Interview with Chris Stelzer

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Chris Stelzer, Director of Family Support Services

Q: What is the name of your Department?

Family Support Services Department – We provide welcoming, person-centered, recovery oriented, trauma informed services to children and families in Milwaukee County. We employ a staff of full and part-time Providers who do the services of Crisis Stabilization, Individual & Family Training & Support Services and Mentoring.

Our goal is to keep children in the least restrictive placement possible with a strong emphasis on helping children to live successfully at home with the services and supports they need to safely do so.

Q: How do you feel your Department best serves our community?

We strive to give children, who have mental and behavioral health needs, the services necessary to help them be safe and keep the community safe at the same time.  By serving youth in the home, and working with their families as well, we can reduce the amount of not only hospitalizations, but also reduce the time spent in institutional settings which is ultimately better for the youth’s success.  Building relationships is at the core of the work we do.  Responding to and preventing crisis situations from happening, by teaching youth to manage their emotions, and teaching the skills of coping, problem solving, anger management and decision making, enables everyone to be and feel more safe.  With those skills in place, youth are much more likely to do better in school, get and keep jobs, graduate and go on to live much more productive lives.

Q: What do you feel motivates your employees to be successful on a Daily basis?

Family Support Providers are passionate about children and families and the work that they do!!  They understand that children are not just “choosing to be bad” and that parents are often just grown-ups who have not had the assistance and intervention they needed to help them when they were younger.  Providers are trained well and equipped to understand and meet the youth and families where they are at.  In Family Support Services we aim to foster a culture of family, appreciation, open door policies and support so Providers can feel comfortable and are able to get the assistance and support that they need to do this very difficult work.  Family Support Providers care deeply about their clients and are patient.  They understand that change is often difficult and can be a painstakingly slow process.

Q: What about your Department makes you the most proud?

ALL OF THE ABOVE! 🙂 The Providers choose to do this work even though it doesn’t pay enough and is difficult because they TRULY want to make a difference and help change the lives of people.  They are committed and go through a lot personally during the process; still so many persist and do this work for years.  I am extremely grateful for and proud of the level of diversity, in all areas, in my department.  We are extremely successful because we are diverse and we understand that it takes EVERYONE to make it work.  We believe that we are a team, Providers and Admin, and that one group cannot succeed without the other.  What makes me most proud is the large number of Providers who come to tell me that they truly love APC and how they are made to feel here.  They feel HAPPY.  They feel like family, like they are appreciated, cared about, seen and heard.  If people do leave, they often come back.  I think that says A LOT about who we are and the culture that we have created and I am extremely proud of that.

Q: What inspires you about APC?

OMG, I just said it all!! 🙂

I too feel like this is home, that we are a family of sorts and that I am allowed to be myself.  Not just that I am allowed to be myself but that I am appreciated and cared about.  I am incredibly proud of our reputation in the Milwaukee community and that we are respected, at a very high level, by our contracted partners.  That is true because we work very hard to follow our contracts, putting in place best practice training, supervision and support, and because we truly care about the welfare of the people that we serve.

Last, but not least, I am so inspired by our leader Pam Fleider.  She is truly a leader in every sense of the word.  She is at the forefront of all of our growth, progress and positive reputation in the community and within the agency.  Pam leads by example and supports each of us to be thoughtful about what we’re doing, think about why and how we are doing what we’re doing, to always be our best and to do things in the most client-centered, welcoming way possible.  I feel lucky and proud to be here at APC! 🙂

We want to know what inspires you at APC as well! Please share in the comments.

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