Opinions voiced here are not necessarily those of my employer...although they should be!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Summer of Hell , part 1

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.

Monday, April 18, 2011

So, a bad day at court today...

Santa Clausphoto © 2007 Matti Mattila | more info (via: Wylio)

Dear Editor,
I am 46 years old. Some of my friends say there is no Purgatory.  I know that if I see it in your paper, then it’s so. Please tell me the truth; is there a Purgatory?

The Unsocial Social Worker

Dear Unsocial,

Your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the optimism of an optimistic age. They believe that courts and communities want to do the best for all children. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their optimistic minds. All minds, Unsocial, whether they be men’s, or attorney’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an any, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world around him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Unsocial, there is a Purgatory. It exists as certainly as Permanent Managing Conservatorship, which allows parents to continually re-sue for custody each year, guaranteeing the child never really has a permanent home, and you know that this abounds to give to the attorneys’ and courts’ coffers their highest beauty and joy: more attorney’s fees and court costs. Alas, how dreary the world would be if there were no Permanent Managing Conservatorship. It would be as dreary as if there were no divorces, custody battles or supervised visitation centers.  There would be no unsecure placements, no wondering what will happen in court, no custody trials and no long term limbo for children.

Not believe in Purgatory? You might as well not believe in Santa Claus. You might get your papa to hire men to wach in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Clause coming down, what would that prove? But as long as children are not adoptable due to their parents still having some legal rights,( no matter how inappropriate they are, no matter what crimes they have committed, no matter what abuses they have committed towards other people’s children) there will be the legal limbo of Permanent Managing Conservatorship and cowardly people who choose it instead of making hard choices. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Motivational Magic

Or how you can be bored to death by a short bald ex-magician who wants you to join in on fun motivational games like "find your happy" and "cool or lame."


I had to tell a mother in her twenties this week that she will not see her child for about eight weeks. Not finding the happy in that. I am sure this motivational method is the bomb for Microsoft,. I'm sure the other Fortune 500 companies this man has spoken to  enjoyed the Musical Power Point Slides. But somehow, in a room filled with people who daily deal with tragedy and who  themselves are victims of secondary traumatic stress, Find Your Happy is trite and not exactly helpful.

And I like Polenta. Don't demean it by calling it Mushy Stuff.

Road trip....

It's my weekly trip to Austin, although this week, I have different adventures planned. After my weekly visit to a children's emergency shelter, I get to go to a luncheon to be "appreciated." Then I go to the "home office" to go to a meeting to learn why I didn't do my job. Paradox - not just for plowing fields any more.