Kalyn Thayer is a Community Resource Specialist for KVC Kansas. In this role, she helps children by recruiting new foster and adoptive families in the Kansas City area. This interview highlights the positive experiences she’s had so far and the growing need for people to work in the child welfare field. Visit our Careers Page to learn about our current open positions.
What motivated you to pursue a career in social work?
My fiance has been involved in child welfare, so before I started with KVC, I would watch her help families and deal with crisis management and the multitude of things going on in these families’ homes. I thought that was super interesting, especially since I had never been exposed to foster care. On top of this, my fiance was adopted from Russia which also provided more motivation for me to get involved in helping children and families.
What has your experience with KVC Kansas been like?
It’s been great! I’ve had many opportunities to grow. I started as a Youth Care Specialist, and when the chance to recruit foster parents came up, I jumped at it because I love speaking about the needs of children who have experienced abuse, neglect and other family challenges. I enjoy sharing the fact that we need more foster parents in the community and finding resources for the kids in our care. I have really great leadership and they invest in our team, which has been very helpful since I feel supported in my role.
What do you find the most rewarding about your job?
I love getting to meet people from all types of backgrounds. I get to talk to someone who’s interested in helping kids every day, and that’s huge. Every person I get to talk to is a success story to me, even if they decide foster parenting isn’t the right fit for them, because they are still passionate about helping children.
What’s one of your favorite success stories you’ve experienced?
Recently we started a new, accelerated foster/adoptive parent training class (the curriculum is called TIPS-MAPP) that can be completed in just two weekends instead of the standard 10-week schedule. In one of the classes I was teaching, one of the participants was a police officer who was on the fence about becoming a foster parent. From the start of the class to the very end, I got to watch his mind just become completely changed. He came to me when he completed the class and told me, “You’ve inspired me so much that you’ve changed the way I think about and do my job.” That was huge to me and very rewarding to see.
As a foster parent recruiter, what types of people usually express interest in fostering?
People from all walks of life express interest and qualify to become a foster parent. Earlier today, I spoke with a woman who’s 71-years-old and wants to foster and she was concerned that she was too old. I told her that you can be any age (as long as you’re over 21) and she was thrilled. It’s different every day which is one reason my job is always interesting. You can be single or married, own or rent your home, work outside the home or stay home, and have children already or not. We need all kinds of people to care for the children and teens needing foster care.
Do you have any advice for someone considering child welfare social work as a career?
We need more social workers! We need more people willing to go into this field, even if it’s not the easiest job. I’d recommend being open minded and always remember that it’s extremely rewarding.