“ I knew who these kids were and we should try to find some way to not wound them anymore than life already had”
Bill Engleson worked in the child welfare arena for more than 25 years, most of them as a front-line, journeyman government protection social worker and a dedicated union activist. He surprised himself by taking his leave in March 2002 after a timely early retirement offer.
Shortly thereafter, he began an exhilarating eighteen months journey as a program manager for an eclectic urban social service agency, The Lower Mainland Purpose Society.
He completed that adventure in December 2003 and moved from the Lower Mainland of to Denman Island, a small island off of the east coast of Vancouver Island . His key activities since then have been writing in a number of genres, community volunteering in the arts and social services, a lengthy stint as a marriage commissioner, and chopping wood when required.
He has written Like a Child to Home principally to depict, in fictional form, aspects of the demanding child welfare world he encountered, experiences not often explored in literature. Like a Child to Home is also very much meant to be a means of paying tribute to the amazingly resilient young people that he met along the way as well as to the hard working adults who shared that journey.
Child Welfare social workers, first and foremost, focus on the safety and well-being of children at risk. Additionally they provide a range of services to families who are struggling with a host of social issues and often are called upon to help youth who are coping with more than their fair share of adolescent struggles.
Bill Engleson wrote Like a Child to Home as a tribute to all of the people he met along the way and reveals the very human aspects of the demanding and disturbing child welfare world he encountered.
Review of Like a Child To Home – Authors PR – five stars out of five
What is the real value of a child’s life?
This author presents a portrait of a social worker, Wally Rose, whose major attributes are compassion, patience, commitment and resilience. Readers of Like a Child to Home will hopefully come to better understand how hard it can be to gain the trust of injured youth. Often this bond of trust is a prerequisite to help young people find answers or accept advice and direction. Readers will also come to understand how easy it is for these young people to transform their fears into aggressiveness and isolation as they struggle with family distress, drug use and violence.
Without support from experienced people, the choices young people make can tarnish their lives forever. For any society this is a disgrace. Even though the value of a child’s life is incommensurable, sometimes social workers are limited by the very system they toil in.
The author presents many different cases and diverse ways of handling them. The main case, peppered through the novel, showcases the story of the Prentice family, the mother Carla, her son Jordan, who is already living on the street, and her daughter Skye, who has recently run away from home and the efforts to return her home and effect a family reunification.
As I was reading the book I had the sensation of being there with the social workers and facing together their need to make decisions, trying mightily to put into place resolutions that will be in the best interest of each child.Bill puts so well on paper the pressure of such a job that I can fully understand his choice to take an early retirement. As he has made clear, this work need a lot of commitment and dedication, and the social workers’ personal life is often secondary.
Bill Engleson’s first novel, Like a Child to Home, is a powerful and original take on what it means to be a social worker. While not a typical read, it is an interesting one.
Link to buy the book http://friesenpress-accounts.appspot.com/bookstore/title/119734000010096607
Here is Bill’s website/blog address one more time: http://www.engleson.ca
It contains occasional postings on child welfare issues and ruminations of the writing life. The website also has a selection of Bills other writings, poems, essays and the like.
Goodreads page https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7165464.Bill_Engleson