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Episode 231: Lessons from a 30-Year Career in Social Work (w/ Carmen Nance)

Nobody starts working in the foster care system because they think it’s going to be easy.

The truth is, despite how deeply fulfilling a career in this field can be—it can also feel stressful and discouraging at times. For both new and experienced workers, it’s easy to feel defeated and wonder if the work you’re doing is enough. 

If there’s anyone who can help us understand this better, it’s Carmen Nance—a woman with 30 years of experience serving the foster care community as part of the State of Georgia/Cobb County Department of Family and Children Services.

In this episode, Carmen shares the valuable insights she learned from interacting with people from every side of the foster care system, why a community of supportive peers is crucial for workers in the foster care community, what social workers wish people knew about the challenges and rewards of this role, and so much more. 


1. Working alongside the foster care community gives you perspective.

Even though Carmen often felt overwhelmed by all the responsibilities and obstacles that come with serving children and families impacted by foster care, she’s grateful for the life lessons these experiences taught her—lessons in compassion, empathy, and gratitude. Like many people who work closely with this community, Carmen says her career gave her a new awareness of the challenging circumstances many people face in their lives.

“It expands your perspective. You learn a lot about compassion, empathy, and what others are going through.”

2. You don’t always get to see the seeds that you planted bloom.

Social workers put in time every week to help families and children connect with the resources they need. But unfortunately, workers don’t always get to see the fruition of their efforts. However, this doesn’t mean they haven’t made a lasting difference in the lives of the people they serve.

“Social work matters. It’s a powerful profession with a profound impact on our communities.”

3. In challenging times, find something small to smile about.

This work requires resilience, the ability to compartmentalize strong emotions when needed, and sometimes, a willingness to find the silver lining of a dark situation. When you’re feeling discouraged, lean on your community, lean on God, and take a moment to remind yourself of all the meaningful work you’ve helped to set in motion.

“Self-care is essential, and it’s vital in this line of work.”


We hope this episode has helped you wherever you are on your foster care journey. That’s the goal! If so, will you tell others?

Share this post or rate the podcast on Apple Podcasts (or wherever you listen) and leave us a brief review

Meet Our Guest

Carmen Nance proudly served in a variety of roles with the State of Georgia/Cobb County Department of Family and Children Services for 30 years before retiring in 2024. Most recently, she had taken on the position of this organization’s Deputy Director for 6 years. Carmen enjoys mentoring, coaching, and working with staff to help them grow and develop. She also loves serving and encouraging clients to help them reach their full potential. Carmen obtained her undergraduate degree in Sociology emphasizing Social Work from Georgia Southern University and her Master’s Degree in Social Work before earning her clinical licensure. Today, she is married with two adult sons, and she lives in Powder Springs (Cobb County), Georgia. In her free time, Carmen enjoys crafting, baking, and reading.

Foster Parents, check with your agency to see if listening to this podcast will count toward your foster care training hours!


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