A lifelong love of children is the driving force for Resource and Referral Family Engagement Supervisor Judi Ruiz, who will soon celebrate 31 years with Child Care Resource Center.
While her title has changed over the three decades she’s served children and families across Northern Los Angeles County, her passion for strengthening families has remained consistent. Here’s more of what she had to say:
What’s your role with the agency and what are your responsibilities?
“I’m the R&R Family Engagement Supervisor at Headquarters and I supervise the staff who are on the phones providing child care referrals, assisting parents and care givers with their child care plans. If they need care, we ask questions about where, what type, the number of children and their ages. Then we enter that information into the database, which pulls up licensed care providers and centers that can accommodate their needs. Staff also directs families on what to look for and questions to ask. My team also does outreach work, organizing giveaways and events, trainings, and play groups.”
How did you end up at CCRC?
“I was a psychology major and my goal was to become a child psychologist. In order to pay for my schooling, I decided to work at four – yes, four – different day care centers. I learned that I loved being around kids and assisting their parents with child development. After six years of that, I decided to move on even though I loved what I did. One of the centers I worked at received this newsletter and CCRC had posted that it was looking for a Resource and Referral counselor so I applied. The Center had just 19 employees and was located in North Hollywood at the time. I got the job but I found out later that I almost wasn’t hired because Fran (the hiring manager) didn’t think I’d make the drive from Simi Valley.”
How has your department and the agency as a whole changed since you started?
“This was before computers so it was just phone calls and networking with parents and care givers, who were looking for child care and technical assistance. The agency was much smaller in 1990. We used index cards! We didn’t have walk-ins and no computers, it was all phone work. I never imagined CCRC would turn into what it is today. It was so small, so different. There’s a lot that has been accomplished.”
How many people do you manage?
“I supervise five people and we have another in the hiring process.”
Is there a time at CCRC that stands out to you when you felt you made a difference in someone’s life?
“I had a young parent call in who was expecting and wasn’t sure if she’d give her child up for adoption. We talked a long time and I told her about the different programs available to her. She was telling me her story and she was so afraid. Everyone else she’d talked to was so negative and unhappy with her. She said at the end of the call she’d never forget me and she was so appreciative to know all the resources available to her. She decided to keep the baby even after everyone had told her she can’t keep the baby. After the phone call, the girl was so excited, happy, and grateful.”
What motivates you to keep going with your work?
“I love the work we do for families, care givers, providers, the community. The people I work with, we all have a passion for what we do and you can see it. I really enjoy and feel honored to work with the individuals who come through the doors or call. What we do and what everyone does that comes through the agency, it’s all for the children. CCRC has become my home away from home.”