of 28, I was pregnant again, but this time I was also homeless. I decided then that it was time to make changes. I enrolled in school and thought long and hard about what I wanted to major in. I remembered my experiences and interactions with social workers as a child; some were good, but most were bad. I thought about how each positive and negative experience impacted my family and informed the decisions that were made. With that in mind, I made the decision to major in a field related to social work. I was determined to make a difference.
What do you like best about the work you do?
The best part about the work I do is seeing successful reunifications. Watching families overcome their obstacles and correct the conditions that brought their children into care is the one of the greatest feelings in the world.
What is the biggest challenge you face in your work?
The biggest challenge I face in my work is finding a healthy balance between my professional and my personal life. While I always encourage my staff to practice self-care and to leave work at work, I am not great about following my own advice. I have sacrificed time with my own family to ensure that parents and children are able to have visits. I have lost sleep worrying about barriers that families are facing and ways that we can help them overcome those barriers.
Please share a story that showcases why your hard work and the sacrifices are worthwhile.
A large part of my work involves advocating for families and identifying and addressing barriers. Doing this can sometimes mean the difference between a successful reunification and a child being placed in foster care long-term. Recently, I was a part of a child and family team meeting with a birth father that we held prior to case closure. During this meeting, the father cried and thanked me and his caseworker. Prior to our involvement, this father felt that the child welfare system was geared toward mothers only and he had all but given up hope of ever being reunified with his son. He stated that before we were on his family case, he was never even considered as a return home option for his son, despite the fact that he was not involved in the reason that his son came into care. He told us that, because of us, he was able to be the parent his child deserved. Situations like this one keep me going, even on my most difficult days.
Learn how you can support members of our child welfare team.