Job Alert: Pandemic Leaves Great Oaks Village in Need of Counselors for Foster Children and Young Adults
Working virtually became the norm during the COVID-19 pandemic, and many remote workers want to keep it that way. This has created a challenge for businesses and organizations in need of in-person staff as they attempt to fill critical positions. Such is the case with Great Oaks Village, an Orange County residential foster group home for children ages 6 to 18+ who have been removed from their homes by the State of Florida due to abuse, neglect or abandonment.
Counselors are desperately needed on site, as they play a crucial role at Great Oaks Village, which requires its clinicians to come in every day and provide support and counseling to those who live there. And it has put them at a disadvantage.
“A lot of counselors are able to do telework right now, so it’s not easy to get people to come into the office every day,” explained Tracey Salem, Ph.D., Orange County Youth and Family Services Manager. “Having our clinicians on site is important because our kids live here and are required to attend counseling sessions – individually, in groups and with their families – as part of our service modality.”
Salem and her dedicated staff have provided residents with unconditional love and support, as well as an environment in which they can thrive and grow. Counselors are a critical component to this, as one of the goals of the home is to get the mental health taboo out of kids’ heads so they feel comfortable with getting the counseling they need.
“With youth and families, providing a clinical foundation to healing is critical, and we need the right clinicians in order to be able to provide that service,” asserted Salem. “The counselors who have stayed on are working a lot harder, but my fear is if we continue to be short-staffed, they’re going to burn out.”
Great Oaks Village is looking to hire Masters-level clinicians with a focus on clinical social work, mental health and/or marriage and family counseling. Applicants don’t have to be licensed, although having a license is a plus.
“Our counselors are part of the build-in process; they have to be creative and build rapports with these kids, talk to them as friends … not always in ‘sessions’ but simply in conversation,” said Salem. “I would say to a new hire that this is an extremely demanding job but also an extremely rewarding one. You’ll feel a strong sense of purpose helping kids who have experienced abuse and trauma get emotionally healthier.”