Social Work Topics: Law v. Best Interest.

Here’s a little snippet of one of my cases:

Kids were removed in August 2013 for neglect, probable possible unsubstantiated physical abuse, and dangerous housing. The birth parents are not doing well in their improvement period. The state worker is going to advocate that parental rights be terminated. The three youngest are in a foster home together. The foster parents want to adopt. A kinship home has an approved home study and they want these children (there are two older half-siblings in a different home that this kinship home is not interested in taking).

Law states that if at all possible, children should remain with family (kin).

My job is to advocate for these children’s best interest. I tell my families and children that I have three main tasks in my cases:

  1. Ensure the children are safe
  2. Ensure the children are healthy (body, mind)
  3. Ensure the children are happy

Here’s my dilemma:

At the beginning of the case birth mom was pregnant with the youngest of these children and she knew that she’d be having a girl. A kinship home stepped forward stating they were interested in adopting the baby girl should that become an option. They did not want the two boys. The boys were placed in their current foster home and the little girl joined them when she was born. The boys literally bounced off the walls. These were normal behaviors:

  • Biting, hitting, scratching
  • Pulling safety caps off outlets (I can’t get those out without some sort of tool)
  • Taking off outlet covers with no tools
  • Tearing all of their clothes out of the closet
  • Pulling closet doors off the track
  • Opening doors and dashing outside
  • Escaping from car seats
  • Climbing out of high chairs
  • Throwing food
  • Waking up with night terrors at least once a week

Now when I go visit these children they are well-behaved. They’re still very, very busy children, but the foster parents are able to keep them in line. They sit through dinner. They listen to and follow through with directions. They can sit for several minutes at a time without tearing something apart. These children are so completely different than when they were first placed.

Law states that if a kinship home is found that we (the children’s team) should do everything we can to place the children with that family IF we feel the family is an appropriate home. This family has passed a home study. I do not know if this is the same family that initially just wanted the baby girl. My fear is that if the state worker advocates that this family should become the caregivers of these children that these precious kiddos will end up back at square one – wild. And then, if this family decides they cannot handle the behaviors that they’ll just toss them back into the system…

My job is to make sure these kids are safe, healthy, and happy. I do not feel that these children would be healthy (mind) or happy if they left their current placement.

Decisions, decisions.

Really, this isn’t a decision. This is more like a I-need-a-game-plan-to-ensure-the-judge-sees-things-my-way type situation. I’ve received letters from service providers and doctors. I need to talk to the kids’ GAL (Guardian ad Litem) and get her perspective. I need to talk with my supervisors and have more advocates in the courtroom.

Sometimes the law and best interest of the children do not coalesce.

So, which should/will be upheld?

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Social Work Topics: Saying Goodbye.

Telling a client goodbye falls on an emotional richter scale like none other.  I’ve said goodbye to many kiddos over the years.  Sometimes I’m very joyful at the goodbye because the child is going back to his/her birth home and the situation is now good.  Sometimes I get pissed at the department and saying goodbye is difficult because the child is not going back into an optimal living situation.  Other times I’m neither happy or sad.  And other times the child is moving to an foster/adoptive home outside of my agency for any number of reasons.

That is today’s case.  This particular child has been in foster care for a couple of years.  He has been in a foster home, a pre-adoptive home, back to the original foster home, moved to a different foster/pre-adoptive home, and will be moving to his (hopefully) forever home tomorrow.  The home is not one of my agency’s homes and so I will no longer be working with this little guy.  He’s really not emotionally or chronologically little.  Well, sometimes he’s incredibly little emotionally.  Poor guy hasn’t had the ability to really bond with any family.  Bonding is one of those things that should happen just after birth!

Anyway, I had to say goodbye to him today.  He responded to the news of the upcoming move in his own special way.  He didn’t show much emotion.  He changed the subject.  He shrugged his shoulders.  He didn’t have any questions to ask.  When I said that I would no longer be his worker he said, “Really? That sucks.  No, that’s great. Good.  Whatever.”  My poor little, big guy.

I do worry about him.  He’s such a good, smart kid.  He’s also a handful.  If I could adopt him, I would do so in a heartbeat.

The good side is that the family he’s going to now is really, really amazing.  I really like them and wish they were a home through our agency.  I am hoping and praying that I get notified of the adoption hearing date so that I can attend!

Interns.

I apologize for my lack of posts recently.  I’m a poor social worker and I just recently moved and have yet to figure out if I can afford internet.

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The office got a new intern this week.  Interns are wonderful for doing the dirty/busy/boring/time-consuming work that the actual employees don’t want/have time to do.  For example, I work for a nonprofit.  As a nonprofit agency we need to find funding sources.  I don’t have time to sit around purusing the internet or dreaming up ideas.  My coworker works with pregnant women and infants up to 1 year old.  She needs a steady source of diapers, formula, blankets, clothing, etc.  She doesn’t have time to find all that on top of her work either.  These are the things we love our interns to do.

Our new intern is an undergraduate social work major.  She’s young and immature in the way that young adults tend to be.  She giggles a lot and seems like she’d fit right in with the popular girls from my high school.  Yes, I’m judging.  Everyone judges.  I tend to judge quietly.  Like, I would never actually say these things out loud or let these first impressions dictate how I treat her as an individual.

Anyway, while my intern and I were waiting for the new intern to arrive, I was printing a bunch of stuff, stuffing envelopes, and all that jazz.  I placed the stuffed envelopes on the new interns desk and put a bunch of stuff in the to-be-filed file.  And I said (out loud), “New Intern can mail those and file those.  Welcome to social work.”  My intern busted out laughing, telling me that was her favorite line of mine.

My intern is nearly done with her placement.  I will miss her when she goes.  She has been a wonderful student, quick learner, and, honestly, I hate filing.  But my intern has brought about a cheeriness in the office.  She’s always so bubbly and happy.  And we can talk real life stuff without those judgments getting in the way.  She has a heart for social work and will do well in whichever career path she chooses.  I’m quite proud of her.

Joys of Foster Care: Camaraderie.

I woke up at 5:55am.  My alarm was set for 7am, however a coworker had text me asking, “are we still going to the meeting today?”  Said meeting was 2 hours from the office.  My response: “it’s not mandatory.  So, no.”  She said, “Yes it is.”  I rolled my eyes and let out a loud, “UGH!”  So, my boss, this coworker, and I met at the office at 7am (I pulled into the parking lot as my alarm went off).  I had informed my boss (who also didn’t realize the meeting was manadatory) that I did not think we needed to go to the meeting and that I was a bit cranky.  I kept saying, “the meeting that was canceled last week was mandatory.  The email for this meeting did *not* say ‘mandatory’.”  But I got in the car like a good social worker and headed out to the meeting.

Shortly after getting on the road we were chatting about the weather, kids, cases, parents, and other social worky things.  About 3/4 of the way to the meeting place, my coworker received a text, “Community based workers do not have to go to the meeting.”  I glared out the window and wanted to shout, “I TOLD YOU SO!”  But, I didn’t.  We decided to go about another 20 minutes past the meeting place to one of the main administraive offices.  My boss needed to sign paperwork and I felt like visiting with my fellow foster care workers.

While at the office I completed supervision with my immediate supervisor, gave advice to another worker about how to get the state to send her current license quicker, and got a referral for four children ages 1, 2, 4, and 4.  They’re all siblings (yes, 4 and 4).  So far I haven’t placed them.

On the way back to our office, my coworker, boss, and I talked about men and dating.  This is a fairly popular topic since my boss and I are both single.  We were all chatting away happily through our lunch stop at Chipotle.  That’s when I realized I am so glad we made the trip even though the trip wasn’t needed.  I really enjoy the company of my coworkers.

Later when we were back at our office I received a call from a dear friend and fellow foster care worker.  He works for a different nonprofit agency in the same city.  We were chatting about 2 girls that will (more than likely) be making a transition from their current foster home with my agency to an adoptive home with his agency.  Then we discussed another shared case.  And then I asked, “did you get a referral for four kids?”  Yes, he did.  We discussed our options and concluded that he would call the state worker back to inform her that his agency did not have a placement.  And then I would call and say that I have placement IF we can split the children into two homes.  The two foster families are good friends and the kids would see each other all the time.

See how that works?  Talking with fellow foster care/adoption workers makes the world go ’round.  Of course, I haven’t received a call back from the state worker regarding our plan for these kiddos.  But, the agencies in this community are working together to really try and provide the best services possible to our children and families.  I love that.

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P.S.  I’m really tired.  This blog could’ve been much better had I waited until tomorrow to tell the tale.