With apologies to Arnel Pineda, I've stopped believing in the past few weeks.
My two teen moms both had turns for the worst. The first one got arrested and is detained at juvie because the D.A. decided to file against her for child endangerment. She had a delinquency hearing that I missed because I was dealing with another Court matter, and I also think that she needs to take responsibility for what she's done. Her case got transferred to Juvenile Probation anyway, so I'm not handling it. All I can do is still try to maintain her visitation schedule. Which isn't easy, especially when I don't have that kind of time.
And that's because of the other teen mom. I found out today that she and her foster mom have been running a kind of scam; she's allowed to stay overnight at her boyfriend's house and various other houses, and the foster mom gets her money. Foster mom called me this morning saying she didn't come home last night (which I later discovered was a pretty common occurrence, as I mentioned). She had a visit with her daughter at the office today, but because she didn't come home, I canceled it by calling her baby's foster mom and telling her not to bring the kid. I had to go to a Livescan appointment this morning and when I got back to the office, the teen mom was there. Apparently somebody had dropped her off for her visit. She was raising hell about not getting her visit.
Everybody knows when this teen mom is in the office. We get a lot of kids in the office. Sometimes, foster parents who are frustrated just take the kids there and drop them off, and the worker has to figure out where to place them immediately. Other times, the placement does what it's legally required to do by giving seven day removal notice.
But most kids don't show up at the office screaming profanities at everybody and trying to act all tough. My teen mom isn't "most kids". When she's there, everyone knows it. And I think it kind of scares them. It used to scare me a little bit too, but I'm used to it. But more than that, I still have a job to do.
Once we found out about this secret agreement with her foster mom, my supervisor and I determined that there was no way she was going back to that foster home. The problem is that there aren't many (or any) foster homes that will welcome a pregnant kid with mental illness, oppositional/defiant behavior, heavy gang involvement, and a tendency to cuss out anyone who she determines to be "not helping" her.
I took her into the office area and had her sit at my desk. Even though I told her she couldn't use the phone, she figured out how to dial 9 and then the number and was talking to someone from the gang. Well, that's only a guess. She was telling the person on the other line to find "Blinky" and have somebody "dealt with". I asked her to get off the phone, to which she angrily replied "Why?" I told her that I had other work to do and needed to use the computer. For some reason, that worked.
She refused to sit in a chair; just sat on the floor and started kicking a box and complaining about social workers using lots of words that you don't expect kids to use when they're surrounded by adults.
I'm used to this kid. Over the past two months, I've seen her at least three times a week (sometimes five times a week). I've heard everything she has to say about social workers and this morning I didn't feel like arguing with her or even trying to reason with her. It's hard to get me riled up, and again...I knew that I would have to find a placement.
Well, another worker came by. I'd seen her in the office before, but had never really spoken with her at length. She asked if she could talk with teen mom, to which I gladly agreed. This gave me a little peace to handle my work and it was much appreciated.
Then another lady stopped by my desk and asked if I was okay. I said I was. She tried to reassure me by saying that working with this case will help me in the future, because I'll be ready for anything and I'll know how to handle it. That was nice.
I also received a lot of support from other staff members. A lot of people know this girl--she's 17 and has been in the system since she was 3. The public health nurses stopped by to check in with her, and so did the case aide who helps me monitor her visits with her daughter.
Teen mom was yelling about how the stuff I was doing was making her stomach hurt and how she was going to lose her baby. I'd heard that before, but the case aide asked if teen mom wanted to go to the hospital to which she replied in the affirmative. Oh, great. But the case aide volunteered to take her there. Wow. Of course that was fine with me.
While teen mom was gone, more people stopped by to check in with me to make sure I was okay and to ask if I needed any help. Everyone has work to do; nobody else is responsible for MY stuff, but all of these people were willing to contribute. Some people had connections with different placements, other people offered to help me call names on the list of possible homes.
All the while, the case aide was at County Hospital with this teen mom. That couldn't have been easy. I heard from her when she was at the hospital. The clinic is always jam packed, and she said they might be there awhile. She was scheduled to monitor a visit from 2:00-4:00 and asked if I could find someone else to handle it. I didn't want to ask anyone, so I just planned to monitor it myself. However, I found the worker for that visit and she told me to just take care of my own stuff and that she would monitor it. Wow.
This post has gone on for too long, but in the end, everything worked out as well as I could have hoped for. It's not done by any stretch, but I got home a little after 7 and took my nap.
There have been times of frustration over the past month when I've responded to people, only half-jokingly, that people can't really change. I think that may be true. But for all the awesome coworkers who stepped in to help me in my time of need, I hope they don't change.
The guy who sits next to me has been a CSW III at the County for 22 years. By contrast, when I promote to CSW III next year, I plan to do that for the required year and then promote into administration (if I even last that long!). Somehow, this guy still seems grounded and calm when things go wrong. We chat while we're doing work, and I'm trying to catch a hold of his attitude and what makes him tick. What he says is correct: you have to do what you're responsible for. But when your day is over, get the hell home and take care of your life. You might have a bunch of other stuff to do when you get back the next day, but you have to train yourself to hit the switch that turns off work until then. I'm writing in my blog so I don't know if it counts, but I'm gonna do my best to follow his advice.