Juvenile Probation or Police Officer?
I grew up wanting to be many different occupations. From a radio announcer, to an interior designer, to undecided, to a lawyer, to an accountant, to a Juvenile Probation Officer, and now, a police officer. I went into my internship thinking that I wanted to be a Juvenile Probation Officer. I landed my internship at Brown County Human Services as a Resource Development for Diverse Populations Intern. The biggest projects and work I would be doing is developing a list of counselors/therapists in the Green Bay area, writing grants for the Pals Program, becoming a Pal in the Pals Program, and supervising court ordered supervised visits. The Sophie Beaumont building is where I spent most of my time in the first few weeks of my internship. It is the building right across from the Brown County Court House if you’re ever in the area and are looking for where Human Services is located.
The first few weeks of my internship were quite unorganized. They didn’t have projects or jobs to do so I and some of the other interns were barely getting any hours in. I was worried that I would have a hard time meeting the 150-hour requirement. Eventually, my supervisor got into the swing of things and had jobs for us to do. While I was mainly at the office, I did a Pals home visit, went to a Pals Parent dinner, and went to the court house to watch court proceedings. It wasn’t the most exciting of times at the office, but I did what I was told. After a few weeks, a social worker asked if I could help out at the Family Center on Monday evenings. The Family Center is located behind Starbucks on Military/Mason St. I couldn’t find a picture of just the Beacon Center where the center is located. You can (kind of) see the Beacon Center sign to the right of Starbucks.
The Family Center consists of three rooms where families come to have their supervised visits. Each visit must have someone supervising it and if that person is an intern, they have to write up a report on how the visit went. If it’s a good visit, then your report will be short. But if it’s a bad visit and there are concerns, your report will be longer than normal. This place became my home after the first few weeks in the office. As I am still doing my internship as I write this, I am at the center Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I supervise two visits on Monday’s, two visits on Wednesday’s and three visits on Friday’s. It has kept me super busy and has helped my hours out tremendously as I have already hit my 150-hour mark with 3 weeks left. The center is where I have learned the most. I have learned about how the CPS (child protection services) system works, I have learned about why families are at the center for supervised visits and most importantly, I have learned how to handle these types of clients and their demeanors. I was happy when I learned I would be at the center for the most of my internship because it fit in with what I wanted to do with my career. If I went into parole/probation, I would have been handling these types of clientele. It was the perfect opportunity to get the experience I needed to go into my dream field. Most of the parents for my visits are respectable, but I do have a few where I have to intervene when they are doing something wrong. Or if they show up late and I have to tell them their visit is cancelled. That is one difficult thing about this internship. Every time I have to intervene or tell a parent their visit is cancelled because they don’t show up on time, it does not get any easier. Their reactions are hard to predict sometimes and they more than likely end up not liking you because you kept them from seeing their child.
Another part of my internship is I became a Pal in the Pals Program. You can check out what they do here. I would highly recommend becoming a Pal if you have the time. There are over 70 kids on the waiting list, waiting for a Pal. It’s a great volunteer opportunity and you can change a kid’s life. What could be better?!
As soon as I heard about the Pals Program, I instantly wanted to sign up and become a positive influence in a kid’s life. I had met a girl named Abbey (I have changed her name) while doing a Pals monthly activity. She and I hit it off right away and my supervisor asked me if I wanted to become her Pal. I, of course, said yes. She is a 11-year old girl who lives in Green Bay. As a Pal, I meet with Abbey 2–3 times a month and just do whatever. So far we have gone to the dog park, went to Xtreme Air, and played Monopoly. There are also Pals monthly activities that I get to bring her to. Things such as mini golf, bowling, Christmas parties, etc. I’m someone that is a positive influence in her life and she can talk to me when needed. Becoming a Pal has definitely been my favorite part of my internship. Except when my Pal puked all over the backseat of my car. She had eaten too much pizza at the bowling activity and it made her sick. My boyfriend was a saint and cleaned up my car. Brown County also reimbursed me to have the backseat of my car cleaned at PDQ. Needless to say, I hope that never happens again. I was ready to vomit myself. I also talked my boyfriend, Brendan, into becoming a Pal. He is super excited to start. Hopefully his pal never pukes in his car.
During my internship, I also finished up a Word document that has a huge list of counselors/therapists located in the Green Bay area. The list consists of their specialities and what insurances they take. It was important that the majority of the people I had on there took Medicaid as an insurance. The majority of the families working with Human Services had Medicaid as their insurance. I am also in the middle of writing a grant for the girls of the Pals Program. My supervisor wants the girls to have a chance to go to a camp of their choosing with the grant money. The grant is from the Women’s Fund of Greater Green Bay.
What I found most surprising during my internship was the amount of families that are involved with CPS and what they did to get themselves in that situation. I have always known that child abuse is a real thing and that it occurs, but not in the ways that I have learned about from the social workers. I read this article from The Atlantic. It explains a lot about the statistics of child abuse and other useful information that goes along with it. I also found another article here that talks more about statistics. Another thing that was difficult about the internship was watching kids be disappointed or upset when their parents didn’t show up for the visit or were late so it had to be cancelled. It’s frustrating when parents know what time they have to show up but continue to show up late every week. These kids really want to see you. Show up on time! It’s also frustrating when they don’t show up at all yet don’t call to let you know they’re not coming. It’s a waste of the kid’s time, my time, and the drivers time who got them there.
When it comes to linking my internship to my experience at UWGB, what immediately comes to mind is my Senior Seminar class that I’m taking right now. The class is on 5 different social movements that have happened over the past however many years. The other 4 social movements don’t really apply to my internship, but one does and that’s welfare rights. We read The Battle for Welfare Rights by Felicia Kornbluh. The book talks about how mainly woman really had to fight for their rights to have the basic necessities for their families. A lot of the families I supervise cannot afford the basic necessities to live a day to day life. I have one mom who has stolen soap and toilet paper out of the Family Center bathroom twice now. I have another mom who took out a loan (a high interest loan) to pay her rent. From an article I read, it states that “the idea that our constitution guarantees affirmative rights to social and economic welfare has for some time been out of fashion” (Liu 2008). We, as a society, have strayed away from thinking that people should always have social and economic welfare. We think that you should work hard to get what you need, not have it handed to you. But what people don’t talk about is that these moms have jobs and are working. And they still can’t afford what they need to live. How sad is that? I found a scholarly article written by Kornbluh stating that “the goals of adequate income, justice, dignity, and democracy may have seemed difficult for welfare recipients and their allies to achieve in 1966. Today, they seem almost irremediably far-off. It is likely that we will have no choice but to spend our time in coming months fighting rearguard actions against state welfare programs that race to the bottom in implementing the TANF program” (Kornbluh 1998). I find it sad that these women fought for welfare rights already and now we are still having problems with welfare.
Another important topic that links to my internship is the drug and alcohol problem this country has. The majority of my visits are because the parents have a problem with one of these things or both of them. Some of them can’t afford their basic necessities because they are spending their money on drugs and alcohol rather than what they need to live. Please check out this article on the drug problem in the United States. It’s crazy that the majority of the families that are on court ordered supervised visits have drug/alcohol problems. Some people may not think it affects your parenting, but it does. CPS will get involved and your kids will be taken away. I even supervise a highly functional alcoholic, yet her child was still taken away. In a JStor article that I found, it states that “studies show that alcohol and other drug users are far less productive than non-users, use three times as many sick days, are more likely to injure themselves or someone else, and are five times more likely to file worker’s compensation claims” (Galvin, Miller, Spicer, Waehrer 2007). This is exactly why your kids will be taken away. They are more likely to hurt someone else. They can be a danger to their kids. It would be helpful if there was more help available to the people with these problems. One article states “we arrest 1.2 million people every year for “simple possession” of illegal drugs in violation of state laws” (Bonnie 2001). Instead of making these parents more depressed by the legal system, they should be offering them help so they can get their kids back. The world would be a better place and the kids woul be a lot happier to have their parents back.
This internship has been quite the learning experience. It has taught me what it may be like to be a parole/probation officer. But there’s a question in my title. I recently decided that I want to become a police officer. I applied with the City of Green Bay last Sunday and am waiting to hear back. My internship made me realize I want to be more on the front lines of the work instead of behind the scenes. Hopefully everything turns out.
Bonnie, R. (2001). Reforming United States Drug Control Policy: Three Suggestions. Social Research, 68(3), 863–865. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.uwgb.edu:2048/stable/40971917
Deborah M. Galvin, Miller, T., Spicer, R., & Waehrer, G. (2007). Substance Abuse and the Uninsured Worker in the United States. Journal of Public Health Policy, 28(1), 102–117. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.uwgb.edu:2048/stable/4498944
Kornbluh, F. (1998). The Goals of the National Welfare Rights Movement: Why We Need Them Thirty Years Later. Feminist Studies, 24(1), 65–78. doi:10.2307/3178619
Liu, G. (2008). Rethinking Constitutional Welfare Rights. Stanford Law Review, 61(2), 203–269. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.uwgb.edu:2048/stable/40379685