Practicum partner spotlight: Q & A with Maytal Michaelov, Jewish Family and Child Service of Greater Toronto (JF&CS)Categories: Alumni + Friends, Partners, Practicum, Q & A
Jewish Family and Child Service of Greater Toronto (JF&CS) is a multi-service agency that offers a variety of programs and services to support mental health and wellness within the Jewish community and beyond. The agency demonstrates continued commitment to increasing safety and security, reducing the effects of poverty, and improving the mental health and wellness of those in the community. With programs that include (but are not limited to) assistance for Holocaust survivors and Jewish children in need of culturally appropriate care, JF&CS provides support informed by the unique challenges and opportunities that are part of Jewish life.
We spoke to FIFSW alumna Maytal Michaelov to learn about the wealth of services that JF&CS offers, her role as Child Protection Worker, the learning opportunities that the agency provides students and the benefits of being a field instructor.
The FIFSW program really set me up for success with my practicums, as I was hired at Jewish Family and Child Service (JF&CS) about three weeks after graduating based on all of my relevant practicum experience at other agencies. I have now been at JF&CS for over five years, where I work as a Child Protection Worker.
How would you describe a typical day or week?
At JF&CS, there is a wide variety of services offered, so every social worker’s day looks completely different. As a child protection social worker, my role is to conduct investigations of reported child abuse and neglect within the Jewish community.
Since the onset of the pandemic, we have moved to a remote hybrid work model. Now, I am usually in the office twice a week and spend the other days meeting with families in the community. Office days are dedicated to catching up on paperwork and admin needs (such as case notes, consent forms, and court documents), while days in the community can take me into the evenings, as I meet with families once they are home from school and/or work.
Outside of psychosocial assessments conducted during my home visits, child protection social work often includes following up with multi-disciplinary teams. I make phone calls and take meetings with schools, medical professionals, therapists, lawyers, mediators, and other community clinicians who we work with to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children and families.
In addition to my daytime work, I am also a member of JF&CS’ Emergency After Hours Service team. For about one week each month, I am on call outside of regular business hours, answering our 24/7 phone line and responding to community members reported child welfare emergencies.
JF&CS offers a wide range of services. Could you tell us about a particular program or initiative that you are proud of?
As a multi-service agency, JF&CS offers support to vulnerable members of the Jewish and broader communities experiencing a spectrum of life challenges. The agency is sensitive and responsive to the ever-changing needs of our large and diverse community. Many JF&CS clients require support from more than one of our over 30 programs and services.
One program that has improved the lives of many of our clients is our Jewish camp subsidies program. The last few years have been challenging for everyone, and sending children to camp is a luxury that most of our clients cannot afford. However, in 2021, JF&CS sent 169 children and youth to summer camp. These subsidies provide children with a lot of fun and valuable life experiences.
Could you tell us about the practicum opportunities you offer students?
Jewish Family and Child Service offers social work students an enriching opportunity to complete a placement with the agency. Student interns observe and shadow workers and take on cases themselves in such areas as child welfare, agency counselling, and school social work, among others.
Students may also have the opportunity to co-lead our groups and workshops. The agency provides students with a multi-disciplinary experience where they can also shadow areas of the agency outside of their assigned practicum.
What advice do you have for someone who is considering becoming a Field Instructor?
Being a student supervisor requires dedication, time and enthusiasm. But it is also a rewarding and fulfilling experience. The many benefits include sharing your skills and knowledge, impacting future generations of social workers, giving back, an opportunity to reflect and hone your practice, and developing leadership skills and future career goals. A priority of mine when working with students is to ensure that they leave their practicum with some tangible work to show future employers, for example, creating resource guides or community brochures that they can put together throughout their practicum to supplement discussions of their experience.
How will JF&CS you celebrating or recognizing Jewish Heritage Month?
JF&CS recognizes and celebrates the many achievements and contributions to society made by Jewish people all year round. The agency has sent out internal communications to all staff that recognizes Jewish Heritage Month and offers up the unique opportunity to learn, share and celebrate the history and culture of Jewish Canadians.
In addition, JF&CS also posted on the agency’s social media accounts, encouraging the community to share their own stories and connections to the Jewish community worldwide.
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