Hopelessness. Frustration. These are just some of the emotions I’ve felt since I began my work as a caseplanner. Perhaps it’s the reason I have neglected to post on the blog with the exception of my initial post: I’ve been hoping that with each passing day the feelings would also pass. To be blunt: it’s been rough. I have jumped right into casework with the knowledge I gained from training, a quick overview of my new caseload, and well-wishes from family and friends. I have done a little bit of everything: moving children from one placement to the next after the placement could not be preserved, mediating a family argument, spending too many hours at PATH (shelter intake), getting shredded in court, and having to explain to a child that I could not definitively tell them when they were going back home. As tough as these experiences have been, I’m grateful. I’ve learned much about myself, my resilience, and my determination. As one co-worker told me, “If you can do this, you can do anything”.
When a parent relapses although they’ve been doing so well and you’ve been rooting for them, how should you react? Or when a child begs you to take them home to their mother, how do you maintain composure? These are some of the situations I’ve found myself in. At times, it becomes emotionally draining: not only are you dealing with the stressors of families being (temporarily) torn, but there are also limited resources and high demands to mediate as well. At times, the caseworker can become “villainized”- the bad guy who took the children away, or the other bad guy who has not completed the 10 million (sometimes impractical) things an attorney has asked. Sometimes you wonder aloud if you’re even doing the right thing.
My unit co-workers have been my guides through these couple of months. Without their experience and advice, I would be so lost! The workplace is going through some changes, but one thing that remains constant is the willingness of my unit co-workers to help out when possible.
Although I’ve briefly discussed some of the challenges I face everyday, I have also had small victories and positive experiences. I have worked with parents who love their children deeply- and who are determined to overcome any obstacle to have their children in their care once more. Foster parents have gone to great lengths to ensure that their foster children are comfortable and connected with their biological families. Additionally, I have met service providers who are committed to reuniting families. I am hopeful that with time, I will gain more experience and learn how to cope with each new situation that arises.