Three years ago.
We called it the Summer of Hell. Our staff of six was suddenly a staff of 2. My caseload went from a capped caseload of about 19 to 39 in about three weeks. Did I mention that the "optimum" caseload is about 16?
Adding to my misery was the fact that about five of the cases involved children in Emergency Shelters. Emergency Shelters are placements that care for children that we can't find foster homes for. The may have some kind of behavioral issue, or they are a certain age or gender that is hard to place. Emergency Shelters do a job that is difficult at best and impossible most of the time. And they charge the State a whole lot more. But, while our children are in Emergency Shelters, we caseworkers are required to put our eyeballs on the child weekly. Which isn't a problem when they are in town, but most Emergency Shelters are at least two hours from our town. Summer of Hell. I have to rent a car whenever I have to drive over 150 miles. There were 11 rental cars a month that Summer of Hell.
The weekly visits were not convenient. But I talked to someone who had been a fos ter child. She said that she was left in an Emergency Shelter and no caseworker came by to see her for three months. She was left in the shelter for three months with no one to tell her the plan for her life, what was happening with her parents or anything else. She cried when I told her that we saw shelter kids weekly and gave them our cell phone numbers.
I cried when I thought about how I was inconvenienced.