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The Broomfielder

Leading Broomfield’s Child Protective Service and Adult Protection Bonnie Steele Motivated by Drive to Partner with Families

Nov 04, 2019 04:00PM
Leading Broomfield’s Child Protective Service and Adult Protection
Bonnie Steele Motivated by Drive to Partner with Families
By Megan Eichner
Bonnie Steele has always had a heart for service and knew she wanted to work with children in the foster care system since she was a teenager. She gets to do just that as the Intake Supervisor for Broomfield Child Protective Services and the Adult Protection Program. Bonnie got her bachelor’s degree in social work from Arizona State University, and began working as a caseworker in 1999. After working in Arizona and Jefferson County, Bonnie made her way to Broomfield in 2015, where she started in Child Protective Services just two years later. Since then, her role has expanded into the Adult Protection Program which serves at-risk populations of all ages. Bonnie is constantly improving her skills and strives to “partner with families on a deeper level.”
Although she began her career as a permanency caseworker (helping children remain in their homes or other lasting scenarios), she is now a generalist caseworker. She is responsible for many program areas, including screening, intake, assessment, ongoing cases, and permanency cases. This has allowed her to more thoroughly partner with families to make meaningful connections. Bonnie attributes more time with families to greater success in maintaining family units. Although it can be intense and challenging, Bonnie said, “it can be encouraging and it is even more rewarding to me.”
Bonnie explained that achieving excellence in her work would not be possible without the reinforcement provided by outside sources. The support of various community organizations and the community mentality of collaboration are highly valued in her field of work, and this is what allows Bonnie and her coworkers to better serve Broomfield citizens. “We work closely with various agencies within the community. Afterall, everyone plays a role within their community for the safety of at-risk individuals.”
Bonnie cites the implementation of the Differential Response model as a key tool for her work in our community. The model allows each referral case to focus on broad matters instead of singular concerns and has led to less investigative approaches and more work with families to reach their goals. Bonnie reiterated, “The more we can improve our direct practice with families, the more we can help improve the lives within our community.”
She is excited about a new prevention caseworker position in her department, which will help keep children within their own homes by providing outreach services for families. Bonnie also does a great deal of work to support at-risk adults in Broomfield. The team, consisting of various community agencies, creates goals for improving services and education, and meeting individual needs. This work provides opportunities for the sharing of information and resources, as well was the ability to use a team approach to work through individual scenarios.
Bonnie makes sure to learn people’s stories on a personal level and to understand their complexities. This is important to her because “in these jobs, we see some things in the world that many do not believe exist or have been fortunate enough to not have experienced in their lives.” Truly and sincerely getting to know the people she is working with allows her to help in the most impactful way. Then she is able to witness the resilience of families that move beyond dark places in their lives.
What Bonnie would like the community to know about her work can best be said in her own words: “What I would love for people to know is this is not just a ‘job.’  It is not just a paycheck or being a part of the government system.  It is not about taking children away from their families or at-risk adults being forced into living dependently. There are certainly times where we could do better or could have taken a different approach. We make mistakes.  After all, we are all human.  Even though situations do not always go as people hope for, it is not for a lack of care or understanding. Our days are successful when children safely remain home, when we can help individuals and families accomplish their own goals, and when people have increased support and connections in their lives.”