Saturday, August 13, 2011

How the classes opened our eyes

I am a public school teacher and know a little bit about social services and how they work, and so does my wife.  But we learned so much about the law, the system and the people who work in social services.  The classes were basically designed to help us better understand the system, the people and ourselves.  I remember one night we did role playing and we had to act as a social worker and then a single parent.

For the social worker role we were given a list of ten phone calls that we missed today, and yes that is normal for a social worker.  We had a set amount of time to complete the call backs and knew that it was likely we would not get to all the calls, so we had to prioritize.  It was difficult because all the calls were important, but when you have a foster parent calling about some trouble the foster child got in to at school and the principal of the school also calling about the same child and how expulsion may be in order, it was easy to push the phone call from the person interested in fostering to the bottom of the list.  It was eye opening to say the least.
I remember when I first called and never got a call back I was kind of like, "wow, they really care can't even call me back in ten days."  After I did the role playing in class I felt embarrassed at what I thought of the person who did not return my call.  Social workers are busy people and everybody has an issue that must be solved RIGHT NOW!  When a social worker does not return your call in a week and you get all mad about it just think what that social worker might be dealing with that week.  It may be that one of the placed foster children has been being sexually abused by the foster family's 12 year old son and now the worker has to deal with the foster child being abused and the 12 year old abuser.  Of course when a 12 year old is molesting a 3 year old there are some questions that need answered right now and your phone call about your neighbor that yells really loud at their kids all the time may have to wait, or the call about your 4 year old foster child that cusses all the time, and loudly, AT CHURCH.  I know the system is not perfect, but right now I would not say it is flawed, expecting the fact that it is run by a bunch of sinful humans.  Maybe after we foster for a while we might say it is flawed, but right now it seems that things are set up to succeed, but sometimes don't.

When we role played the single mom who had to figure out how to pay the rent and get the sick kid to the doctor it was difficult.  The situation we were placed in was that of a single mom who works a minimum wage job, is on some type of assistance and has a sick child.  I think the deal here was that if the mom missed a day of work to take the kid to the doctor she would not have enough to pay the rent.  There are more details that I do not remember, but just about every time we had some solution the teacher would remind us that we are operating from a healthy stand point.  The mom in our role playing had no family to help, she has no knowledge of how to care for the sick child, she lacked to ability to talk this through with the landlord and son on.  It was pretty interesting to see that side of it.

Not the most riveting update, but I went from an attitude of hatred and condescension towards these "horrible" parents, to an attitude of pity and the desire to help even more.  Most of you reading this are pretty much normal people and we possess a set of coping skills that enable us to deal with difficult situations.  We have the skills because they were most likely taught to us, but many of the parents that find themselves in the system have no such coping skills.  What these parents do not need is some one putting them down, or treating them like second class citizens, or acting like they are just too stupid to have kids.  The fact is, some people have children and do not have the right skills to raise those children, so what are we to do, look at them and say "man, glad that's not me, those people are so screwed up." NO, we should help them, and if they are beyond help we should raise their kids.  I realize that we all have a different set of standards for what it takes to raise children.  For example some people think we should not be raising children and that we have "problems" because we have "taken religion too far" and others think we are great parents.  No matter where you are in the spectrum, I certainly hope that we could have some compassion on those who really do have problems. How will you help today?  


  1. well, i'm sure i speak for everyone i know in saying that i know my parents are the best ones out there. we're praying for you guys and the children you get daily. i only pray more families out there had the same soft hearts as you do. love you!

  2. thank you, we love you too honey!


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