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I almost forgot to thank you for selecting me for the interview

By Paul Hawkins,2014-05-16 01:00
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Social Worker Uses TV Program to Help Find Permanent Homes. Will Wong of the DCFS Adoption Division Placement and Recruitment Unit, epitomizes the thorough

Social Worker Uses TV Program to Help Find Permanent Homes

    Will Wong of the DCFS Adoption Division Placement and Recruitment Unit,

    epitomizes the thorough social worker who not only uses his professional skills,

    but also uses research, common sense and just some good old fashioned

    hunches.

    “We must be creative and not afraid to draw ideas and expertise from

    other disciplines, explained Wong. Most importantly, Wong believes that social

    work cannot exist in a vacuum. Partnerships are the key to being an effective social worker.

    For the last five years, Wong has partnered with Fox 11 TV News Anchor

    Christine Devine to co-produce the Freddie Mac Foundation’s news spot “Wednesday‟s Child” which profiles older and special needs children or large

    sibling groups who are available for adoption. Devine describes Wong as

    tenacious. Wong said that working with the children on the segments has given him a better understanding of not only the kids themselves, but also the social

    work profession’s need to collaborate with the community at large.

    Wong becomes very animated when talking about “Wednesday‟s Child.

    In addition to finding permanent homes, it raises awareness about adoption and

    the need for adoptive parents. It also dispels rumors and stereotypes of foster kids. It also gets community partners involved including allowing the news spots

    to be videotaped in local businesses. The program would not have the impact it

    has if we did not have generous and strong community support, said Wong.

    “Will puts his heart into every „Wednesday‟s Child‟ shoot and takes true pride in every successful match. The program is the success it is because of

    Will‟s dedication and his excellent working relationships with the Freddie Mac

    Foundation and the crew at Fox 11 news,” said DCFS Recruitment Administrator

    Sari Grant.

    One of Wong‟s most memorable social work experiences involved a

    “Wednesday‟s Child” episode. A year ago, a sibling set of three turned into four

    when birth mom gave birth again on the eve of the older three's Wednesday's Child taping. There was a common opinion that DCFS could not find a home for

    all four children and that the baby should be separated to increase the chance for

    adoption.

    The group was presented together and was matched through

    Wednesday's Child. The adoption is scheduled to finalize before the end of this

    year. As with many large, sibling groups, the oldest sibling was the parentified

    child. Wong said, “It was refreshing to hear about him fighting and bickering with

    his younger siblings. Finally, he was re-claiming his own childhood. He gets to

    be a kid again.

    Adoption is not the only DCFS section that has benefited by Wong‟s work

    with “Wednesday‟s Child.” Wong explains that the Permanency Partnership

    Program (P3) and Mentoring have gained support simply by showing youth in

    need. Old connections have been rekindled when family or former caregivers

    see their children on the television. Others, while not interested in adopting,

    have decided to mentor after seeing a segment of the show. Before Wong took

over as DCFS liaison for the program, positive stories like these were not such a

    regular occurrence.

    Will Wong joined DCFS eight years ago. But social work was not in his

    initial life plan. Wong grew up on the tough south side of Chicago. He is first

    generation American-born of Chinese parents who fled communist China‟s

    Cultural Revolution. The streets were tough, but the tight knit Chinese

    community surrounding the Wong restaurant kept an eye on the latchkey

    youngster. Wong went on to earn a degree in political science and East Asian

    studies from the University of Illinois. It wasn‟t until he moved to Los Angeles

    that Wong became interested in social welfare.

    While writing grants and contracts for San Diego State University, Wong

    began doing volunteering with the Los Angeles Police Department Reserve

    Corps to network. Working in LAPD‟s “Youth At Risk” program, Wong found

    great meaning in helping set young people onto the right path. During this time,

    Wong began taking social work classes which brought greater perspective to the

    volunteer work he continued for 10 years. Concurrently, he was working in residential treatment at Leroy Haynes Center in LaVerne where Wong earned what he calls his “street degree” in social work. After four years there, Wong decided to get his MSW degree where he was in the first graduating class of

    California State University, Los Angeles. He came to DCFS as a Title IV-E Cal

    SWEC student.

    When not working hard at finding permanent homes for kids, Wong

    spends time going on photo safaris locally with his wife who is an artist and school teacher. He is also an avid freelance photographer who regularly lends

    his talents to Adoption and other department events.

    Will Wong plans on staying with DCFS for the long run. He hopes to

    continue his growth professionally and personally. The Department really does have a lot of various programs to explore and opportunities to do different

    things,” he said.

    For more information on “Wednesday‟s Child,” please call Will Wong at (626) 229-3783.

    ####

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