Conflict, but not at court

So apparently sometimes I worry too much about things. Or, just about the wrong things. I went to court today and it was no big deal. Actually it was kind of boring, except for maybe the attorneys, who at times seem to start stuff to just start stuff, like middle schoolers do. The Mom was actually excited to see me. We chatted a bit and then it was back to the office.

One of my big tasks recently has been organizing visits for a new case to our unit. Three kids in three different placements with a mother that has almost 2 dozen aliases, numerous cons (for thousands and thousands of dollars), and severely medically (and educational and ‘regular’) neglect. This Mom (I need aliases for these parents don’t I? So we’ll call her Blue) is quite a charmer and we already know that this is going to be very contentious in court. So I have been trying to juggle the schedules of the kids, the foster parents, Blue, and our contracted supervisors. And then once I get those down, then it is trying to find a place for the visit to happen. This has not been an easy task and I know people are frustrated. Unfortunately they are directing it at me, but I feel like I am doing the best that I can and trying to make it as simple as possible. Of course, that is not so easy.

So yesterday I had called Blue in the early afternoon offering her a makeup visit for today (10-12) because I thought I had figured out a schedule for the one of her kids that lives far from the others (today I found out that it won’t work out at all because of vacations. Grrr). I asked her to call me back either way to let me know so we could organize it. She didn’t call me yesterday – I checked my messages at 8 pm. She didn’t call me this morning – I checked my messages at 9:15 while at court and therefore canceled with my scheduled supervisor. I do get a message at 1:45 saying that she had called me the day before (she had not) and was confused about the times and requested that I call her back. So I do and offer to have a visit tomorrow (we need to make up lots of visits because of schedules) which she agrees to.

But then it is this big thing about she is not happy with the current location of the visit. Previously the visits were at a large mall. First, I don’t think that a mall is the site where a quality visit can occur. There are many distractions when the focus should be on the kids and interacting with their parent. Plus, she has three kids (1, 4, and 9) so it is hard to keep track of them in a loud, crowded mall. Finally, there is the issue of supervision. There have been previous reports of Blue saying inappropriate things to her kids, especially the 9 year old. A mall is just too difficult for a supervisor to monitor everything. Well, Blue wants the visits to go back to the mall – does she not like the intense supervision she gets at the new contained location? I tell her that while I hear her concerns – there are many that she tells me repeatedly – I am not going to change the location of the visits at this time. I do tell her that I will look into alternative locations. Blue again tells me how great the mall is – even though she agreed to change the location when we did it in the first place – but cannot take no for an answer. She really goes on about this for about 20 minutes. She talks about how bad the department is and how slow we are to getting her answers and how we don’t put her kids first and how we ignore her and on and on. I repeatedly tell her that I am hearing her concerns, that I will look into and consider a different location, but at this time I am not going to make that decision. Finally, I say that I am not going to argue with her over this. Well, she backs down about this and reassures me that she is not going after me (right) and that she is not trying to argue with me (sure). And after another 5 minutes are finally able to wrap up the conversation. 35 minutes to confirm a time and location for a visit. Whew.

Afterwards, some of my colleagues (who heard the conversation and knew immediately who I was talking to) congratulated me for surviving my first argument with a client. It was really different from anything that I had done before. I really had to stand my ground and be firm with her. I really felt like she was trying to push me around so that she could get what she wanted. And I think that I did ok, but this is something that I am going to have to get a lot better at. People are going to try to push me around and I have to be firm and make sure that I am doing what is best for the kids and not just what the parents want me to do.

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2 Responses to Conflict, but not at court

  1. fostermom00 says:

    It gets easier. The first time I had to stand my ground with a birth parent was nervewracking. I got better at it the more I dealt with the parents….or I just got more cynical and jaded which made it easier to stand my ground.

  2. […] about it. I have started to hear some barbs as a result of it. So on Thursday, she asked me to move the location of her visits. On Friday, after speaking to all of the parties, I agreed to move it to a library that has a park […]

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