Today isn’t so bad. I got to work just after 9am and will probably leave around 4 or 4:30pm this afternoon — 5pm at the latest. This has been my day thus far:
-Arrived at 9(:15)am
-Played WWF (Words with Friends)
-Prepared for incoming children (gathered/copied paperwork)
-Talked with our soon-to-be first-time foster parents about the placement
-Completed the foster parents’ portion of the paperwork
-Waited and waited and waited and waited for the Department Workers to show up to the agency with the children. After they were an hour late I called their office and had to leave a voicemail. About 3 minutes later I received a phone call back stating that they were on their way to the agency, kids in tow.
-Talked with the Dept. Worker and foster parents about the case
-Talked with the children about going to John and Jane Doe’s home
-Completed paperwork with the Dept. Worker
-Helped get the children into the foster parents’ car
-Gossiped with my co-workers about various topics
-Completed progress notes
-Went to lunch
The time is nearly 3pm. I have managed to complete notes for 5 people and placed two children today. Not too shabby. Not too awesome either.
Some days, like today, aren’t so bad. Then there are days where you really want to simply — cry. And sometimes I do (cry, that is). Let me give you an example of that kind of day:
We got a referral about a sibling group of three. All we knew was that they were 2, 4, and 5 years old and that they had been severely physically abused and neglected. Well, we knew the eldest child had been severely abused because he was being released from ICU. He had died five times on the table since he arrived at the hospital. The doctors were not very positive about the child waking up from the coma they had induced because of the trauma he had been through. The child did wake up.
As we received more information about the children, I became more and more angry and so very sad. I’m tearing up now thinking about these little ones…
We learned that these children had been in a foster home (A F*CKING FOSTER HOME) for two years (TWO F*CKING YEARS). During these two years the children had lived through the worst kind of hell. The story of these children made the newspaper…
When we discovered these children were removed from a foster home, all of the social workers in the office asked, “Who the hell were these children’s case worker?” We are required to visit the home at least once a month and have at least two face-to-face visits per month with the children in our care. So, how in the fucking hell did this abuse and neglect get “overlooked” in a FOSTER HOME?!?! I am still hoping that someone (many) got fired over this monstrous disaster.
The children came to the office to meet their foster parents. These babies (yes, they are just babies) were so precious. The eldest boy was definitely the caretaker. He was so protective of the younger two siblings. He sat back and mostly watched the two younger ones playing as though he had forgotten that he could also be a child and play with the bright, fun toys as well.
On my drive home, I called my boyfriend. I cried. I cried and cried. I yelled and shared the indecency of the whole situation. But mostly, I cried.
The life of a Foster Care Social Worker is not glamorous. We do not get paid very much. However, we do get to make a difference in the lives of children (and adults). A friend of mine, also a Foster Care Social Worker, posted a wonderful insight today about our job:
I know that I am helping kids and families find their happy places. I really like it at the end of the day. I am making a difference in so many lives. If I do not wake up today, I know that I left a legacy of love, kindness and selflessness.
My friend has me checking my attitude about my job. I complain a lot about the work I do. I know that I love the kids with whom I work. The children are the reason I come to work each day.
So, there are good days and there are bad days, but regardless, the children are worth the bad days. I can’t say that I will ever “love” this job. I can say that seeing the bright eyes and smiles of children always make my day. The two children I placed today were nervous about going with their foster parents. The boy said to his sister, “We’ll be okay.” Kids are so — insightful and strong. Amazing.