Strain on social workers rises

Strain on social workers rises

There are 75 comments on the Lowell Sun story from Oct 5, 2008, titled Strain on social workers rises. In it, Lowell Sun reports that:

Some days Melissa Geoffroy can spend more time driving in her car than meeting with families or catching up on office work.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Lowell Sun.

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“...first the spankings...”

Since: Jul 08

Not YOUR Uptight Rich Suburb

#62 Oct 9, 2008
completely disgusted wrote:
Perilous, go back and check, I have never made derogatory comments or assumptions about you in any of my posts, actually I commented that being a foster parent is a difficult job.
I was not asserting that a deli manager was comparable to a child welfare worker. My intention was to point out that no one is perfect and all jobs get messed up at some time. However, so many people in this state insist on degrading ALL social workers when one bad case hits the media.
My only intention of any of these posts was to point out that real people with real feelings sit at those desks and are faced with inexplicably difficult decisions and tasks every day. It sickens me time and again when EVERY social worker is lumped into this category of bad practice and laziness when that is most certainly not the case.
I have made no assumptions about you, go back and check, yet you assume I am a social worker and that I am an ongoing social worker and that I am someone who does not do my job. Did it cross your mind that I may be none of the above? ALL I am looking for is for DCF social workers to be treated fairly as individuals, thousands of whom have huge hearts and work themselves sick trying to do right.
Also, you assume I need or want a new job. Perhaps, just perhaps I actually love my job, have been doing it for years and years and love what I do. Maybe I am a homefinder but have been in the shoes of ongoing workers? Maybe I am an ongoing worker and struggle to keep up but at the end of the day know I tried my hardest to keep children safe?
JUST STOP MAKING ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT PEOPLE!!
I am responding to multiple people with my posts. It's not all about you.

Those people rude enough to suggest one needs to work as a SW to see how the systemic failings are somehow justified because of high caseloads are ludicrous. In my job I make less than a state SW, my husband makes more. Our jobs have less at stake and we still do not get to cut out at 5 p.m. because the office is closed, we don't get government holidays off, we don't get days off to go to Beacon Hill and lobby for raises, we don't paid for commuting or wear and tear on our vehicles. When most people in the private sector have a crisis at work, a deadline or a project overdue, they stay late and work more than their scheduled hours to get caught up. They don't complain to their bosses that their workload is too high, they just get the job done. If they can't or won't get the job done, they go find a new job (by choice or necessity).

They also don't get pensions, they are responsible for investing on their own in 401ks (for all the Charmin they're printed on now). Unlike the rest of us who will lose our retirement because of the market forces and greedy people in high and low places, your pensions are assured and paid for by us, as is your salary.

I really don't see how you have much to complain about in terms of workload and/or compensation. I'm sorry, I just don't see it.
completely disgusted

Fitchburg, MA

#63 Oct 9, 2008
Ok, that's fine, you don't get it, I accept that. I still believe that any person can not understand the big picture without being a DCF social worker.

Not everyone leaves at 5, lots of workers come in on weekends and stay really late to catch up. I've known lots of workers who never even put it for the comp time or overtime because taking a day off just puts the work more piled up when you return.

Child protection is not a 9-5 job. Until you leave your own children on Christmas Eve to respond to a 51a you can't fully comprehend that abuse happens day and night. Please don't say it is a choice to work those hotline hours, the reality is, someone has to and the emergencies need to be covered.

Someone posted earlier that there are "perks" to having a state job, and yes there are, true. But the other side completely balances and sometimes even tips the balance negatively to these state job perks.

Some one also posted earlier that the system needs a lot of work, that is very true, I have never denied that to be true. My simple point over and over is not to lump everyone together and just acknowledge that good things can and DO come out of this agency and there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of really good-hearted people doing this work.

“...first the spankings...”

Since: Jul 08

Not YOUR Uptight Rich Suburb

#64 Oct 9, 2008
completely disgusted wrote:
My simple point over and over is not to lump everyone together and just acknowledge that good things can and DO come out of this agency and there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of really good-hearted people doing this work.
A fact which I have acknowledged, you just refuse to see it even when I have pointed it out to you.
Enough

United States

#65 Oct 9, 2008
Bottom line, working for DCF is an impossible job. Expectations are high and many other professionals pass the buck to the social worker. Like any field, there are the good and the bad (including foster parents). There are many good, hard working people out there that sacrifice time from their own families and loose sleep over decisions made and conversations that they have to hold. Parents need to take responsibility for their actions and many do not. Other professionals need to do their job and many do not. Believe it or not, some people actually go to the DCF for help and thank their social workers for helping them.
completely disgusted

Fitchburg, MA

#66 Oct 9, 2008
Perilous wrote:
<quoted text>
A fact which I have acknowledged, you just refuse to see it even when I have pointed it out to you.
I have not once seen you acknowledge the possibility that there are LOTS of good workers out there who care about children and try to make a difference under incredibly tough circumstances, other than the 7-10 people in your area office you like.

If you, or Kevin in CA, or the other very negative posters, had just given me a glimmer of hope that you understand with that acknowledgment then I would have abandonned this blog a long time ago.

“...first the spankings...”

Since: Jul 08

Not YOUR Uptight Rich Suburb

#67 Oct 9, 2008
completely disgusted wrote:
<quoted text>
I have not once seen you acknowledge the possibility that there are LOTS of good workers out there who care about children and try to make a difference under incredibly tough circumstances, other than the 7-10 people in your area office you like.
If you, or Kevin in CA, or the other very negative posters, had just given me a glimmer of hope that you understand with that acknowledgment then I would have abandonned this blog a long time ago.
That is 7-10 workers I have personal experience with who are professional and do their job well, not "who I like". There are more in my area office who are on the opposite end of the spectrum.

I don't pretend to speak about other SWs "out there" in the country or other area offices because I have no firsthand knowledge of those workers, but my experience is probably fairly representative based on what one hears at support/community events and online forums for FPs.

When Homefinding calls for a placement and the first question FPs ask is, "who is the child's worker?" (as it commonly is), it seems someone would catch on that maybe there's a problem there. Children may not be getting placed in quality homes because of the social worker they get stuck with, and that's sad.

SWs are not required to attend (and don't) the MAPP training FPs go through and many of them have zero knowledge about how and what we are trained for. I'd be willing to be most can't even differentiate between cognitive, physical, social, and emotional behaviors caused by abuse/neglect and behaviors associated with developmental delays totally unrelated to abuse/neglect. In the MAPP training document "Early Warning Signs of Abuse or Neglect", fully half to 3/4 of the "warning signs" are typical of children with autism spectrum disorders, sensory/proprioceptive/vestibu lar dysfunction, and other developmental delays
completely disgusted

Fitchburg, MA

#68 Oct 10, 2008
I don't know why you make this into a tit-for-tat over who knows more about child abuse, social workers or foster parents. If you are looking for some acknowledgement that you sound intelligent, ok, you sound intelligent and well versed on child development.

Is it possible that online forums/groups/etc for Fp's are souding boards for displeased/frustrated fp's and the ones who are really happy and content with their experiences might not be reaching out for that support, therefore are not considered in the numbers of unhappy fp's? I don't know the answer to my question. I once facilitated a group forum of fp's about their experience for a graduate research project and found it to be a good experience for me and the fp's who participated had some concerns but were overall happy with their experiences as fp's. I am just wondering if this subgroup of happy fp's is out there but unaccounted for in the polls because they have no reason to gripe?

Just as workers don't attend MAPP training, fp's don't attend CORE training or other inservice ones either.

I am well-aware that the first question a homefinder hears is who is the worker. I find that deplorable that a fp would begrudge a child a safe home environment because they dislike the particular worker. Too bad social workers can't pick and choose who they work with for families or foster parents.

“...first the spankings...”

Since: Jul 08

Not YOUR Uptight Rich Suburb

#69 Oct 11, 2008
completely disgusted wrote:
I am just wondering if this subgroup of happy fp's is out there but unaccounted for in the polls because they have no reason to gripe?
Just as workers don't attend MAPP training, fp's don't attend CORE training or other inservice ones either.
I am well-aware that the first question a homefinder hears is who is the worker. I find that deplorable that a fp would begrudge a child a safe home environment because they dislike the particular worker. Too bad social workers can't pick and choose who they work with for families or foster parents.
FPs are required (as are SWs) to attend a certain amount of annual training. If those courses were made available to FPs, you would find many would attend. They have tried to make MAPP training mandatory for SWs, but the administration (mostly supervisors) balked and it didn't happen. MAPP training is available for SWs but they do not voluntarily attend.

It is important for SWs to know exactly what FPs are told regarding keeping appropriate house rules, cell phones, use of clothing/birthday/holiday fund allowances, use of cell phones, transportation expectations, curfews, sleepovers, etc. It would eliminate many sources of contention between FPs and SWs.

If a SW is going to prevent a FP from doing their job, it is good that the FP has the option of choosing to not work with that SW. Unfortunately, as you said, SWs do not have that same ability due to a shortage of homes. I guess they could combat that by a)doing their job and letting us do ours, and b) signing up to do foster care themselves (walk a mile in my shoes goes both ways).

But, don't you think homefinding and supervisors should take note of when it isn't just a personality clash or isolated incidents but a consistent pattern regarding one or two of the workers in their unit and many different FPs?
completely disgusted

Fitchburg, MA

#70 Oct 11, 2008
You have referred several times to children with developmental delays being mistaken for being abused. That confuses me. I have never ever ever heard of a case where a 51a was filed, 51b investigated, supported and children being removed all due to mistaking delays for abuse. Can you clarify that for me? Maybe I misunderstand what point you were making.

I have known Sw who are also fp's, but you aren't supposed to be a fp for your own office due to obvious conflicts there. I would not want to be a Sw all day and night then be a fp at the same time. There is only so much trauma and abuse I think one person can listen to/work with in this field without losing their mind.

I also don't think that requiring Sw to attend MAPP would work out. I think homefinders could do mini-seminars in the office to educate Sw on fp standards and expectations. One more required training on top of all the other work previously mentioned would send peple into a tizzy and be an insane request to make of Sw. I'm not saying Fp should be REQUIRED to attend Sw training either.

I still don't agree with fp dictating what sw they will and will not work with. Wouldn't a sit-down with that Sw and Fp and Sups be a more productive way to work out the differnces and clear the air instead of fp refusing to help certain children if they have a particular Sw?

“...first the spankings...”

Since: Jul 08

Not YOUR Uptight Rich Suburb

#71 Oct 12, 2008
completely disgusted wrote:
You have referred several times to children with developmental delays being mistaken for being abused. That confuses me. I have never ever ever heard of a case where a 51a was filed, 51b investigated, supported and children being removed all due to mistaking delays for abuse. Can you clarify that for me? Maybe I misunderstand what point you were making.
Obviously I can't share case specifics (who/when/where) as that would breach confidentiality, but there have absolutely been cases where allegations were made and autistic children were removed because the social workers mistook sensory issues for abuse. In one example, the child was noted as being "dirty" (most children with autism have sensory/proprioceptive issues which translates into not being able to stand being in the water and makes bathing a nightmarish scream-fest); running around naked (I know my autistic child can't stand the feel of clothing and strips to his underwear pretty much as soon as we get in the door); and for having "sexualized" behaviors because the child was exposing/playing with themselves at school (also typical of a delayed child who doesn't have social awareness or understanding about what is okay to do in private and what is not). The child was further traumatized by being forcibly held down by multiple unknown people and "examined" to r/o sexual abuse and even though no signs were found, was removed from the parent's home and bounced from foster home to foster home for over a week until the "72 hour" hearing finally commenced. Finally, the child's attorney was able to provide the judge with all of the evidence the SW ignored from the child's medical and therapeutic providers and ordered the child home. Talk about potential liability for the state (read: taxpayers).

As a result, the child regressed to YEARS behind his previously functioning level and they are still struggling to return him to that level. All because some stupid SW forgot to order her cheese.(See, when mistakes like this happen it isn't, "oh, well, lesson learned" it's a real child traumatized BY THE SYSTEM for years because of a SW's "mistake").
completely disgusted wrote:
There is only so much trauma and abuse I think one person can listen to/work with in this field without losing their mind.
And yet, people on here have advocated for FPs to work as SWs. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the...
completely disgusted wrote:
I think homefinders could do mini-seminars in the office to educate Sw on fp standards and expectations.
That would be a step in the right direction, but they'd still have to make it mandatory or nobody would show up.
completely disgusted wrote:
I still don't agree with fp dictating what sw they will and will not work with. Wouldn't a sit-down with that Sw and Fp and Sups be a more productive way to work out the differnces and clear the air instead of fp refusing to help certain children if they have a particular Sw?
A FP has every right to say no to ANY placement for ANY reason. It's one of the few empowering decisions they have in this whole system, so I say give it to them.(Your latter suggestion has been tried and failed miserably with a couple of FPs I know. They still refuse to work with that SW, and for good reason.)
Waahhhhhh

Nashua, NH

#72 Oct 12, 2008
You are the smartest woman alive.
Snoop

Plymouth, MA

#73 Oct 12, 2008
Here's how we solve this client problem. Have the DSS assign their clients to the illegals we are deporting. This way they get deported too! Solving two problems at once!
what the

Dracut, MA

#74 Oct 12, 2008
IF PEOPLE TOOK CARE OF THIER KIDS...THIS DEPT. WOULD NOT BE NEEDED....PUERTO RICANS AND CRACK HEADS SHOULD STOP HAVING KIDS THEY CANT CARE FOR.
completely disgusted

Fitchburg, MA

#75 Oct 12, 2008
Perilous wrote:
<quoted text>

I'm not calling you a liar, I just find that hard to believe that there was NO abuse happening. It is not easy to remove a child from the home, especially on an emergency basis, without showing the court how the child is at "imminent risk" in the home.
As a result, the child regressed to YEARS behind his previously functioning level and they are still struggling to return him to that level. All because some stupid SW forgot to order her cheese.(See, when mistakes like this happen it isn't, "oh, well, lesson learned" it's a real child traumatized BY THE SYSTEM for years because of a SW's "mistake").
Again, how honestly though do you expect a system this large to be perfect? Did you know the dept takes 75000 reports a year on average? Is it not better in worst case scenario to be overly cautious? This is where the damned if you/don't comes into play. If the tables were turned and the child was left in the home and in fact abuse was happening, the public would be in an uproar as well. DCF has NO WAY of pleasing all the people all the time, impossible.
<quoted text>
And yet, people on here have advocated for FPs to work as SWs. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the...
I never suggested SIMULTANEOUS employment as both entities. For either person, Sw or Fp I think that doing both AT THE SAME TIME is overwhelming.
<quoted text>
That would be a step in the right direction, but they'd still have to make it mandatory or nobody would show up.
If you advocate so much for Sw to attend fp training, why should it not be the other way around?
<quoted text>
A FP has every right to say no to ANY placement for ANY reason. It's one of the few empowering decisions they have in this whole system, so I say give it to them.(Your latter suggestion has been tried and failed miserably with a couple of FPs I know. They still refuse to work with that SW, and for good reason.)
Since you have so many well-thought out ideas about how to make the system improve, have you brought them to regional or even central? It does seem like you have an answer for every situation as to how it should/could be perfect. I'm not picking a fight, I am just saying that you have an answer for everything and I do disagree with many of them because I know what is and is not feasible in that work environment. Some of the things you ask for, believe me, are humanly impossible in the current system and there is no way to fully explain to an outsider how and why. You have to see the inner workings in action to really understand how and why decisions are made. Again, NOT picking a fight, just pointing out that it really is impossible for the public to understand what DCF sw's go through daily. I don't know what else to say to you, except I hear your frustrations.
Do you have ONE example of a good thing DCF has done for a child or a success story?
completely disgusted

Fitchburg, MA

#76 Oct 12, 2008
Perilous wrote:
<quoted text>
Obviously I can't share case specifics (who/when/where) as that would breach confidentiality, but there have absolutely been cases where allegations were made and autistic children were removed because the social workers mistook sensory issues for abuse. In one example, the child was noted as being "dirty" (most children with autism have sensory/proprioceptive issues which translates into not being able to stand being in the water and makes bathing a nightmarish scream-fest); running around naked (I know my autistic child can't stand the feel of clothing and strips to his underwear pretty much as soon as we get in the door); and for having "sexualized" behaviors because the child was exposing/playing with themselves at school (also typical of a delayed child who doesn't have social awareness or understanding about what is okay to do in private and what is not). The child was further traumatized by being forcibly held down by multiple unknown people and "examined" to r/o sexual abuse and even though no signs were found, was removed from the parent's home and bounced from foster home to foster home for over a week until the "72 hour" hearing finally commenced. Finally, the child's attorney was able to provide the judge with all of the evidence the SW ignored from the child's medical and therapeutic providers and ordered the child home. Talk about potential liability for the state (read: taxpayers).
As a result, the child regressed to YEARS behind his previously functioning level and they are still struggling to return him to that level. All because some stupid SW forgot to order her cheese.(See, when mistakes like this happen it isn't, "oh, well, lesson learned" it's a real child traumatized BY THE SYSTEM for years because of a SW's "mistake").
<quoted text>
And yet, people on here have advocated for FPs to work as SWs. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the...
<quoted text>
That would be a step in the right direction, but they'd still have to make it mandatory or nobody would show up.
<quoted text>
A FP has every right to say no to ANY placement for ANY reason. It's one of the few empowering decisions they have in this whole system, so I say give it to them.(Your latter suggestion has been tried and failed miserably with a couple of FPs I know. They still refuse to work with that SW, and for good reason.)
sorry, you have to read in the quoted text some of my questions/responses to your post, my computer got all jammed up ( And I DO KNOW how to navigate a computer despite your previous statements about DCF workers not being computer literate)

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