Triangle on Tuesday: Barbara Rodriguez

ImageToday I am excited to highlight a staff member in the Triangle on Tuesday’s blog.  Barbara Rodriguez is the Supervisor of Family Safety Division which includes our DOSE (Developing Opportunities for a Safe Environment) Program and our Time Together Supervised Visitation Program. Barbara recounts her most memorable experience of her 4 years at Triangle Family Services as her recent interactions with a DOSE client diagnosed with terminal cancer.  He began the program as a court-ordered participant with a lot of anger and a really bad attitude.  By the end of his 26 weeks he asked to be a spokesperson for the agency and remarked that the program had “saved his life.”  Barbara commented, “This client epitomizes the difference we are able to make when someone wants to change.  The clients that are court ordered into our program usually don’t want to change at first; it takes several weeks of participation until they begin to see the benefit to examining their beliefs and actions.  But each time we get through to a client, we haven’t just made an impact in his life; we have also improved the lives of his family members and friends because we have helped him change his abusive attitudes and behaviors.”  Barbara doesn’t just have the antidotal evidence that the DOSE program is changing lives and helping families, she also can demonstrate some pretty amazing outcomes.  The national data on clients ordered to Batterer Intervention Programs is that 67% reoffend after a year of completing the program.  Only 2% of clients who complete the DOSE program reoffend after a year.  That is an amazing comparison.  I asked Barbara why she believes we have such a remarkable success rate.  “Our goal is to change attitudes not just behaviors.  When a client enters the DOSE program he is assigned a case manager who works with him throughout his time in the program.  The case manager meets with him if he is having issues in group, helps him access other agency resources if there are financial problems or mental health problems in the home, and helps him work through any issues that would keep him from attending group.”

Ironically, when you ask Barbara about her most difficult client, it is also the story of her biggest achievement.  She tells about a client who had very strong views about women and their subservient place in respect to men.  He did not appreciate his group leader being a woman and he was terminated from the program because of his attitude and negative behaviors in group and towards Barbara.  The judge sent him back to DOSE and during his second time through, he began seeing Barbara and the other staff at TFS as his allies rather than his enemies.  He engaged in the program and successfully completed it.

Barbara sees her role with clients as that of “compassionate accountability.”  “We hold the clients accountable for their behavior, but we also offer them hope.  If they make these changes they can provide better lives for their children.  They can choose to stop being abusive and that choice is what can break the cycle of violence in their family.”

Barbara is obviously a dedicated and passionate staff member.  I wanted to know about what she does in her free time.  As the mother of two teenagers she doesn’t have a lot of free time.  As a new graduate student at UNC-CH School of Social Work she is going to have even less!  Barbara was accepted into their part-time program and starts taking classes in August.  We are all so proud of her for being accepted into such a competitive graduate program.  How will she do it all?  She has an amazing team of professionals who work in the DOSE and Supervised Visitation program!  And, “who needs sleep!”

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