Social Worker Spotlight: Devon McGregor
Devon McGregor is one of the more consistent adults in the life of some of our Island youth.
As a member of Prince Edward Island’s Child and Family Services Child in Care Team, Devon serves youth in foster homes, group homes or those about to age out of the system in a variety of ways. Her work can include teaching life skills to connecting youth with mental health services and taking them to appointments.
“Sometimes it feels like you’re a mom, teacher, friend and lawyer,” she said, noting she’s worked with some kids for as long as 10 years. “The most important thing I try to teach them is to love themselves – to be brave enough to ask for help, because they are worth it.”
PEI’s full pandemic lockdown was shorter than in many provinces, but the early months were no less fraught than the rest of Canada. Helping youth manage isolation became a big part of Devon’s role.
“I spent a lot of time dropping off bicycles and art supplies!” she says. “We also bought a lot of technology to help parents stay connected with youth in care.”
With the support of group home staff or foster parents, some youth fared better without outside pressures, like peers or school performance. For those who were permanent wards and had already experienced trauma and abandonment, isolation was often more difficult. Devon spent a lot of time with daily phone calls or outdoor visits to help kids vent and cope with their living situation.
During those early months of the pandemic, she credits constant communication from management, including ongoing updates on protocols and news from the Chief Public Health Officer, for providing good guidance on how to stay safe and protect others. The support of her supervisor and peers was also essential.
Devon is truly dedicated to her youth and a passionate advocate to help ensure they can grow into healthy adults.
“When I encounter a child in crisis, I know that is not going to be their story in a few years – at least not if I have anything to do about it,” she says. “I’ve worked with youth who were highly suicidal, diagnosed with borderline personality. And, it is amazing to see them grow up and get jobs and be well. I’ve seen miracles happen.”
March is Social Worker Awareness Month. The division of Child and Family Services in the department of Social Development and Housing provides supports to families and children from dedicated Social Workers, like Devon. Services offered to Islanders include Child Protection Services, Residential Services, Foster Care, Adoption Services, Positive Parenting and Family Violence Prevention.
This profile was written by the Child Welfare League of Canada with permission granted to the Government of PEI to share.