First Impressions: Social Worker – Trainer

I mentioned, in yesterday’s post, that we are waiting to hear about dates for January training. I’ll post in detail about our placement requirements in the near future, but know that this “January training” is a big one. We can’t miss it and because we’re going to be traveling 2 hours each way to get to the training sessions, we really needed the dates and times so we could start planning for it.

After wrapping up the post from yesterday I realized I was going to have to step up the effort on my end and start pinging everyone and anyone I could think of to get an answer. Which I did. This resulted in a call late yesterday afternoon.

Side note:

During our orientation meeting we were urged to give a lot of careful thought, discussion, and consideration to all our answers on the foster/adopt application – and to be honest with what we felt we could and couldn’t handle, including age ranges and ethnicity. “This will help us place a child in the best possible situation.”

VERY long story short, the call (yay!) was from the training social worker assigned to us. I didn’t get dates, though. The trainer started by asking about our preferred age range, and we went around in circles for a while, me becoming increasingly frustrated and confused. (You don’t even understand how short I am making this story.)

I was eventually told, flat out, that if we didn’t majorly alter our age range that our application would be rejected before training even started.

I had an “oh, duh!” moment.

That’s when I realized I wasn’t going to get any dates or times until I agreed to their terms. And that all the conversational frustration was because the guy hadn’t started out honestly about the terms. The whole “be upfront about what you can handle” thing wasn’t the reality of the situation.

Once I realized this I immediately said we’d do whatever they wanted and I immediately got dates and times for the next training. Magical.

dr horrible evil laugh from giphy.com

I feel like I would feel bummed about this exchange except I’ve been down this road before. (Not the adoption road but the government-is-a-huge-slow-moving-dinosaur-and-there’s-no-way-you’re-going-to-course-correct-you-just-have-to-go-along-for-the-ride road.) At the end of the day, I got the information I wanted. That’s a win.

I was also assured of a few valuable points that will be helpful for me to keep in mind as we continue this journey.

1) Social workers don’t give a crap about us. In the ginormous equation that is Child Protective Services (CPS) placements, foster families are the least important people. I say this without bitterness – if the goal of CPS is to get kids back with their first parents, foster parents are pretty much just necessary annoyances. I don’t think that approach (by CPS) is grounded in much reality, but I have known very few government policies or procedures that are grounded in reality. We can rage (ineffectively) about it or we can just deal with it and move on.

2) Squeaky wheel gets the cheese. This one is hard for me to do without going overboard and being a jerk but I’m going to try. I tend to vacillate between increasing frustration that no one is responding to my one email from three weeks ago and extreme, rage-filled email blasts to anyone associated with what I want. In truth, a constant low squeak is the most effective. Just keep pinging. Eventually someone will get back to me.

3) Foster/adopt from a state agency is like the DMV on steroids. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is notorious among ineffective government agencies that provide an important service to the general public. The kicker is that, if you want a driver’s license, they are the gatekeepers. You can protest their nonsense all you want but if you do you’re walking out of there without a license. This foster/adopt thing is shaping up to be a similar experience.

4) All the cliches are real. It’s nice to know that we’re not alone. This whole process has been endured so many times that it’s been refined to a series of short observational comments. With that in mind, I’m counting on the most-used cliche of the whole bunch:

In the end, it’s all worth it.

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