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Friday, Apr 4, 2014

Keeping Families Together

Keeping children in their homes and communities rather than having them placed in residential care, group homes, or foster homes, is the aim of Berkshire’s Community Clinician in Columbia County. That's a huge and tough job – it isn’t for just anyone.

It suits Melanie Miller, however. Miller, who grew up in Columbia County, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has been working with children and families for three years. She works with Columbia County’s Social Services and Juvenile Probation Departments, and her goal is to keep youth in their home communities whenever possible. The photo below shows (Left to Right): Michele Clark (Col. County Juvenile Probation), Melanie Miller , and Dawn Beaumont (Col. County DSS).

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As Community Clinician, Miller assesses youth who are at risk of being removed from their homes. “I see my role as part of a valuable process that includes working with families to get at the root of behavioral issues,” she says.

“It’s very rewarding to discover previously unknown facts that will help us reach children and begin to turn their lives around,” she said. “I am excited about Berkshire’s philosophy, which focuses on treatments that help children and families identify past traumas and teaching them the tools needed to move forward.” She adds that the Sanctuary Model, now used in every part of Berkshire’s work and embedded in its culture, is a big help in reaching and helping children and families.

Miller generally engages with families for only a couple of months while she, the families, and other community service providers work together to identify problems and find solutions. “Even in that short period of time, I discover wonderful things about families and realize that I have grown to love and value them,” says Miller. “I am delighted when families request that I be with them during meetings because I know they genuinely want to help their child and create a better future for the entire family.”

Miller says she enjoys collaborating with others, a very important part of her job. Although the work can be stressful, she is able to develop rewarding relationships with colleagues, county officials, parents, and children. “We get so much accomplished when we work together,” she says.

Thanks to Miller and her dedicated colleagues in counties across the state, 97 percent of youths and families counseled through Berkshire remain in their homes with expanded support and resources.


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