Elizabeth has almost 20 years of experience in social work and has been dedicated to helping people all her life. She attended San Francisco State University and received a Bachelor’s in Psychology, and then a Masters in Marriage and Family Counseling after being encouraged by her parents to pursue higher education. With that encouragement, she was the first in her family to receive a college education.
She first built experience as a volunteer at WEAVE for crisis calls but would later transition to a job as a high school counselor in San Francisco. It was in this role where she worked primarily with children who had higher mental health needs and focused on providing counseling and peer groups. Elizabeth loved this job because of the connection she made with the children she served. After being in San Francisco for 10 years, she moved to Sacramento and continued in the social work field with high school children. Elizabeth would find her heart when she transitioned to a role that involved helping children and teens in the foster care and adoption system. Seeing the success of parents reunifying with their children, or children getting out of the system and into permanent homes brought Elizabeth joy for 10 years.
After her experiences with the foster care system, a friend encouraged Elizabeth to apply at Alta California Regional Center. Since working here, she has really enjoyed being a Service Coordinator for a year and a half and likes connecting with her families. In particular, she has a family on her caseload with an adopted child and is happy to apply the knowledge she gained to help them. Because she has a caseload comprised of school age children, she applies the experience and information she has from working in school systems and the Individual Education Program (IEP) to the service coordination role. Elizabeth’s favorite part of her role is the assessment because it allows her to get to know her families and build relationships with them.
Social work has brought Elizabeth her greatest joy in life - besides helping so many people – meeting her son, Hilton. While working in an adoption agency role, Hilton was added to Elizabeth’s caseload who had an interesting request on his case. Hilton’s birth mother had stated that she was not able to care for him, but being that Hilton is a member of a tribe in South Dakota, the birth family was putting pressure on the mother or family members to have Hilton reside in a native home so he can grow up in his culture. At the age of two, Hilton was placed with his paternal grandmother and would stay with her for two years until she stated that she needed help.
Unfortunately, the care Hilton was receiving was subpar and his living situation was dire. His grandmother had gone missing after stating she needed help. Elizabeth knew she needed to more than her job, so Hilton was placed under her care as a second care provider. Despite knowing that the grandmother was not able to provide the level of care needed to keep Hilton, a custody battle ensued until he was nine years old. It was then that Elizabeth was legally able to adopt him.
It was important for Elizabth and Hilton’s birth family that Hilton still maintain connection to his native culture. His grandmother speaks their native language, Lakota, to him and Elizabeth and Hilton attended pow wows together. Lines of connection to his birth family are open should he want to deepen the relationship with them and further immerse himself. Additionally, Elizabeth has respected Hilton’s wish to not have his name changed as it is a part of him.