Women & Work

Fernie Cosgrove

Child Welfare Social Worker Supervisor

It is our pleasure to feature Fernie Cosgrove, our book club coordinator as our Work Done Well Feature. Fernie please share with our readers a little bit about yourself and your work background. 

I am originally from Cd. Juarez Mexico. My husband and I met in El Paso, Texas and live in Connecticut with our son. From a young age, I was very passionate about understanding the impact childhood trauma had on development and child’s mental health. In order to understand this, I pursued a career in social work at the University of Texas at El Paso. Throughout my education I learned about the ways childhood trauma impacts every aspect of a child’s development – physical, emotional, mentally, and spiritually. After I obtained my bachelors, I worked in an afterschool program that focused on providing group therapy for children who experienced a diverse range of trauma, including urban trauma – the exposure to urban violence, shootings, food insecurity, etc. After my work in this group setting, I transitioned to a higher level of care treatment center, while I pursued my master’s in social work with a focus on child welfare and children and families.

In 2019, began working in child welfare in the state of Connecticut. Child welfare can be defined as “a continuum of services designed to ensure that children are safe and that families have the necessary support to care for their children successfully”. This work ranges from implementing diverse prevention and intervention measures to address concerns in families that make children unsafe. These can be substance use, mental health, intimate partner violence and/or ongoing educational, medical and emotional neglect. As part of my job I work with a guide array of community providers to ensure the children and families well-being. These may look like working with families and/or children who are in foster care, and working towards reunification with parents. Currently, I am a supervisor in this field, and oversee the day to day tasks required to implement the appropriate prevention and/or intervention measures, and use the guidance of my program supervisor to make critical decisions around children’s safety.

In addition, I started teaching as an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut School of Social Work, where I am teaching the new generation of social workers as they enter the field through the pursuit of their bachelors or masters degree.

As a supervisor in your workplace how do you lead those around you well and with grace? How do you show Jesus to your coworkers?

I will be completely honest: it’s hard! Day after day our work jumps from crisis to crisis, and there are always a thousand things to do, a few different families or children who need all of our attention, plus all the management expectations that we need to meet. We feel stretched thin, I feel stretched thin! In moments when I am stressed, or overtired it’s easy for me to become snappy, irritable and get exasperated quickly. In these moments, I need to stop and take the time to remember who has called me to be in this kind of work, and why he has called me to do it. After a few deep breaths, humility and sincere apologies when I make mistakes, I lead my unit by showing my imperfections, and my dependance in the Lord. 


On a day to day basis, I take the time to know what is taking place in the individual lives of the social workers I supervise, offer my practical support in completing tasks, and encourage them in the work done well. I do not shy away from sharing with them my faith, and sharing my hope in Jesus, offering prayer and following up on their needs. My office has Bible verses to remind me of the truth that sustains me day after day, and has the doors open for anyone who needs to sit and get some respite from the day. 

What are some challenges you have experienced and how have you seen God at work around you despite them? How has God used the relationships that you have developed in challenging times for His glory and your good?

A challenge I often struggle with is the act of balancing the callings God has given me both inside my home, outside in the community and within the body of Christ. Working 45+ hours a week, raising a child, being present for my husband, and living life within our church community is very challenging, and leaves me drained. But God’s faithfulness has been evident at every step! Despite the ongoing challenges of time, the Lord has opened ways to serve my home, community and be surrounded and active by the body of Christ. One of the things I appreciate the most, is the diverse people that love us and pray for us frequently. Their prayers are so necessary to continue the work we do, and the Lord continues to answer them by providing for our family, and providing the energy and endurance we need. I am also so grateful for our closest friends and brothers and sisters in Christ, who love us by feeding us! If you know me, you will know that cooking is not my strength, so having a home cooked meal made by a friend is always an incredible blessing.

How do you keep yourself encouraged that the work you’re doing is valuable and worthwhile when the world tempts women to believe otherwise? Are there any Scriptures God has given you to keep you present in the work to which He has called you?

Deuteronomy 10:17-21 always encourages me to remember that what I do day in and day out, despite how difficult it is, is according to God’s heart and pleasing to him: “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.  Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. You shall fear the Lord your God. You shall serve him and hold fast to him, and by his name you shall swear. He is your praise. He is your God, who has done for you these great and terrifying things that your eyes have seen”. 

In addition, Jesus echoed this when he said: “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you as a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Mt. 25: 34-40). 

Whenever the work gets hard, I return to these verses to ground my heart on these truths, asking the Lord to give me his heart, and sustain me in doing the work he has called me, for his glory. 

What advice would you give to our readers who want to get involved with helping the foster care system and the families who need support?

There a few things that I would say: 

First, remember that you are not far away from any situation you may be helping with. Romans 3:23 says, “f
or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. This is the first and most important thing to remember! Whenever we are helping children, families, widows, orphans, the poor and the outcast we have to come with the perspective that there is NOTHING we did to deserve to be where we are. If we do not struggle with substance use, are in unhealthy relationships, have significant mental health needs or trauma, it is only because of the unmerited grace of God in our lives. If you do not understand this, you need to examine the motivation of your heart before you get involved in helping others. 

Second, you do not need God’s special revelation to know that getting involved in serving others is what God is calling you to do. It is! All of the divine revelation of God, his Word, already says we are called to this! So go out and serve! 

Third, persevere when it gets hard, because it will. 

Fourth, look around in your community and see what are areas of need. Take the time to pay attention as you drive, in the news, and identify what the needs of the majority of your community are, then, seek ways to serve in those areas. 

Fifth, you will be uncomfortable and sometimes unsafe. Serving those who have the greatest of needs will take you to places that will push you out of your comfort zone, and to areas of your city you may otherwise avoid at all cost. Our hope does not rely on the safety of this world but on the imperishable hope of the gospel. 

Finally, remember that whatever you do unto these, you are doing it unto the Lord! Let that truth sink in and sustain you as you serve the world, for his glory. 

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