Friday, October 13, 2006

What I Do

I have thus far not posted just about my job. I reference it, but mostly in my comments on other blogs.
I work for Child Protective Services. I am a case manager. There are two parts to this system. The first is the Investigative workers. They respond to the calls that come into the District office reporting any kind of abuse of children. They go to the child, evaluate the situation, and make the decision (after staffing with many people unless the child is in imminent danger) on whether to remove a child from their home. Then the child is placed with a foster parent or in a shelter (which is usually a house with 2-3 staff members and chidren of the same age), or with a family friend or relative. Then paperwork is filed with the court and the Judge decides if the child will become a ward of the Court.
After all this, the case comes to the ongoing worker, which is me. I am responsible to meet with the parents, the children, the care providers, etc. I set up services for the parents to participate in, such as psychological evaluation, counseling, parenting skills, supervised visits, mental health assessments, drug testing, drug dependency evaluation. I also set up services for the children. I meet with the kids once per month in their homes to make sure all their needs are met and that they are doing ok in their placements. I go to Court and report how the case is progressing, usually ending up filing to have the parental rights terminated.
Many of our cases are related to drug use. Meth. Parents using leads to neglect of the child and poor decision making. I have 2 sex abuse cases and 1 physical abuse. I have 34 kids on my caseload right now.
Most of my cases are the 'hard' ones because I have a high threshold. I am able to tolerate the cases my co-workers cannot. I do not stress out often, and use humor to cope with most things. Many of my cases go on for 2+ years because it takes a long time to change a plan to severance, then go to trial, then win. I get a lot of satisfaction from terminating parental rights and am usually not remorseful. Most of the parents I work with are really messed-up and their children deserve better. And my children have almost all ended-up in amazing adoptive homes.

I am good at my job.

And it drives me insane. Going through IF and watching these whack jobs have child after child is extremely frustrating.
I have a case right now that I have had for 4 years. It started off with Cee being the child on my case. She was 16 and pregnant and in detention. She tried to miscarry by throwing herself against a sink and refusing to eat. I took her baby when she was born and placed her in her current adoptive home. She is now 3 and very very happy.
Cee got pregnant again. She told me she was not pregnant, she had a tumor. She did not come clean until she was 8 months along. She knew we would be removing the child, so she went to another town to have the baby, then hid him out for 3 weeks - even after the Judge ordered her to turn him over. And to backtrack, baby1's father is a methhead, #2's father was in detention for selling meth at 16.
Then comes #3. She was born in June. She tried to convince us the child was 4 months premature so that the time would match up for #3 to have the same father as #2. Paternity testing ended that game and #3's father is John Doe. Cee just informed me she is pregnant with #4. She turned 20 in September. I knew she was going to do this because she would have to get pregnant again to keep dad#2 around since child #3 was not his.
We are working on returning her children, slowly. She is living with father#2 and working and they have an apartment. She has made some positive changes. She will always lie and make stupid choices, but at the end of the day the SYSTEM only requires a parent present no safety risk for their child and an ability to minimally parent.

So there's a taste of my life and why I often take breaks to surf the blogosphere.


chloe said...

Wow...just reading that made my blood boil, I can't imagine how you deal with it. You are very strong!

I know it is about the children, but keep in mind that you have to take care of yourself too. Take as many breaks as you need so you can recharge and continue to help all of those kids who need a voice.

Sounds like you are going to be a great mom.

Hopeful Mother said...

Wow, with that type of job it is practically impossible to not think about your own potential parenthood, infertility etc.

I am impressed with you - but as chloe says, a break from all of it, every once in a while, has to be a good idea for your own mental health.

How incredibly frustrating and heart-breaking.

Kris said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog to wish me well.

As for your job, I really admire your ability to cope with that. Reading about it sounds so frustrating- living it, for me, is unimaginable. I had a girlfriend who worked for CPS, I guess more on the front end and the stories she would tell were heartbreaking.

Bea said...

You must be amazingly strong.


Baby Blues said...

I'm glad there are people like you who are strong enough to stand up for these children. You're inspiring. It's sad really that many children are neglected by their parents while we are so willing to give everything to have and care for one. It's so unfair.
Keep up the good work. And I agree, you'd be a great mom!

Hoping For A Baby said...

You and I have more in common than our sarcasm. I've been a teacher, literacy coach, educational researcher, and educational consultant and every school I've worked at has been a "hard" school with "hard" kids, the types of schools that most teachers run away from as soon as they get the chance. I've sought out those schools by choice partly because I need the challenge but also because I have a very high tolerance for dealing with children (and their parents) who other adults have given up on. It infuriates me when people don't believe these kids can learn like kids in affluent, suburban areas. It infuriates me when I see teachers with low expectations. It infuriates me when I see how some of their parents don't care about their children's education. And so, when I tell a teacher or principal or parent off, I don't feel bad because someone has to advocate for these kids because each and every one of them has potential that is just as great as the kids who were lucky enough to be born into a more affluent situation.

There is nothing more satisfying to me than seeing a child achieving far more than anyone thought possible. Sometimes, it's just a pain having to deal with all the idiot adults in their lives!

NikkiNix said...

Wow. I really admire your threshold, I couldn't do it. I also find it funny that you post this at this time because my very "energy-attuned" aunt who meditates and thinks that you bring about your own energy in this world by your intentions said I was too negative about our IVF not working and that there are people who would pay ME to give their children a good home, and in my North American mindset I said - whaaaa??? She reminded me that there are young girls and girls on drugs that want the best for their kids and know they can't give it. She said and I quote: "If you go to Jamaica right now, to any hospital, within 5 days you will have a baby in your arms" The doctors will hand the child to you as it was left abandoned and the orphanages ca't keep up. Within 2 weeks, you'd have the VISA and adoption approved and be able to take the child home to Canada. GASP! I was simply flabbergasted at how simple she made it sound... I felt so ignorant at what is possible... but then again she makes EVERYTHING seem simple, and positive and just beautiful.

I cannot imagine how you cope in your job. Again, R-E-S-P-E-C-T my girl... I gotta give it to you!

CA Momma said...

You are so strong- I used to work in Victim Witness. It hurt me so much to deal with that stuff day to day. I admire you.