Right now, in my state, there is a disaster of a social services system.
There is good ol’ boy politics at play.
There is red tape.
Complicated bureaucracy at its worst.
There is insufficient accountability for what is done and not done that directly affects one of our most unprotected group of humans.
The South Carolina political world has proven to be all narcissism and complication.
We have multiple problems at play here.
But one of our largest, and in my opinion, easily fixed, is the issue of caseworkers.
Caseworkers are underpaid, overworked, and then hugely criticized when their absolute best efforts are mediocre. But what else could they be?
In one county, according to our DSS Oversight Committee, ONE caseworker has 114 children on her caseload. One human keeping up with the paperwork and visiting that many children is a physical impossibility.
Which leads to…
Huge caseworker turnover.
I was told it takes nine months from hired to working-a-caseload. So, one caseworker quits. Then the already-trained (and already overburdened) caseworkers take over his/her cases for nine months. And that is the best case scenario. It would only be nine months if they hired a new caseworker on the same day that the first caseworker quit.
When you give caseworkers double, triple (or more) what their caseload is supposed to be and pay them less-than-half of what their private-sector comrades are making, of course they quit.
Which leads to….
Which leads to…
Inadequate supervision by caseworkers.
They are in a high-stress job. With traumatized children. With angry parents. With little support and very little compensation. So children can fall through the cracks and go unnoticed. Or worse.
Which leads us back to cranky legislators complaining once again that nothing has changed,
yet doing nothing to change it.
A better future for whom? Only the non-foster child?
Or is it possibly, only a better future for the legislators’ political career?
It seems the future for foster children is only fictitiously improved. And the reality of
this “improved future” is just a figment of some legislators’ imagination meant to temporarily soothe the masses long enough to get elected for another term.
Shame on you. Shame on me. For not doing enough to change what we know needs to be changed.
For not calling to task the decision-makers. For not demanding less political complications and more common sense. For not being the voice that these hidden children so desperately need.
As functional citizens, isn’t it our job is to speak for those who cannot?
And let’s be very clear, the entire foster care populace is legally banned from having a voice.
They cannot speak publicly. They cannot vote for or against the ones making decisions that directly impact them. Their stories cannot be published. They are a population of virtually invisible children.
Foster Children need a voice.
They need less empty politics and more logic in action.
These children need trained, compensated, rested caseworkers.
They need families, compassion, love…
They need you. And they need me.
Why is it so complicated?