There is a bit of a phenomenon that happens when people decide to retire and I bet you can guess what it is…. Short timers syndrome! Ok, I am not really there but let me tell you that after spending the month of May attending a few different conferences and meetings only to have your worst suspicions confirmed, it is disheartening and makes me wish I could speed up the clock! Actually, it makes me wish I could wave a magic wand or say a spell and *POOF* every family would be healthy, loving, and functional. I work in child welfare and the last few years have been exceptionally hard. My role is to recruit,train, and supervise child advocates to represent children in court who are in the foster care system. Not exactly work for the faint of heart to start with.
I absolutely love my job. I love the kids I work with. I love most of my colleagues. I hate stifling and ill fitting policy and bureaucracy. I hate that our social workers are not paid or supported enough and this leads to significant turnover which leads to delayed permanency for our kids in care. I hate that parents are generally only given two, two hour visits per week if they need to be supervised because the Department lacks the resources to provide more and frequently, even those minimal visits aren’t happening.
Earlier this month I was interviewed on a local radio station about what it is we as CASA’s (Court Appointed Special Advocates) do and how we can make an impact on the life of a child in system. (You can listen to it here if you are interested) I stressed the importance of CASAs and GALs (Guardian ad Litems) in the current turmoil that our county is experiencing. If you are interested in learning more about becoming a CASA, visit www.wacasa.org for Washington State or www.casaforchildren.org in other states.
While I can neither speed up the clock nor wave a magic wand, I can focus on what I can do over the next 2 years, 10 months and 17 days to improve anything and everything in my control to help the system run better. Our kids deserve to have visits with their parents, they deserve to go home if it is safe enough, they deserve to be adopted when reunification isn’t an option, they deserve to be loved. They deserve to wonder what they will be when they grow up and they deserve to sit on this side of the keyboard, planning for their retirement.