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Meet Chrystal Hamilton-Dorelien, Implementation Specialist at extendedReach

1-Sep-01-2022-11-43-26-37-PMThe extendedReach team is full of caring, knowledgeable people who know our customers’ needs and pain points first-hand. Chrystal, a licensed social worker, is no exception. In addition to assisting our customers during their implementation, Chrystal is an active member of the KCare (extendedReach’s parent company) Culture Advocacy Team and leads our DEI efforts to ensure our team feels supported. She is truly a gift to everyone that has worked with her! Read on to learn more about Chrystal’s fascinating background and insights into the industry she knows very well.

What was your professional experience prior to becoming a part of extendedReach?

I'm a licensed social worker in Texas with over 16 years of experience in child and family services. I began my career in New Mexico where I worked with adolescent girls in residential treatment and youth in the criminal justice system. I then worked as a case manager for foster and adoptive children and their families, as well as with the homeless population in southeast Texas. Later in my social work career, I evolved to program development & supervision, training & facilitating professional development, and system administration.

 

How do you feel your previous experience helped shape your journey to extendedReach?

During my time as a caseworker, I worked in several different case management systems. Documentation and reporting are huge components of social services, so I remember getting excited every time we were introduced to new software that would make our jobs easier. Not many people shared that excitement, so it was basically being the "odd woman out" that led me to take over the way my former agency managed data and kept records. That task allowed me to completely restructure our processes, but it also helped me understand the importance of having the right tools to do such an important job. Working directly with clients was fulfilling, but also caused burnout, so I loved being able to use my time and experience to help modernize the next generation of case managers.

 

What is something you would like to see change in the industry?

Social work is a complicated practice that involves so many variables, and it’s a lot of pressure to be part of a structure that is ultimately responsible for improving people’s lives. It’s a profession that demands a lot but often gives back very little when it comes to resources, support, and compensation. I would love to see a change in the rate of turnover in social work because of the critical implications it has, but it’s important to understand that the industry is greatly impacted by factors outside of the profession. So, the amount of support at a political and economic level would need to increase significantly to see that type of change.

 

What do you feel is the top challenge that social workers face?

One of the things I think about in a social worker’s career is their professional resilience--their capacity to thrive in demanding situations and environments. Compassion fatigue, or burnout, is one of the biggest reasons social workers leave the profession, and unfortunately, there is a lot more that contributes to it than just high caseloads. A social worker’s resilience is influenced by many things, and while self-care is important in maintaining resiliency, I believe that it’s also important to recognize the impact that organizational culture has as well.

 

2-Sep-01-2022-11-44-01-42-PMHow does extendedReach support its customers?

extendedReach has been able to meet the many varied needs of agencies across the country. The use of this tool alone in being able to electronically capture the lives of the people they serve is major. I remember a long time ago having to dig through file cabinets for a document that a client needed just so they would be able to access services that would allow them to obtain food or shelter or get a job. A document they left with us to keep safe because they knew their circumstances would put them at risk of losing that important piece of paper, thus delaying or losing access to their livelihood.

The tools that KCare provides, like extendedReach, validate the work that our customers do every day for their clients. We recognize the importance of establishing trust with our clients through secure and confidential accessibility, and we understand our customers’ time is valuable.

 

What is one tip you would give for one of our customers starting their career?

Everything you do, see, and encounter as a social worker should be added to your professional AND personal toolkit. It will help you to become more well-rounded in your career, and it will help you to address your personal needs with the same level of care that you give to the profession.