On the Case: Caseworker’s Childhood Inspires Her Passion for Supporting Families in El Paso County

December 15, 2022

Lisa Craig decided she wanted to become a caseworker when she was just 12 years old. That’s in large part because her parents were foster parents her entire life. Lisa was one of three biological children, and her parents fostered over 40 children and adopted two children.

“My sister was a child in foster care before my parents adopted her. Her caseworker made a huge impact in my life and I told my mom, ‘I’m going to be her one day!’” reflected Lisa. “I admired how she was so personable when she came to visit and she really took the time to address us as a family unit. I’ll always remember her.”

After receiving her degree in criminal justice, Lisa spent time in her early career as a probation officer for more than 10 years before working for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) of Tarrant County, Texas. Lisa joined the El Paso County Department of Human Services in 2019 as a lead caseworker and works on the Well Baby Court Program team, a voluntary program for parents with children between the ages of 0-3 who have an active dependency and neglect case.

“Our goal is to provide intensive, wraparound services for families depending on what that family needs in order to reunify as soon as possible,” said Lisa.

One recent case that stands out to her was a young child whose parents were impacted by substance use. As a result of the intervention, casework and services offered to these parents, both achieved sobriety within eight months. The child is now home with the parents and doing great.

“You just don’t know how you’re impacting people—and it may be a long time from before it really sinks in,” said Lisa. “I received a text recently from a mom I had contact with over a year ago letting me know how well she and her family are doing. That keeps you going.”

Another important element of Lisa’s role is helping to onboard, train and teach new caseworkers.

“Lisa shares her love of this work with new workers and provides them with realistic expectations of the work,” said Alyssa Morrow, Lisa’s supervisor at El Paso County Department of Human Services. “Lisa is always looking for ways that she can provide new learning opportunities to her peers and provides exceptional support in handling difficult situations, processing through emotions, thinking outside the box and pointing her peers in the right direction to find solutions on their own.”

Lisa always tells new caseworkers that while this job will be hard, it’s also very fulfilling. “I tell them that there will be hard days, but when you get those wins—it makes it all worth it.”

Lisa also stresses the importance of a team mentality when it comes to casework, and that it’s one of the ways she’s found success in her career. She teaches new caseworkers that whether it's them, the attorney, treatment provider or anyone else involved in the case, everyone must do their job to make the system work.

“The phrase I use is, ‘These cases are team sports and if we all work together, kids win,’” said Lisa. “I try every day to live that and not just say it.”

In addition to the fulfillment she finds in her work, Lisa’s favorite parts of the job are the benefits and the ability to interact with different kinds of people—both families and her peers. She finds strength in the comradery and support she receives from her supervisor and her coworkers.

“This job fills my cup,” said Lisa. “If you have a giving personality, this is a really good place for you.”

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