Caseworker’s path lined with desire for investigation, love of families
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time when programs across the country like Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s FireLodge Children & Family Services bring awareness to child abuse and neglect and advocate for happy and healthy childhoods for all. CPN Indian Child Welfare Department caseworker Whitney Coots helps children of neglect and abuse improve their situation every day.
She sought a different career path while in college, but life events and interests opened doors for her to utilize her skills in an unexpected way. Coots graduated in 2015 from the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond with a double major in forensic science and criminal justice and joined FireLodge’s workforce in 2019.
“I originally wanted to do crime scene investigation. I love it. I still do. My major was a blast, but it is really hard to find jobs in forensic science,” Coots said.
She perused work in criminal justice and spent four years as a probation supervisor before accepting her current role as an ICW caseworker in September 2019. The change reset her career goals, unveiling a desire to help Native children and families.
“I didn’t understand the depth of the (the Indian Child Welfare Act) whenever I started. I knew what it was, and I knew the basis of ICWA, but not truly what it stood for. And so now that I understand that … protecting ICWA and Native American children is what I feel I was called to do,” Coots said.
For more information about FireLodge Children & Family Services, visit potawatomi.org/services/firelodge or find them on Facebook, @CPNFireLodge.