A Day in the Life of a Caseworker
Contributions from Jaye Kincade, Caseworker at the COMPASS School
The COMPASS School’s Caseworkers play a vital role in the School’s day-to-day functioning, starting with the most important part of the day: getting students to school. Head Caseworker Jaye Kincade along with other Caseworkers pick students up from their houses every morning to get them to school. According to Jaye, the van is a comfortable environment for the students since they can recline, listen to music, and have fun-filled banter. In this type of environment, students tend to be more likely to speak with him about things that they do not want to talk about in school. This is a valuable part of the day because it gives Jaye and the other Caseworkers a chance to give other School staff a heads up on the students’ moods and advice on how to deal with them throughout the day. It also plays an important role for the students because it helps them build stronger relationships with Caseworkers.
After getting the students to school, Jaye’s day revolves around being at his assigned station ready to assist the teachers with behavioral issues in any way that he can. He often gets called to other areas of the school if there is a situation that other Caseworkers are struggling with. For example, Jaye will step in to reduce tension if a student refuses to leave the classroom or engages in other challenging situations. He also gets involved to ensure that conflicts do not become personal between the staff and the student. It is important to make sure that staff members are not becoming targets to students because of these interactions, so Jaye likes to switch staff out often.
Some recurring behaviors that Jaye sees at the School are inappropriate language and aggression in the form of threats and physical aggression – but he also sees a lot of situations where students struggle to explain their behavior to their teachers. According to Jaye, in these cases, it is important for Caseworkers to help students express their intentions properly so that the student can avoid having to leave the classroom.
Jaye stresses the value of building strong connections and relationships with the students. “If the students don’t know you”, he says, “they won’t respond well to you”. However, he also emphasizes that Caseworkers need to let the students know that they are not friends – rather, a relationship of mutual respect is crucial to its success. According to Jaye, once students feel like they’re respected, progress can be made. Jaye often tells students, “I’m going to respect you whether you like me or not. You don’t have to like me, but respect me as I respect you.” Another thing Jaye says is that consistency is key. Caseworkers want to avoid being seen as fake, unfair, or biased, and so it is necessary to treat all the students fairly and equally.
Jaye’s journey at COMPASS began as a job that he saw as temporary; however, the connections that he made with the students almost made it feel as though they became his own. He wants to see them succeed and do well and doesn’t want to leave until this happens – when the next round of students come along, it hits him in the same way. When students tell him that he’s only there for the paycheck, he reminds them that he could have chosen any career and that he is there because he wants to be. Jaye’s work at COMPASS is very important him – “I just love being here,” he says.