I am a detective.
I have to ask every kind of question imaginable to understand each family. I ask about their income, public assistance amount, unemployment, drug use, disabilities (mental or physical). I ask about their backgrounds; where they grew up, how many siblings do they have, who are they close to, why don’t they talk to their father, their baby daddies, their baby mommas. I ask about every single personal detail you can think of that can be used in the future. It is hard to think that the smallest, seemingly insignificant detail, can serve to help a family. Most of this happens organically when clients divulge information themselves.
I am a therapist.
Families tell me so many stories of physical abuse, sexual abuse, growing up in foster care, domestic violence, and the list goes on. My job is to listen. My job is also to keep track signs of possible cognitive delays, mental illnesses, and any other impairment that may hinder their ability to provide a safe environment for their children so that I can refer the family to receive support from professionals. The other day, a 17-year-old told me that her grandmother had a stroke, she saw her mother again for the first time in years since she abandoned her, her sister was raped all within two weeks.
I am a bridge.
I refer families to service providers that will counsel them. I search the Internet frantically looking for resources that will give them grants for much-needed basics. Sometimes this happens at night, when I am home and I think that Ms. So and So needs some furniture in her home or that teenager that was a victim of sexual abuse that needs a good girl’s support group. I have emailed my coworkers looking for clothing donations for a mother and her two-year old who do not have winter clothing.
I am a parent.
Sometimes I am awake at all hours worried.
When I hear about something terrible that happened in the Bronx, I think about every child on my caseload. When they mention the neighborhood I work in, I panic.
The other day, as I was arriving to a home visit, a channel 7 van was parked right outside. I panicked. A sigh of relief escaped my soul when I saw my kids were alive and well.
On weekends, I worry that something may happen and I will not find out until Monday.
I am a historian.
I document every single interaction with the families, the interactions that occur between family members, and collateral contacts in the form of progress notes, court reports, and FASPs.
I am always amazed at all the details I remember of all the families I work with.
I am a preventive case planner.