Pros: non-profit, regular salary increases, electronic medical records, ability to work from home, relocation opportunities, resume builder, competitive pay for the social services field, average caseload of 4-6 families, networking opportunity
Cons: potentially long drive times, wear on tear on vehicle, high burn out rates in the field, weekday on call, sometimes demanding, weekend on call schedule with quarterly rotation, case loads can fluctuate based on peers, i felt stuck in my role, some unsafe neighborhoods and areas
The normal pay for an entry level position with a MSSW (or any masters in a social science field) is around 32,000 (used be 30,000 when I started.) The company is a non-profit so the pay scale is standardized, BUT you have the opportunity to earn raises UP TO 2,000 every 6 months onto your annual income. THAT'S HUGE in the mental health/non-profit/social – more... work field. It just is. Complain if you must, but it's true. Everyone has to start somewhere, and if you are in the social services field for the money... RUN (because you are mistaken.) This job takes heart. I worked as an in home counselor and then was promoted to do clinical assessments. I moved to another company because I wanted to be challenged in a different environment and to grow professionally. Do I make more money now than I would if I would have stayed at YV? No way, but that's the career field. A typical day was never "typical." As an in home counselor I would drive all over the region for my set appointments with families and/or schools to ensure that 3 sessions per week were held, BUT if there is some sort of crisis or emergency (even if the kid is in the ER for a health emergency) you are responsible for responding as quickly as possible. In the position, you are a support for the kid and family as well as a professional liaison between the family and other service providers and/or DCS and are in the home 3+ times a week for a minimum of 3-4 months. It's rewarding and frustrating, but what kind of job in this field isn't? I learned SO MUCH and am grateful for it. The paperwork sometimes seemed overwhelming, but (AGAIN) it's necessary in mental health/social services. If you don't document it... it didn't happen; therefore the service is not billable. Simple. I learned skills that a classroom could never teach me including putting CBT, DBT, and other therapy styles into practice. I also learned ESSENTIAL organizational and time management skills in a professional setting. I was eventually promoted to a supervisory level position doing assessments to get the kids and families the services they needed (whether it was with YV or not... and I very much respected YV for that), covering cases for counselors when they were out, and doing site visits with the counselors to help with their development and increase their skill sets. One of the most frustrating things for me personally was that I felt "stuck" in that position because I was told "you are just too good at these assessment and developing staff" when I would apply for an internal posting for another position. The feeling of being stuck, although it was because I did well, ultimately led to my departure from YV and that was unfortunate. The bottom line for YV is that it's about the family. It is SO different than "for profit" companies and it shows.
Yes, the hours CAN BE long, but the key is this... if you are GOOD at your job, yes, you will probably have some unavoidable crises (especially right after you admit a family) BUT if you do your job well you will be giving that family the tools that they need to be successful and handle situations before they even earn "crisis status." Also, you set your own appointments and you do your paperwork when you schedule it into your week. If you are on top of things then you will have ample free time to have fun, have a life, and have a family (traditional or made up of friends). It's up to you. If you are good at your job you will flourish and the "crisis" situations will be few and you will be successful. Some of the areas where teh client's homes are located can be a little scary (subsidized housing communities where you, as a professional, obviously do not fit in, extreme rural areas where your cell service may not work, or drives that can be an hour one way.) You do, however, get paid for your mileage and get a small amount monthly to help offset your cell phone costs.
I had amazing co-workers and I met some of my very best friends for life through YV. My supervisors (in addition to upper management) were appropriate and mostly helpful when I needed that support. I am grateful for the experience and I attribute the success that I have today as a therapist/counselor to Youth Villages (hands down). Oh! and my documentation is "rockstar quality" and I owe that to the high standards at YV. (and conference is a blast)
I'd do it again, honestly, if my current endeavors did not work out. It's a good job in a challenging field.
MY explanatory "pros"- true non-profit company, encourages self-care, regular salary increases, electronic medical records (this is a big deal if you have been at places that don't), access to electronic medical records from home, opportunities to move all over the US, looks AMAZING on a resume if you are able to stick around over 6-12 months, competitive pay for the social services field, average of 4-6 kids on a case load (which is actually quite low for CCFT), great networking opportunity (especially for someone fresh out of school or new to the area)
MY explanatory "cons"-potentially LONG drive times, possibility for burn out (just like any other social service job), some sleepless nights if you have a child/family in crisis, occasional weekend "on call" approximately quarterly, case loads can be temporarily high when there is increased illness or un-filled positions in the office, most people use their personal cell phones for their work phone which CAN create some issues for SOME people, I felt STUCK in my position because I did it "too well, " – less