Meet Raeven, Lead Case Manager for Comprehensive Community-Based Youth Services
Meet Raeven Jones-Kelley, a Lead Case Manager at OHU. Raeven has worked at OHU since May 2022, specializing in Case Management for the Comprehensive Community-Based Youth Services (CCBYS) program. Before starting her journey at OHU, Raeven was a preschool teacher and a nanny, where she originally found her passion for working with children. When exploring a new career path, Raeven knew she wanted to continue working with children, but wanted to find a way to make more of an impact on their lives, ultimately leading her to OHU.
What does a typical day look like as a CCBYS Lead Case Manager?
I provide case management services to the clients. Whether we are getting clients through our crisis calls or through a discretionary referral, I spend my day doing things like reaching out to new clients, preparing for sessions, meeting with clients, and giving presentations to schools to explain our services. I guess that’s a big way of saying, it really depends on the day. If I’m specifically working with clients, I like to spend the day before preparing for their session. I plan out what I want to go over with them in the session and print out whatever materials we might need. A session usually lasts about 45 minutes, and after the session is over I like to put in notes right away so it is fresh in my mind.
Who can enroll in the CCBYS program?
The kids have to be at least 10 years old (11 years old if they have to sign paperwork in certain crisis cases) and they have to be under 18. Typically, it can be any kind of client that is experiencing some kind of risky behavior. That can be something from them refusing to go to school, or when they go to school they’re skipping all their classes. We have even gotten referrals from kids who are struggling that first week or two in school making friends. It can be the kids that are more so feeling withdrawn or they are having some sort of mental health crises. But really it can be anyone that is looking for some extra support.
Our crisis cases are typically related to housing issues, which can occur when a child runs away and loses their shelter, or when a parent refuses to provide shelter for their child. In those cases our first immediate concern is finding the child shelter for the night or for the next couple of days. As long as we have either parents or guardians permission or limited custody through the police, we are allowed to take them to any Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) funded shelter or a family generated placement if the family agrees to it. After we place them either at a shelter or a family generated placement, we are going to be in contact with that family, especially the next 48 hours just to make sure all the transitions are going smoothly. We try to start services with them too after that 48 hours if they’re interested.
What does a typical session look like?
It depends, but overall we are teaching the kids skills. I have a younger client right now, and I found some social emotional worksheets that we’ve been going through. During their session, we’ll go through the worksheets, discuss what was learned from them, and talk about how we can apply what was learned going forward. I always start the session by checking in to see how their week went.
For my younger kids, the session includes a lot of worksheet involvement because it’s easier for the kids to remember things that they’re writing down. For my older kids, the session can be talking through struggles they are going through. I’ve had some of my high school clients who want to talk about arguments with their friends and how to handle that argument. From that, we’ll go through different strategies on how they can handle it.
Another example could be if they had recently gotten suspended for fighting, we’ll talk about what happened with that fight, how it led up to that fight, and then going forward what we can do differently to stop ourselves from getting into that situation. Overall, it really depends on the client and what they are going through.
What do you love about working here?
I like that they trust us to do our jobs without having to be over our shoulder all the time because I don’t work well like that. And I like that they listen to us. Whenever we have an issue or we think that something would work better for our program, they actually like to listen to us and we see the changes they make. So far every time we’ve discussed something or have asked for something, they’ve done their best to provide that for us. I appreciate that a lot.
Do you have a favorite “success story” from working here?
I had a client that was referred to us with very low self esteem and was struggling to communicate her feelings. By the time we were done working together, I could see an outward change in her. She started to dress nicely, put makeup on, and was greeting people with a smile.
When I first started working with her, she was shy, would always look down when speaking to you, and had a hard time putting her foot down when setting boundaries with herself. She even applied for a new position in the program she was working in, where before she didn’t have the confidence to do that. She was able to raise her grades and gain that confidence in herself. That was one of the first clients I saw a real change, because sometimes even though we are working with them for three months, that isn’t always enough time to see a drastic change, but with this girl in particular I was able to witness that change in her which was really cool.
Do you have a favorite memory from working here?
I definitely think my favorite moments all involve different team building things that we do. Our team gets together with the McHenry office as well to do group activities. We’ve done two escape rooms so far. Those have always been the best time. It’s fun to see your coworkers figure out problems because it kind of lets me see how they handle the problems in their cases too. It’s funny to see people cut loose, so I definitely love all the team building things that we get to do here.
Do you have a favorite part of your day-to-day position?
I think the planning part would probably be the best part of my day. I like to plan what I want to do with my youth in sessions. I enjoy that creative aspect of being able to come up with new activities or thinking about what’s going to benefit them, and what some of those activities look like. We have a lot of social emotional games that we use. We use a wide track curriculum a lot, so it’s setting up those visual metaphors and then all those activities that come with the programming. For one of my sessions I had this activity where I emptied a can of tomato sauce and put a bunch of candy in it and then closed to back up. That session was all about labels and learning that sometimes what you get on the outside isn’t what you are going to get on the inside. That was fun to plan and be able to do things to get my creativity going.
What advice would you give someone starting in this role?
Don’t be intimidated by the 24/7 aspect of this job. I know a lot of people can be worried about having to be available for that amount of time. I will say we don’t get that many crises, and with the proper training, and as long as we’re being open to the families, most of the time they’re just wanting someone to listen to them and hear their side of the story. Half of our job is being able to listen to someone. It can seem intimidating because we have the 24/7 aspect and we have to be available all the time, but at the end of the day, our crises may take an hour at most. Then, it’s just being that person to lend a listening ear to someone that is having that crisis.