Friday, February 19, 2010

fostering update

a few weeks back i gave a vague update on the fostering situation and our progress with dss. for documentation sake (a NECESSITY when dealing with this preposterously bureaucratic agency), here's what's been happenning.

in early january i started making phone calls to dss. i left a message on the number i found online and didn't receive a phone call for a day or two. so i called back, got a human being who stressed how much dss needed foster homes. she asked me which county i was from and gave me another number to call. i called that number, left a message and a few days later i got a phone call back. naive me didn't document the dates of these first phone calls, but i'm fairly certain that at this point it was either the week before or the week of MLK day. the man i spoke with during this hone call was an intake worker who took my general information (name, address, etc) and then said that they would mail me a packet of information and a case worker would be in touch with me shortly to schedule a visit to come to our house and speak with us about the process. at the time when i talked with him i though he said that all of this would happen within 3 days. but 3 days came and went and we didn't hear anything. so then i thought maybe i misheard him and it was really 3 weeks. so i waited 3 weeks.

3 weeks to the dot a package arrived in the mail. it had pages upon pages of applications but no information about the fostering process that would answer any of our questions. so i waited a few more days for a phone call. nothing. so on friday, february 5 i called back and left another message. that monday i got a call back from a supervisor who apologized and said that it was possible that they may have assigned me a case worker who was on maternity leave. she said if that was the case, they would give us another case worker. but her intake coordinator was not in the office that day so she said she would have him call me.

tuesday, february 9 i received a call from the same intake coordinate who i had spoken with previously. he remembered doing the intake with me but he said they could not find it so he had to do it again. i asked how that was so if i received a packet in the mail and he thought that was odd. so we redid the intake. i asked when i could expect a call back and he said he was going to give it to the case worker that day and he said he wouldn't be surprised if i got a call back that afternoon. he said "definitely by the end of the week."

two days later, no phone call from the case worker. we did, however, receive another of the same application packets in the mail. thanks for the expedience on that one, dss. by the end of the week i had not received a call back.

on wednesday, february 17 i called the county dss number again to find out why i'd STILL not yet gotten a call for a home visit. i actually got a human being instead of an answering machine and she gave me our case worker's name and number. she said the case worker was not in the office that day but indicated that i could leave a message and she would call me back. so i left a message with the CW telling her about how long this process had taken and that we wanted to get the ball rolling by having her come out to our house.

no call back.

this morning (friday, february 19) i was at a work event- an internship fair for social work students at usc- and i just so happened to see that there was an adoptions supervisor from dss there. so i went up to him and explained my situation. he was very upset that we've not been helped and have gotten the run-around. so he gave me his card as well as the name of our CW's supervisor. he said call the supervisor and tell him our predicament. he said the supervisor was very good but he said if for some reason we didn't hear back from the supervisor, call him directly and he would help.

so this afternoon i called the supervisor. he wasn't in the office and did not have voice mail so i had to leave a message with the woman who answered the phone. when i told her what was happening she said that she would give him our message and that our case worker was in the office today and i could call her now if i wanted (she couldn't transfer me). i told her i would call her, but i didn't get a chance to because the case worker pretty much called me immediately back. i guess if you involve a supervisor you get results!

she said she didn't get my message from the other day because she "was not in the office on wednesday and was not able to retrieve her messages." (whatever that means?) so we proceeded to talk about scheduling for her to come and visit with us at our home. she said, "when is good for you?" and i said that my husband and i would be available next week during any evening except tuesday. and she said "evening!?" i said, yes, we both work during the daytime. she responded "well, that's not going to work for me because i work 9-5." i was stunned. surely we're not the first working people in the world to want to foster a child through our dss system!

"when is your lunch break?" she asked. i laughed. "my husband and i are both social workers. we don't really get a lunch break," i responded. she was being very unhelpful so i said to her that i was shocked (yes, i used that word) that this wasn't an issue for most people. i said, "aren't there other foster parents who work and can't meet during the day?" she replied that most people will meet first thing in the morning or meet at the end of the day at like 4:30 and "if it runs over to 5:15 or something that's okay with me." well, ms. case worker, i'm so glad that you will inconvenience yourself 15 minutes for me considering the fact that we will take off work to come home and meet you for what is YOUR JOB!

so basically we left it that i have to talk with the hubby to find out when we both are able to take off work so that we can come home and meet her during her working hours. every supervisor that i've spoken with so far from dss has stressed to me how badly they need homes for foster kids. if they want to know how to get more homes, perhaps they could talk to their case workers about flexibility and working evening hours if it's necessary. oh yeah, and about returning phone calls.


Ben Waldie said...

You expected organization and efficiency from a government agency???

Sorry the process is a pain in the butt. It sounds ridiculous. Hope it works out soon for you guys.

Waldie said...

that's actually what the hubby said. but my take is that i DO expect organization and efficiency from government agencies. i think most people's reaction would be, "well, what do you expect from dss?" and i think that's not an excuse for them to be so disorganized. just because they perform poorly doesn't mean i should be lowering my expectations. and thanks for the well-wishes. we'll keep you posted.

Anonymous said...

that's so frustrating!!!! and we wonder why dss gets a bad name? i cannot believe they don't have some way to work after 5. i don't think i have ever had a job where i did not have some evening or weekend work!!!! ugh. sorry guys....what a process! maybe there is a reason that kids are getting fostered....the frustrations with the agency may have something to do with it.

thoughts and prayers with you,

Dogwood Dell said...

You should have folks bending over backwards to place kids in homes. I get the impression that the folks at DSS rather work 9-5 and get a paycheck.

If this was conducted in state agencies personally know, the staff would be practically beaten for not fulfilling the mission - regardless of the appointment time proposed.

I'm sorry you're going through this mess. My prayers are with you both.

sean said...

Just wow. That's infuriating.

You guys are in our prayers.