On the Case: Weld County Caseworker Seeks to Understand the “Why” with Family-First Approach

When Bobby Lucero became a caseworker in Weld County, his primary goal was to “be a superhero.” To him, this meant holding families accountable and keeping children safe. Now, almost 12 years later, Bobby has recognized – and embraced – that there’s so much more to the job.

“I’ve realized my role is about working consistently with families to provide them with support and opportunities to better their lives—for themselves, for their children, for their entire family unit,” said Bobby.

As a Child Protection Response Senior Level Caseworker in Weld County, Bobby is one of the first touchpoints with a family. After a call is received through the state’s CO4Kids hotline, a report is generated, screened, then assigned to a response caseworker. That’s where Bobby comes in. When a case is assigned to him, he has one-on-one interviews with both children and their families to discuss what they’re going through.

“It’s not just about talking through that particular incident with families, it’s about really trying to figure out the comprehensive family history and what they’re struggling with,” said Bobby. “Then, it’s about figuring out how to best support them.”

Bobby has seen a big shift in child welfare practice over the past few years when it comes to placing more emphasis on understanding the “why” behind what is going on with a family. “This is a necessary component of helping to create a better future for families and better outcomes for youth,” he said.

This change in approach has led to more families being comfortable and transparent during the process. It’s reassuring for families to know that caseworkers truly want what’s best for their children and their family in the long run.

A permanency supervisor shared, “Bobby seems to truly care about the families he works with and wants what is best for them.” 

In addition to referring families to community resources and supports, Bobby helps families develop support plans so they can take a proactive role in their own safety and a plan for doing so. Bobby is particularly passionate about empowering young people to use their voice to speak up with adults they trust. Bobby has conversations with youth as young as 11- or 12-years-old, encouraging them to trust their gut instinct and tell a trusted adult – grandparent, aunt, uncle, neighbor – if something doesn’t feel right.

“Young people shouldn’t have to be responsible for their own safety, but many are self- aware enough to know if something is going on and have their voice heard,” said Bobby.

His supervisor, Ashleigh Titus, views Bobby’s out-of-the-box thinking and approach to working with families as one of his best attributes. “Bobby works hard to empower families to keep their children safe and not allow his practice to become stagnant by saying ‘this is what we’ve always done’ or ‘this is how we’ve always handled this,’” said Ashleigh.

Bobby is an active member of the Weld County Department of Human Services’ Safety Committee, where he is invested in keeping all employees physically safe, in addition to the multi-disciplinary (MDT) core team, where he works alongside medical professionals, law enforcement, human services and mental health professionals to conduct education and training in the community. Bobby’s supervisor says he takes all of his responsibilities seriously and strives for perfection.

One of the many reasons Bobby’s passion is fueled by his role is because of the relationships he builds with families. “One of the most critical components of my job, aside from child safety, is my ability to work alongside families,” said Bobby. “I always tell them ‘We are vested partners in your child’s future.’”

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