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I’m Going to Change the World for Kids and Families

Sarah Dubuc, MSW Candidate

  • Practice Area:
    Management of Human Services
  • Concentration:
    Community and Social Systems
  • Scholarship:
    Olivia P. Maynard Children and Family Fellowship

“I have a passion for working with children and youth affected by foster care,” says MSW candidate Sarah Dubuc. “I want to connect families with resources and help produce resources that don’t yet exist. I want families to have a chance.”

Sarah and her husband have had several foster kids, and they have seen the how the system fails biological families. “We have seen biological parents burdened with high expectations but given little support, few resources, and no one to walk them through the system,” Sarah says. “So of course some fail. Foster parenting is meant to help biological families stay together whenever possible, but it’s not happening. Seeing that pushed me to where I am now.”

Sarah grew up in Royal Oak, Michigan, north of Detroit. At Oakland University in Auburn Hills, in the 1990s, she worked with children who were experiencing homelessness as part of her AmeriCorps placement. After she graduated in 2001, she volunteered in the foster care field, and she and her husband took in foster children. Today, they live in Milford and care for six girls, ages six to 14. Sarah helped co-found Mission 1:17, a nonprofit organization providing semi-independent housing for youth transitioning out of foster care. In the process she decided she needed more education to understand what was happening in foster care and how she could make an impact. “I wanted legitimate credentials and deep knowledge,” she says. It was time for a master’s in social work. One place stood out.

“It had to be local,” Sarah says, “because I had a family to care for. My husband pointed out that U-M was the number one school of social work, so that did it! U-M also runs on my side of the family, so I thought it would be cool to continue the generational thing, though I have not been to a football game in a while!”

The financial strain, however, would be great. Sarah’s oldest would soon start college, with five more to follow. She and her husband decided to take out a home equity loan. Then came news that Sarah had received an Olivia P. Maynard Children and Family Fellowship. “I flipped out and texted everyone!” Sarah says. “Now I knew I wouldn’t have to think about paying all those loans back later. It was very helpful to know that some of the cost was already taken care of.”

But even with finances settled, she still worried about returning to school as an older, “nontraditional” student. “I thought I would feel uncomfortable in the classroom,” she says, “but it was very welcoming and easy to connect with fellow students. I’m getting into policy now. I’m really interested in where laws come from and how policy affects agency programming.”

At her field placement at Ann Arbor’s Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange, Sarah connects families to services, she is learning about resources available for adoptive and pre-adoptive families and older youth aging out, and what’s happening in adoption and foster care policy. “I have considered starting my own organization,” Sarah says. “I could also see myself on the policy side. Coming to U-M really defined a perspective shift for me, seeing how systemic problems and policy shifts affect how kids and families are served and where money is invested.”

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