Spotlight on CCAS Child Protection Worker: Sang-Hee Park
At the Hope for Children Fund, we are fortunate to work alongside so many dedicated child protection workers whose mission is to improve the lives of the children, youth and families that we serve. Our workers step into each day with a sense of unpredictability; at any moment a family could be in immediate crisis and it is their responsibility to guide them through it. Ultimately, the actions that CCAS workers take in these emergencies with their clients, is pivotal in determining the best outcome for those affected.
Sang-Hee is a Child Protection Worker with the Child and Youth Services Department of the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto (CCAS), where she has worked for 10 years. Her current role sees her support Crown Wards of the Society – these are youth that have been removed from their biological family and are residing in foster homes, group homes or living independently.
Sang-Hee grew up in South Korea and graduated University with a degree in English Language & Literature, minoring in Social Work. She was drawn to the field of child welfare because of the inequalities that she experienced in the environment surrounding her. It was difficult for her to see such hardship, and she was determined to assist those experiencing barriers in their lives.
As she moved into her career in Canada, she quickly had to adapt to unpredictable work days. The moment an emergency happens with one of her clients, she drops everything to assist in minimizing the crisis. This not only affects her work life, but also her personal life, as Sang-Hee is also a mother to a 4 year old daughter.
Despite the daily challenges, Sang-Hee maintains, wholeheartedly, a desire to help her clients. The challenges her clients face are not viewed as insurmountable – they exist to provide opportunities for growth. She openly admits that the amount of time and energy she devotes to her youth, means at times, it can be disappointing to receive a phone call from a youth that was just arrested, or isn’t attending school; however, she meets them exactly where they are. She treats them as she would her own child. “It is through making mistakes and pushing boundaries that ultimately will allow them to move forward and grow,” says Sang-Hee. Sang-Hee is a strong believer that one person can ultimately change an individual’s life – and it’s clear that her work, at CCAS, is doing just that.
When asked if she ever goes above and beyond in her role, she humbly says “no”. She compares her job to her role as a mother, and as a mother nothing is going over and above, you just do everything you can for your children. She doesn’t put fourth this much effort in her career because it is required, she does it because she wants to see the best outcome for her clients.
When asked about the impact that the different funding programs have on her youth, Sang-Hee is quick to reflect on the Hope for Children Fund Scholarship Program. “A lot of the youth we work with tend to struggle academically, are preparing to age out of care, and do not have financial supports from family. Managing these three factors alone can be overwhelming for them. However, something as supportive as receiving a scholarship grant allows a youth to think, Okay, I can make this work.”
Sang-Hee acknowledges the tremendous impact Hope for Children Fund donors have on the youth she serves:
“I want the donors to know they truly are making a difference in the lives of the children, youth and families we serve. We work with people dealing with real life crises, and you are directly impacting the lives of these families. Donating towards a scholarship, for example, could very well change the outcome of a youth’s life. These youth are coming from an upbringing that is difficult to even comprehend and your donation offers hope and encouragement and that means so much to them.” – Sang-Hee Park