First week on the job

I’ve just finished my first week with DSS and I think I’m settling in pretty well. The office is a little hectic but understandably so. If I’ve learned anything this week it’s that this job is all hands on deck. One of my supervisors told me that, while there are roughly thirty people in the department, only two of those people are actually caseworkers. Around this time last year, there were approximately enough cases for each worker to have a full caseload (which is around 15 cases) and right now they have almost double that number of cases. So I know if I’m feeling overwhelmed at any point, I’m in good company.

I spoke with my supervisors a few times about what I wanted to be doing at DSS and, while I want to use this experience to create a resource (this blog) for others who may be involved with DSS, who may want a career in social work, or who are interested in what they can do to affect policy change, I am also very much trying to get an idea of what I want to do with my degrees once I graduate. So, my answer to “What do you want to do here?” is always “Anything I’m allowed to do here.”

It turns out that’s the best answer I can give because sometimes the work that a typical intern would do, like filing or shredding or anything that might put me in contact with very personal information of clients, is very much off limits for me because this is a government job and I signed a confidentiality agreement and DSS promised the government that unpaid employees would not have access to those records. That makes my confidentiality agreement a lot easier to fulfill anyway.

What I can look forward to this summer is going out when anyone has to pick up kids or assess a living situation (I’ve already gone to pick up an abandoned baby this week), sitting in on meetings to assess family needs or how much money can be allocated to foster parents, reading manuals on policy, and writing grants for the director. She’s provided me with some reading material and has shared her love of the Brookings Institute with me which has given me some amazing ideas for future blog posts. There should be some excellent videos in the future as well as a review of the books she wants me to read and how they’re being used to direct DSS. I’m incredibly thankful that the director and I appear to be coming from the same place in terms of helping people here in town and I’m looking forward to the rest of my time here.

More next week!