Jennifer Childers Radiates Compassion in her Role as Behavioral Specialist ​

Behavioral Specialist Jennifer Childers has spent most of her working life, in some capacity, caring for others. In her role helping adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, she continues in the direction of a compassionate career choice.

Childers joined the behavioral specialist team at 14th Street group home in Gaston County’s Bessemer City last November, where she now works three-day shifts each week. Primarily the one-on-one support for resident Tracy, who has Down Syndrome, Childers interacts with all the residents and has positively impacted the staff with her nurturing example.

Childers, 56, became familiar with Monarch when she received services in 2015 for depression and anxiety. At the time working as a certified nursing assistant (CNA), Childers aspired to pursue a different field but needed a guiding hand.

Interested in changing career paths, Childers was introduced to the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) team serving Gaston County led by Lead Employment  Support Professional Danielle Earl and supported by Maurice Corry, employment support professional, and Cathy Vannest, employment peer mentor.

The team guided Childers through career options. She ultimately decided to participate in Monarch’s certified peer support specialist (CPSS) course and received certification after attending the 40-hour class taught by Peer Services Director Brandon Tankersley.

A CPSS is a person with significant lived experience used to help others find a path to recovery and healing. Peer specialists support individuals with struggles that can include mental illness, anxiety, developmental disabilities, psychological trauma or substance use.

The CPSS training provided Childers the opportunity to learn about the role but also to realize her own strengths and weaknesses. “It’s awesome to know that I have the ability to inspire someone,” she said of what she learned in the course and how it helps in her current role.

Residential Manager Regina Love, who oversees the 14th Street and Ohio Avenue group homes and has assisted Childers in acclimating to her new role, said from the moment she interviewed the potential candidate, she witnessed something special.

“It was like a new light bulb. There was this glow about her as if she was finally in a position to be proud of herself,” Love explained, noting that Childers has made a positive impact on both the people we support and the staff. ​​​“Jennifer has made it a point to get to know and build a relationship with each one or our residents.”

Fellow Behavioral Specialist Ethel Bridges is pleased that Childers is part of the team, noting her humbleness and motivation to learn. “She catches on well. She is so patient with the people we support and provides excellent care for Tracy,” Bridges described, putting a supportive arm around Childers.

Love believes Childers’ addition has strengthened the team by being an example of compassionately assessing, handling and resolving situations. “She is hungry to support the people we serve. She really wants to see the people we support succeed. In her heart of hearts, she really wants to see them succeed,” added Love.

Since beginning in her role last fall, Childers said she has enjoyed getting to know the team, her new role and the people we support. “I feel terrific. I find that helping others ignites my creativity,” she said. “Meaningful work is the cornerstone of feeling better about yourself.”

Childers continues to touch base with the IPS team for moral support and appreciates the continued shoulder to lean on that Corry provides. “Having him to talk to helps guide me. He offers good advice,” she said. “It’s nice for me personally that I can bounce ideas off of him. I have someone who listens.”

Born and raised in Florida, Childers moved to North Carolina in 2007, and has spent her spare time writing and earning an associate degree in Broadcasting from Cleveland Community College. She lives in Gaston County with her husband, Rusty, and son, James.

Photo caption: Above right, Behavioral Specialist Jennifer Childers takes a break in the front of 14th Street group home in Bessemer City.