Luck Has Nothing to Do With It
Worker Builds Relationships to Finalize High Number of Adoptions
"Committed," "an advocate" and "willing to work with others" are all terms co-workers use to describe Engel. But Engel remains humble and instead, heaps praise on others. "I get by because my co-workers are all here," she said. "There are a lot of great workers out there." Despite her humility, the proof of Engel's success is in the numbers. Last year, she placed more than 20 children in adoptive homes, well above the average of one a month.
has worked in the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family
Services (DCFS) Lakewood Adoptions Office since beginning her career with
DCFS six years ago. She decided to become a social worker after college
during an internship where she worked with inner city seventh graders in
she started as an Adoption worker, Engel describes the experience as
“death by fire.” At the
time, she was carrying a caseload of about 100. Things have settled down
and now her caseload is at about 55.
has developed and matured into an excellent team player, a dedicated and
very sensitive social worker,” said Supervising Children’s Social
Worker Jose Lujan, who has supervised Engel since 1999. “The quality of
her overall case management skills as an advocate for children and as a
clinician is excellent and consistently demonstrated in her casework.”
Engel became part of the expanded Torrance Adoption Model. The Torrance
Adoption Model uses a team approach to promote early and on-going case
planning coordination between the child protection and adoption social
workers assigned to a child’s case to achieve the goal of timely
adoptions. Engel has been
highly effective in developing constructive, collaborative relationships
with regional colleagues through implementation of the Torrance Adoption
Model in the Lakewood office.
am always impressed with how positive Nicole is, even when facing very
challenging case circumstances. She has a great deal of stamina and a 'can
do' attitude. She is determined to achieve the best permanency outcome for
each child. She clearly
believes in a team approach and in working collaboratively. This is the
basis of the 'Torrance Model' and it's a natural fit with Nicole's style,
explained Adoptions Assistant Regional Administrator Joe Prusak.
Supervisor Hollis Hollingsworth, whose unit works with Nicole, agrees.
“She is the perfect example of how well generic social workers
and Adoptions can coordinate services placing first and foremost the best
interest of our children. She
makes an effort to maintain an open exchange of information in regard to
the home, the child and the prospective adoptive family.
She makes herself readily available for conferences and responds to
all telephone inquiries quickly, exchanging needed information to satisfy
the court's requirements for .26 hearings.”
also view Engel positively. Unit
Carriere said, “Nicole is one of the
favorite people. She offers
her help readily and is always available to give advice. She is so generous with her time and knowledge.
In the six years I have worked with her she has made my job so much
easier and so much more fun. She is so well respected and so
well liked around here!”
For now, Engel is happy meeting challenges head-on such as setting up an adoption for older, higher-needs youth or putting a sibling set back together in an adoptive home. “Putting together an unattached family with a child is exciting and feels good,” she said.