Staff in Action: Leslie Matthews
Leslie Matthews, Program Director of the AFS Sacramento office, is one of the amazing staff members here at AFS. In fact, here’s how she has worked with one person from elementary school all the way through to her college graduation: https://youtu.be/g-TSA9_u508
Get to Know Leslie
What are your main responsibilities at AFS?
I oversee the Sacramento Foster Care Program and approve new resource parents for the agency.
What led you to work in this field?
I have always like working with kids and am a therapist. Once I found that we could affect positive change in all aspects of foster youth’s lives, I was hooked.
Why did you choose to work at AFS?
I was made aware of AFS from a colleague (Maria Padilla). I knew that the agency had a long-standing history of doing good work. Once I met Jay, Jim and Craig, I knew that I wanted to work for an agency that puts their resource parents, staff and clients first.
What are the three best things about your job?
Each member of my team brings something special to AFS, it’s a pleasure to work with them. I love meeting and bringing on new resource parents to provide homes for our kids. My days are never the same, as there’s always something new to master and better the agency’s service delivery. Finding forever homes for our kids! Watching our kids find successes in their lives. I could keep going!
What are the three toughest things about your job?
Sometimes working with biological parents can be tough, helping them to understand that our role is to supervise the case and to assist with reunification if that is the case plan. Managing the multitude of family visits ordered by the court and supporting my staff in difficult situations can sometimes be tough as well.
What are three common misconceptions about foster care you would like to address?
Resource parents do it for the money, they don’t get rich doing this. Foster kids are not just housed; AFS prides itself on finding ways to support and foster our kids’ interest.
Tell us about one impactful moment you’ve had since working at AFS.
I attended a former foster youth’s graduation from high school and college. I’m so proud of Tasha! I worked with her when she was in the 3rd grade and have followed her life since then.
Please tell us about a particularly memorable success story!
My nephew and his wife decided to foster in their 20s. They decided to adopt three of their first five foster youth as resource parents with AFS. Their kids were welcome additions to our family and it has been a beautiful, wonderful source of pride that my family has embraced my passion of supporting foster youth! They are the first great grand-children in our family; my brother, sister and I love including them in our family traditions. The oldest is the same age as my daughter and they have attended middle and now high school together. My nephew and his wife represent the best of AFS and are parenting kids of three different ethnic backgrounds! I’m a very proud auntie!!!!
What is an interesting fact about you that others wouldn’t expect?
Hmmm – I’m a total introvert, but I’ve learned to fake it.
What’s one piece of advice you would provide to someone just starting out in a similar role?
Find ways to take care of your mental health consistently, I exercise regularly and before the pandemic received monthly massages! When I take care of myself, I am happier and definitely more productive!