Staff in Action: Samuel Cruz
“It was a pleasure meeting you this afternoon for my inspection. I want to express how grateful I am for everything Alternative Family Services has done to assist in my application and education process.
I particularly would like to commend Samuel Cruz for his continual dedicated efforts in working with me. Samuel has been very kind, and professional. His commitment to his work, and the detail he expresses in everything he says and does is very much a sign of high integrity. Some parts of the home study were a bit difficult for me to discuss my personal past, and he was sensitive to this. He was careful not to rush me for answers, because my son or other people were around. He offered to make several different phone calls to follow up on anything we missed later. He listened with care, non-judgement and concern, and was very diplomatic. If everyone were like him, the world would be a much more productive, positive and peaceful world! Thank you Samuel for everything!”
Get to Know Samuel
What are your main responsibilities at AFS?
As a resource family approver, I am primarily responsible for getting families ready to foster children. This entails assessing new applicants through personal interviews, home assessment and pre-service trainings.
What led you to work in this field?
From a young age, I was always interested in social work. I obtained a Master’s in Sociology with the hope to make a difference in the community. Working in foster care allows me to help families through a generational approach where children are placed in the right home for them and where the foster parents are equipped to best serve the children under their care.
Why did you choose to work at AFS?
I was lead to AFS through a previous employee. I learned about the organization, and the core values aligned with my own values and desire to best serve the community. I particularly like the child and family-centered approach of the organization.
What are the three best things about your job?
There are many things that I enjoy. Primarily, the support extended to everyone. We are all part of a team where we all support each other. Secondly, being able to approve families who are going to provide therapeutic services to children who need it. Lastly, to finalize adoption which started as foster home placement.
What are the three toughest things about your job?
The toughest parts of the job are the complexity of state regulations in foster care. It is hard to maintain an objective position when conducting interviews when some of the details leading to foster care are often hard. It is tough when we face barriers to approving a family. For example, when a family has the heart and desire to be a resource family but they do not have the placement capacity to do so.
What are three common misconceptions about foster care you would like to address.
There are several misconceptions. A big misconception in the Latino community is that families need to be U.S. Citizens, which is not true. Second, that families must be composed of a married heterosexual couple. Single people and same sex couples, among others, can become foster parents. Lastly, that foster families must be homeowners. The fact is that many families rent. They are not home owners.
Tell us about one impactful moment you’ve had since working at AFS.
There are many impactful moments for me at AFS. Most noteworthy have been the organization’s response to the fires of 2018 and 2019 in Sonoma County and currently during the coronavirus pandemic. AFS responded with a detailed plan of action, securing the well–being of families and employees.
A particular success story for me has been increasing the number of Latino and Asian families who are now approved as resource families.
What is an interesting fact about you that others wouldn’t expect?
People know I really enjoy fishing. I like the peace and tranquility it provides me. Some might not know I am fluent in Italian. I taught myself how to speak this language.
What’s one piece of advice you would provide to someone just starting out in a similar role?
I would advise individuals to pay close attention to details and establish and maintain open communication with co-workers and supervisors. Equally important, practice self-care.