Outstanding Caseworker: Tara Taylor

Finding a forever family for a 12-year-old boy included accompanying him on a 1,600 mile flight to his new home.

September 12, 2018

Outstanding Caseworker Tara Taylor
"The reward of seeing a family like this one come together makes all of the hard work worthwhile."

A grateful parent wrote to us recommending that we feature Tara Taylor, a child safety specialist in Arizona, as an Outstanding Caseworker.

“Tara went above and beyond working tirelessly on our son's adoption. She traveled 1,600 miles to bring him to our home in Tennessee and often worked late at night and on weekends to get the paperwork done. Tara is professional, yet compassionate. Her diligence has allowed my wife and I to become parents.”

We asked Tara about her work with this family and others.

Was this an unusual case—placing a child from Arizona in Tennessee?

It was definitely a very special situation.

The boy, James, was 12 years old and had been in care for more than three years. He was on my caseload and also had a special recruiter who was searching for families for him.

While I was on maternity leave, my colleague spotted this couple in Tennessee on AdoptUSKids and thought there might be a connection.

I hadn’t been involved in an interstate placement before. At first, I thought it was far fetched that someone from so far away would be interested in our kids. But they were! They drove out to meet him, and there was an instant connection among them. It just seemed like they fit together.

The couple and James spent a week traveling around Arizona and taking in sights like the Grand Canyon. It was really special for him, because he hadn’t done that kind of exploring before. Then they went back to Tennessee, and we all maintained contact while working through the interstate adoption process.

There were ups and downs and a couple of bumps along the way. But a few months later, right before Christmas, I had the pleasure of flying with James to Tennessee. He had never been in an airport or on a plane before. He was so excited and had a million questions! It was quite a trip for both of us.

When we got to their house, James was greeted with a big “welcome home” sign and Christmas presents under the tree.

Have you stayed in touch with the family?

Yes! They traveled back to Arizona to finalize his adoption this summer, on July 3. James is thriving. In the last six months, his confidence level has grown, and he has matured more than I could have imagined.

And, there’s more good news! Now the family is in the process of adopting a second child on my caseload, a little girl. Because of that one match, we’ve potentially identified a family for two children.

Is it cases like these that keep you going?

Definitely. I’ve been working with the Arizona Department of Child Safety for almost five years. When I started, I was helping families who were working toward reunification. Now I work with children who need permanent families.

We’re able to find families for most of the kiddos I work with, and that is very rewarding. There is nothing better than getting kids into forever homes.

But sometimes children do age out without a family or permanent support system. When that happens, I stay in touch with them and try to be a mentor and support to them.

Where do you find support?

Everywhere! My family, friends, and coworkers. Finding support in this role is key, because the work is never done. There are always challenges. But in the long run, the positive outcomes outweigh the difficulties. And the reward of seeing a family like James’s come together makes all of the hard work worthwhile.


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