What does 6 months as a case planner look like? I’m not quite sure about anyone else, but as I gear up to reach the 6 month mark, for me, it looks like finally having some vacation time. It looks like having short-term memory loss and an even shorter attention span. It looks like 4 kids going home to a parent, 1 adoption and countless referrals, conversations and phone calls. It looks like rolling my eyes at the FCLS attorney, arguing with ACS, laughing with birth parents/foster parents and smiling at all the precocious things children do. I thought that by the time I finally reached 6 months, I would have it mostly figured out- that I would have found the perfect balance between doing the work and finding the time to still pursue the things that move me forward. Alas, I have not. I still work from 9 AM until 9 PM, never finding the time to sit before a piano and practice. I find myself prioritizing appointments and visitations for my clients during the time when I have my own personal appointments and then arriving to my voice lessons in the city over an hour and a half late. Some days I don’t comb my hair because I’m rushing to court for a morning general call and then I still don’t get before a judge before 4PM. I have kids sneeze in my face and babies puke on my shirt while their parents look sheepish. I still find myself unable to say “no” when parents ask me for one more favor or to do just one more thing. Most days I feel like I am doing something wrong or I’m not doing enough even when I know that I am doing the best that I can. Some days I sit at my desk feeling so lost and confused as the list of things the court and my families expect from me piles up. Endless B2H referrals, drug treatment referrals, parenting classes, getting updates from schools and service providers, following up with my parents to see if they are getting what they need from me, while trying to make sure that my families’ emotional needs are being met. Gosh, THIS is what 6 month looks like. It also happens to be what the one year mark looks like, the five-year mark looks like and even the twenty-five year mark looks like. I’ve watched my co-workers who have been at the agency for 5-20 years as case planners. Their days never get easier or more uniform. There’s always more to know and even more to do. So how do they push forward and find time to do good work? They maintain balance sharing their sense of humor and telling some of the most unbelievable stories. They spend hours talking to each other about their cases, they ask if anyone has any referral recommendations and when all else fails, they do what they can and stop when they need to, because tomorrow is also another day. They know that they are not there to fix people’s lives and that they are a resource.
This is what my 6 months looks like.