Stephanie Metzger is a dedicated and experienced social worker who has been with JFCS since 2016 and currently serves as the Director of Prevention Services. With nearly 20 years in the field of child welfare, she has a wealth of knowledge and passion for her work. Prevention services include the Family Assessment Support Team (FAST) and the Strengthening Ties Empowering Parents (STEPS) program, which aims to support families in crisis, helping them navigate challenges without judicial intervention.

“It’s not just about providing immediate assistance; it’s about fostering self-sufficiency and resilience, which can have lasting positive effects on individuals and families.” – Stephanie Metzger

Q: How long have you been an employee at JFCS? What is your role?

Stephanie: I’ve been at JFCS since 2016, where I started as a FAST Supervisor, moved to Associate Director in 2020, then became the Director of Prevention Services in March of 2022. Prevention services include FAST and STEPS programs. The goal of these services is to provide families with the tools they need to create safe and stable environments for their children, ultimately preventing the need for foster care placement. Additionally, I partner with our Clinical Director, Lorna Wittenrich, for the High-Risk Newborn Program, which is also a prevention program.

Q: What does your day-to-day look like?

Stephanie: My day-to-day responsibilities vary quite a bit. As a director, I handle a lot of behind-the-scenes work, including meetings for programs, policies, and procedures, and communicating with our lead agency, Family Support Services (FSS). I manage our staff and am involved in critical junctures of cases, such as when a child moves from an out-of-home to an in-home safety plan.

Q: What do you enjoy most about working with JFCS?

Stephanie: Overall, I love that JFCS is family and community-oriented. I appreciate the wide range of services we provide to help people in their most critical times of need. Specifically, in the FAST program, I value how we are keeping kids out of the system, making families stronger, and giving parents every opportunity to be the best they can be for their children. I truly love my team. We have a great culture in Prevention.

Q: What are some challenges you face in your position?

Stephanie: One of the biggest challenges is engaging families in our prevention programs since participation is voluntary. We use a variety of strategies to engage them, such as joint visits with the Department of Children and Families (DCF), making contact through supervisors, and conducting Integrated Practice Team (IPT) meetings. Another challenge is navigating policies and procedures that can be inflexible. We often brainstorm with FSS to resolve these issues and find ways to overcome barriers.

Q: What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in your work at JFCS?

Stephanie: Personally, becoming a director is a significant accomplishment for me. For the programs, my greatest accomplishment has been fostering an environment where staff feel supported and recognized. Creating a supportive and appreciative work culture is something I continue to work hard at every day.

Q: How do you spend your time when you’re not working?

Stephanie: I spend a lot of time with my kids, husband, and two dogs. So, I really enjoy spending time with my family. We go to the beach and do archery, and both of my kids are in soccer, so lots of soccer games.

Q: Why should people invest in the JFCS mission, “Helping people help themselves”?

Stephanie: Investing in our mission is important because empowering people to help themselves leads to better long-term outcomes. When people learn to help themselves, they’re more invested in the changes they make. It’s not just about providing immediate assistance; it’s about fostering self-sufficiency and resilience, which can have lasting positive effects on individuals and families.

Stephanie’s dedication to her role at JFCS exemplifies our agency’s mission of “helping people help themselves.” Through her leadership and commitment to fostering a supportive environment, she not only strengthens her team’s capabilities but also significantly impacts the lives of the families they serve. Stephanie’s work in prevention services helps ensure that families have the resources and support they need to thrive, reflecting the core values of JFCS in every aspect of her job