Hurry up and wait

Last week I posted a really in depth discussion of LARCs and this week I had planned another fairly in depth post but I’m waiting on some official resources. I want it to be the best post it can be so stick with me until I can give you something big.

This week’s post is going to be an update that will hopefully lead to discussion and some ideas for future posts. I’ll give a list of some of the things I’ve done in the past few weeks and if I get a lot of feedback on one or more of them then I’ll make a longer post. I want people to read about things they’re curious about not just a journal of my work or just the things I find cool.

Things I have done:

  • Made calls to shelters to find placement for a domestic violence victim and her daughters. Simultaneously discovered that finding a shelter with space between Fauquier and Richmond is nearly impossible.
  • Went with my supervisor (who works in Child Protective Services) on a visit to a child who is struggling to stay in school
  • Went on several visits with my office buddy (who works in Adult Protective Services) to check on her clients. Many of these trips were to make sure they had someone to take care of them if they were disabled, to see if they were able to pay bills (for many reasons), or to see if reports of elder financial exploitation were valid.
  • Attended a seminar led by Charlie Appelstein based on his strength-based practices directed at working with traumatized children. His work is amazing and I think we could drastically change schools and parent-child relationships everywhere if we used the tools he provides. Read his book “No Such Thing as a Bad Child” or check out his Facebook page:¬†
  • Sat in on many meetings. Most of those were about reports the DSS had gotten about families but one was an abbreviated FPA (Family Partnership Assessment) and one was to confirm the details of some cases with the DSS attorney.
  • Went on a few trips with another CPS worker who needed to remove children from homes. I just want to add that there are always a few warning to the parents who have issues that take time to correct (usually related to cleaning or getting an exterminator) so we don’t just pick up children on the first call. If a child is in extreme danger or has been left alone and cannot take care of themselves (such as a very young child or a child with certain disabilities) then more immediate action may be pursued.
  • Picked up some donated walkers and cleaned out an old company car
  • Went to court to watch the proceedings of some of my supervisor’s cases
  • Learned that the DSS building has bi-annual crises related to heating and cooling and that it is nearly impossible to plan a professional outfit that will keep you cool but is also suitable for some of the living conditions I may walk into (I.e. wear close toed shoes at all times and clothes that are easy to wash).

So that’s been the job for the most part. I’m hoping some of these points raise question that I am allowed to answer. I promise that I have a great post planned for next week and I will continue to have great posts planned related to any feedback I get (on this post or otherwise).

More next week!


#1 Erin Grasse on 06.02.16 at 11:56 am

To say that it sounds like you’ve been busy would be an understatement! I’m curious about a few things you mentioned:

1. Is the reason it was so hard to find placement for the victims of domestic violence because of a lack of space in the available shelters, or because there aren’t enough shelters to begin with? Or both? I live about 15 minutes away from Fauquier county, so I know it’s at least 2 hours from Richmond, and the fact that there’s no space in between for these people is both disturbing and concerning on several levels.

2. Does Social Services provide counseling/referrals for traumatized children and adults?

3. How much of an emphasis is there on creating safe spaces for LGBTQIA* youth and adults?

4. How do you and your coworkers practice self-care in light of the difficult situations you encounter every day?

I’m excited about these upcoming blogposts; keep up the great work!

#2 Sadie on 06.02.16 at 12:30 pm

Wow! Thank you for the response! I will do my best to answer all of your questions.

1. The reason I was struggling to find a place for this woman and her children was mostly due to how full all of the shelters are currently. One of the women I spoke to on the phone says that the spring is often when they get a lot of calls. She says she assumes it’s because these women have been mostly trapped all winter in these bad situations and the better weather feels like they have more opportunities to leave. The other issue I had was that I wasn’t just finding a bed for one person but for three people at once which is even harder. And finally, there are a few shelters between Richmond and Fauquier (I’d say I called maybe 7 places) but some of them don’t take in victims of domestic violence. So there are places that exist for women who may need shelter but more spaces would be ideal. Actually, less instances where these women need shelter would be ideal but for now just being able to provide them with resources would be great.

2. Social Services finds counseling for traumatized children and adults. Meaning they don’t have in house counsellors but they do provide those services to people that need them. The differences in the processes are a little complicated to explain but it depends on what department is dealing with the case. So if CPS is handling something then the counseling could be mandatory (and often is I would say) so that the child can recover and potentially be returned to their parent(s) if that is a concern. For adults involved with APS, counseling can be offered but because they’re adults they don’t have to really do anything they don’t want to. If the adult is involved in a CPS case than usually they would go to counseling to help better themselves and their relationship with their child in order to reunite a family.

3. This question is a little hard for me to answer because it hasn’t really come up. As far as I know, we haven’t had a case with any LGBTQIA+ identified people or if we have, they haven’t requested or indicated a need for services related to their identity. Based on what I know about my coworkers, I know they would do everything in their power to find safe places for LGBTQIA+ people. And the office itself is certainly a safe space. Otherwise, I don’t know of specific services that are offered. This might be a good thing to look into for a future post though!

4. This will be something I ask my coworkers about in the future. I think so far I have heard from a lot of them that they just continually remind themselves that they do this job because it’s very much needed. My office buddy goes on daily walks to clear her head and because exercise gives you a rush of endorphins. Everyone in the office is really friendly so a lot of the time people talk things through with coworkers if they feel really down about a case. Personally, if I’ve had a hard day I make sure to eat something nutritious to boost myself up or I ask if I can work with someone doing something less intense. Not everyone has that last privilege but I also have to remind myself that I’ve only been working for three weeks so it’s okay to ask for that sometimes.

Thanks again for the comment! I hope this answered your questions.

#3 Suzanne Raitt on 06.13.16 at 5:51 pm

Hi Sadie — Thanks for this great post. I am in awe of the range of different things you are doing. What a great learning experience. I’m wondering if there’s any single theme emerging from everything you’re doing: like maybe you are becoming aware of some programs that work really well, some that work less well, populations that are well served, populations less well served, etc. Also, another thing I was wondering: when you go to court, what role is your supervisor playing? Can you see yourself doing whats/he does in a few years? Keep up the good work!

#4 Sadie on 06.14.16 at 9:43 am

Honestly, the single theme I’m picking up from DSS is busy. People are constantly in meetings to provide benefits or out on home visits talking with clients or looking for new hires so that things will eventually be less busy. From what I can see, our foster care program seems to be in good shape. The woman who organizes foster care info events and who screens foster parents is wonderful and really knows the cases that lead to children ending up in foster care which is important for properly meeting their needs. People apply to be foster parents of their own volition and all of the ones I have encountered should be sainted or something. Like I met one woman who took on five kids at once when she already had three kids of her own. I spoke with another woman who took on three kids with an hour’s notice. When something goes down with CPS, I feel like once we contact a free foster family that the kids will be totally fine and that’s fantastic to know. So with this foster care worker and the foster parents I have seen I’d say this one of the most solid programs we have. Not to say that the others aren’t but they’re a little harder to determine whether the population is being well served.

Also when I go to court, my supervisor is usually there to provide history and act as a witness on behalf of the child’s needs. He works specifically with cases involving children so all of the cases I see involve people under the age of 18. And sometimes the cases involve parents doing what they need to do to provide a healthy and supportive environment for their children and they get their kids back and that’s amazing. Other times the cases involve legal action to provide counseling or therapy for trauma and those are really hard to hear. My supervisor’s job is really difficult and I think I would have to be a much stronger person to deal with it daily so I’m not 100% I could do it. I have spoken to him about doing counseling or therapy in the future and he mentioned recommending me to an organization that does (apparently amazing) counseling for some of the kids he works with. I may end up doing something like that because I know how much that is needed and it’s more in line with what I think I could handle.

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