Is Child Welfare the Job for You?

Is Child Welfare the Job for You?


I answered an ad in the paper and had no
idea what I would be doing. I thought I would be counseling
children, working with children little bit Especially right out of school
there’s like this sense of hope that like I’m gonna save
everybody I’m gonna wear my cape and I’m just gonna come in as a superhero you know and and that’s not realistic
but that’s that the thought that I came
in with that I was gonna save everybody I was gonna do simply that I was going to be everything that I could go above and
beyond going any working with um children who have been abused or
neglected om and basically helping those families
get back together are solving whatever issue there was in the family number of cores are
getting more more into the field as the years have gone by on there has kinda change my
expectations are things I thought that I would be saving
children’s lives every day and it would be a hallmark movie moment every day on it definitely ended up not being that. I had discovered that through this job
yes we do work with children we are working with children on a daily
basis but I find more so that we work with parents and we work with families. on it’s very stressful and very
emotional you can’t just you know kind of like cut it off. It stays with
you a lot especially the little kids you know and allow the times when they’re in
foster homes foster parents have your number and sometimes a little
bit older 5, 6 or 7, they still call you just to see what you do and sometimes. it’s kinda hard. It’s like they’re your
family also. you know you worry about them when I first started of course there was
way more difficult hi dreams about my clients and I L he know could but couldn’t really
struggle to turn it off you know what I left here especially as
you get more more teenagers they have cell phones or they have
connections to cell phones they’re calling you after hours even if it’s just to say
hey some do all which that’s always positive.
but they may be calling with a problem at eight o’clock at night are you know any you more than likely
are not going to ignore it. You are going to sit down talk it through you never know the weeks the until you
actually doing my job because coming in you don’t you never think you’re going
to see that being Nothing can really prepare you for a child fatality. you know for our home that in just
unlivable conditions that people are living in with no water no lights no gas no food. You know it exists but you don’t know the extent or how
frequently it goes on, because it does. I’ve been in homes, the wall is detaching from the floor. Homes with no water, no food. The smell is horrific. It’s just horrible. I’ve seen burns, face injuries, eye injuries, belt marks, wire marks, open-cut skin, black eyes, broken femurs, broken arms, to infants. I will never in my lifetime forget the smell of roach poop and rat poop. In your training, they’ll tell you, “Oh it smell like roach poop.” And you’re like “what’s that.” But once you know it, you know it. Sometimes we go to scenes and it’s a meth lab. We are there first, usually. Sometimes police are there before us. But they are dangerous, they have fumes, they have things that are toxic to breathe. We go in and sometimes get the kids out and they go to the hospital to be
checked out, but we’ve been in there too. you know then the police and hazmat
crew and all that comes in behind us and cleans. I remember one case I had where there was a toddler child in the home. Of course it was a meth lab, parents being arrested. toddler went to the hospital. Later that
night, six hours later when I wrapped it up and
got home, I couldn’t get my contacts out of my eyes. When I got them out, they looked like little Swiss cheese with little holes in there. The fumes had dissolved my contacts. So little things that you don’t think about, like the meth lab thing. I think that everyone knows that this job is difficult, but I don’t think you realize until you
actually get end to it that how difficult that is. people quit often and we’re in an office that is highly
supportive. But the bottom line is the work is very difficult. The work as hard and
almost un-doable. but no on the plus side no matter how
many difficult days we have when we reunify one family It makes it all worth the while. “When am I getting my baby back?” is the typical reaction. But I would think that they would be angry but they’re not. They’re really not. I would think… I guess they have went through that phase, the investigation, so once they get to foster care it more like ‘okay what do I need?’ It’s kind of like a partnership ‘What do you need from me and what do I need to do?’ I’m when I go into a parent’s home, ‘it’s usually how old are you?’ or ‘how many kids do you have?’ ‘are you going you’re gonna tell me
something?’ “you have no children, you’re going to tell me how to raise my child?” So it’s usually a lot of negative things from parents initially. but when you build the rapport with them,
their guards tend to let down easily and quickly. Typically, in my experience, families are reluctant to allow all someone else into their
lives. Once you develop a good rapport with
the family to help them to understand that you are
gonna work with them and not against them Get them to understand that their
child being removed out of their home is not saying that you no longer have
rights to your child or you will never see your child again. It is simply just to work with you to
ensure that your child can come back into this home. So once you get them to understand that is typically easier to work with the
family. Shock, most of the time. Shock. Me? You’re here to talk to me? My children? What? Who reported this? They feel like we go into a home, but we’re not gonna help. You know, We say all these things, but nothing’s gonna come through. and it’s not until you actually um
provide that service for them or really take action on the things you say you are going to help them with… Until then… Then they decide, I see that you are doing… You are trying to help me. So they open that door to your and they become more open to more services. If you listen… If you engage and you listen, I think one of the biggest a characteristics of this job is listening. Because if you listen, people are going to tell their story and then once they tell that story, you get
that information then they’re more likely to say “okay, at least they listened to what I had to say.” “They didn’t place judgment.” Even if the outcome is valid or custody is taken away from the parent, at least you took the time to get their story, so that does matter and that tend to take away some of the hostility, I find. You have to listen. That’s the thing you can’t cut short. We can take a lot of shortcuts in this job and we rush
through… You figure out what how to be efficient; however that’s one thing you can’t that take
shortcuts on. You have to let kids talk. A lot of times I find that they just want to tell their story. It may be a situation where something is going on and it’s just not the way it was reported. They just need people to listen and they’re looking for an opportunity or some help. If you don’t listen to them and give them the opportunity to tell you what’s going on with them then you can’t really help. I find a lot of them, initially, are upset and don’t know what’s going on but then once I talk to them and calm them down there really open to tell me what’s
going on and see what what we can offer as an agency to help. We joke around here you know
that I am the mother and the you know these are all my kids
and in reality I may not be their biological mother but in many roles I am
playing a mother i’m looking at their best interest I
looking at even like their physical appointment I’m
going you know the doctors. Going to school. Signing them up for schools. I’m
signing IEPs. meeting. I am a parent in the
ultimate sense and so on that weighs heavy. I have
to make decisions for children that are not my own as if I
was their parent. Just having the will to do. You know. Do whether that person is gonna accept you or not accept you. What are you there for? Always seeing the good in everything; that’s basically the number one, I would say. I do believe that people in life are called to a lot of different things. Some people are called to be a police officer, some people are called to be a chef, some people are called doctor I do feel like for this job, to be a
social worker, sometimes it is about a calling it’s about working on with people
because it is tough Being a social worker is tough because
you deal with the good the bad and the ugly. and a lot of times with this job it is
more dealing with the bad and the ugly but if you hang in there you do see the
glimpses of good, which makes the job worth it… To know that you
are making a difference in people’s lives Crises can happen anytime and are the most are important thing is to
be very versatile in this type of job. You do need organization skills; because if you’re not organized, you will… you know, it will be very difficult. I
think that’ll of course takes a lot of patience to work
this job. And it took it took me awhile to realize
this but to realize you can only do so much. You just have to be passionate about is this something you see yourself doing.
You have to be flexible. You have to be patient. There are rewards, but you don’t see them
every day or every week possibly. You know, there’s not much gratitude
in this field, but to know that you want to make a
difference for these children and their families. Our main focus is child safety. Is the child safe? Are parents able to manage what this particular child needs? Has there
been abuse to this child? Is there something we can do to fix
it or help it? There’s nothing like it, feeling like
you’ve made that sutble change, that little change, or
made even a big change that’s made a difference for that child. You
know they’re aren’t really any thank yous. You know
sometimes parents come to you later. They see you in court “Oh Miss Linda, thank you so much. I appreciate the help. We’re doing great.” Or maybe it’s not even a
thank you. Maybe it’s just “Miss Linda, we’re doing so great now. And this has happened and little Susie is doing good in
school now.” That’s the reward, just seeing that later. I actually went to school to be a social
worker because I wanted to work in it agency. I’m a product of the agency. I was in foster care when I was young; adopted to a great family raised up to be me. So when the opportunity came across me in undergrad to do the stipend program with the agency, I’m like I’m there. And then when I did my internship for those nine months I loved it. and I still love it. Sometimes is difficult;
sometimes it’s very stressful. It’s emotionally and physically draining at times, but I wouldn’t want to do anything else but
being the helping profession. That is a great feeling when you see
a family really work their caseplan and really be able to reunify with
their children and then on the flip side I would say
even though is very difficult to see a parent not succeed and have to terminate their parental rights, an adoption, of course, is also an
awesome thing. To see a child get a new family and ultimately get a chance to be successful in life. When the foster families get to keep the children, when they get the permanency, those are the ones that you never forget. They get a thrill out of it because they have been a part of this child’s life for six months or more so they become very attached just like the workers become very attached. The kids, number one, when they run up to you nd say, “Hey Ms. Heidi!” or when you reunify that family. And when you can reunify that family, knowing that you did your best. The support of the
coworkers, of course, that’s a very key The support of the staff. Letting them know or when they let you know that you’re doing a good job, you feel so much better and you’re wanting come back and give it another try the very next day. I think the most rewarding part of the job is knowing that if you can change one family or one child, I feel like I’ve made a difference. A lot of the times the parents don’t really do what they’re supposed to do. It’s too late for them because we usually give them a year, sometimes you may have a little more time to complete what every you need to complete, but the rewarding part is to see the parents actually do that and reunify with their family. And I feel like I’ve really done my job.

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