On The Case: Fremont County Caseworker Answers Calling to Support Families

December 28, 2022

As an undergraduate student at the University of Denver, Molly Willard had her sights set on becoming a lawyer. She double majored and earned a bachelor of arts degrees in Psychology and Criminology, and was planning to attend law school. But that all changed when she learned more about the inner workings of the justice system. It did not appear to be the right career for Molly, which led her to explore other options including social work.

“This work really spoke to me on a personal level as my mom worked in social services and my sister experienced being a CASA and foster parent,” said Molly. “I knew I wanted to work in a role that would help people, and I was specifically drawn to child welfare work.”

Upon graduation, Molly applied for a caseworker position with nearly all the Colorado counties that were hiring at the time. Fremont County ended up being the best fit so Molly packed up and moved from Denver to Pueblo. Each day she commutes to Cañon City, which gives her an opportunity to appreciate the beauty of her rural community.

Now six years later, Molly is a Permanency (Specialist) Caseworker IV and lead worker for the Family Treatment Team at Fremont County Department of Human Services.

“I really appreciated that I was able to get such impactful work experience as a caseworker right out of college,” said Molly. “I have been able to learn from and lean on a very supportive team of colleagues that I have a lot of respect for. There is close camaraderie in our department and a supportive culture that prioritizes self-care.”

Molly’s favorite part of her job is working with kids and families, forming a bond with them on the journey of changing, growing and strengthening. Along the way, Molly is focused on being a support for the families – connecting them with resources and providing guidance and information to help them succeed.

“Molly is very thorough and does her best to get families permanency in a timely manner,” said Amanda Koehn, child welfare supervisor at the Fremont County Department of Human Services. “She always goes above and beyond to help the families and kids get the services they need.”

For a caseworker, no two days are the same. Molly appreciates that she is not stuck in an office all day but rather spends most of her time visiting and working with families. She remains flexible and prioritizes families when things pop up that require immediate attention. “I aim to always be available to families to answer questions and lend support whenever they need it,” added Molly. “Being involved in a child welfare case can be confusing and very emotional for families so I want them to feel heard and supported.”

Molly’s advice for anyone considering social work is to give it a try, whether it’s a caseworker role or something else.

“I think it’s incredible that caseworkers come from so many different backgrounds and many of them did not initially plan on ending up in the role,” said Molly. “It turns out Denver and law school weren’t right for me, but I found my calling helping children and families.”

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