Learning about child welfare services through a virtual internship
Jessi Nguyen, who is double majoring in international relations and education, spent Spring 2021 studying at the Philadelphia Center. Even though the program was virtual, and Jessi was in Vietnam, she was able to intern at the Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice and Research. Her essay, “Reflections on Interdisciplinary Child Welfare Practice from an International Student,” appears in the June 2021 issue of the Center’s News From the Field. Here’s an excerpt:
“As a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, I spent my junior year at Beloit College, where I am an international student, participating in virtual learning from halfway around the globe. I expected only midnight classes and academic discussions through monitors until I had the opportunity to sign up for The Philadelphia Center, an off-campus urban experiential program for students to earn college credit while living, learning, and interning in Philadelphia.
Though the program was virtual this year, my internship at the Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice and Research had a profound impact on my undergraduate experience. Working for the Field Center, I was offered unique opportunities in studying and learning about the American child welfare system, and I worked alongside accomplished professionals in this field.
Child Protective Services, or a child welfare system, is actually not a familiar concept in my home country, Vietnam. Thus, I started my internship with a free online course titled Creating an Effective Child Welfare System by the late Professor Richard J. Gelles, Field Center Founding Faculty Director.
One of my most essential takeaways from the course was the concept of a pendulum swinging back and forth between preserving children’s rights and parents’ rights while conceptualizing an effective system. I learned that the three ultimate targets of the child welfare system are the safety, permanency and well-being of children, thus protecting future generations.”