We need you. They need you.

March 2023 · Forward in Hope

“Social worker …. Only because full-time, multi-tasking ninja is not actually a job title.”

Most of us at Saint Francis can relate. After all, it’s a job like no other.

It takes a special kind of person, one with a big heart, great passion, and vast reservoirs of hope.

One of those people is Rachel Williams-Ehue. Here’s her story:

“If we don’t help heal parents, then we don’t heal children,” says Rachel Williams-Ehue. “For a parent whose child goes into foster care, it can feel like a dirty secret or a secret failure. That’s why we have the obligation to help remove the stigma attached to asking for help. A parent should be able to say, ‘I’m in a situation, and I need help.’ Our system and our work should be all about getting them that help so they can grow and heal their family.”

That outlook has guided Rachel over the 20 years of her social work career, all of it spent with Saint Francis Ministries. A Wichita native, she earned her BSW from Wichita State University, then started looking for a job. One of the first places she applied was Saint Francis, answering an ad for a permanency case manager in the Hutchinson office. She was called for an interview within an hour of submitting her resume and was hired the day of her interview.

She chose social work as a profession largely because of her mother’s example.

“She was a caretaker of people – old, young, other people’s children. Growing up, she was always taking care of someone at our house. She was just helpful and kind and believed in looking beyond someone’s circumstances to see what they needed and how she could help. So, social work fit in with my beliefs about helping others. Once I entered my first class, it all clicked and made sense because social work encompassed everything.”

Rachel spent 18 months at the Hutchinson office before moving to Wellington, where she covered multiple counties. During her work in Wellington, she also provided support to the Garden City and Dodge City offices while maintaining her caseload in Wellington. Over 14 years, she moved from case manager to supervisor to director. In 2019, she became director of placement for Wichita, working from her office at The Mount. Then, in 2021, she accepted the position of regional vice president in Texas.

It was a big change.

“I was looking for something different, and since reunification and permanency work is my passion, getting back to that was a draw,” she says. “I also wanted to see what child welfare work looked like in another state and to see what we could do there. Believing in the things I’ve learned at Saint Francis, such as doing what’s best for families over everything else, I wanted to bring that mindset to Texas – not that it wasn’t already here. But they were moving into a new the new phase of doing case management, and I thought it would be a good challenge.”

Saint Francis has served in Texas since 2017, beginning first as a foster care homes provider in Abilene, then becoming a Single Source Continuum Contractor (SSCC) in 2019. As a SSCC for the Panhandle, SFM serves 41 counties in West Texas by providing services to more than 1,600 children in the foster care system. We also provide foster care, case management, and resource connection services from our offices in Amarillo and Lubbock.

“In Texas, they’re really looking at doing child welfare differently,” says Rachel. “I believe that what we’ve brought to Region 1 is the strong community aspect of it – which is really what community-based care is all about. Our model of parent support, helping them get the resources they need and helping families come together, is something new to Texas. It’s also something that our state partners and stakeholders really support.”

On March 2, SFM CEO William Clark and COO Trish Bryant traveled to Lubbock to promote Rachel to Permanency Vice President for Texas. She now oversees SFM’s SSCC work in the Texas Panhandle, leading more than 320 employees from her office in Lubbock.

It’s just another step on a long career of service with Saint Francis.

“I’ve been fortunate to have great people since I started who have helped me and taught me a lot,” says Rachel. One of the most instrumental was Michelle Albertin (Reintegration RVP for Western Kansas) who taught by example. And there are other people here at Saint Francis who are deeply invested in this mission and who can teach you and help you grow simply by modeling their integrity and work ethic. I think it’s important that, wherever Saint Francis goes, we go with that mission to provide healing and hope to families. That’s what we do, and it should always stay that way.”

As we approach the end of National Social Work Month, we have just one question: Is there room in your day … to provide healing and hope to children and families?

If so, consider becoming a social worker like Rachel. Better yet, become a Saint Francis social worker.

We need you. They need you.

Start here.