Yesterday I was at court all morning where it was very busy. I personally had three hearings for my cases. They were more “check-in” hearings where nothing big happened, we just touched base with all of the players.
A coworker also had to go in for an emergency hearing after she had to pull kids from their mother’s home after she was being pretty neglectful. So they had to have a hearing to get permission to place the kids somewhere. On Thursday night, they had a 3 hour meeting about it (which I sat in) and then they were at court until mid-afternoon. So it was stressful and contentious and not very fun for anyone. Well, the end result was the judge gave the social worker the authority to place the kids in foster care, with suitable adults (family friends), and to return home to the mother when it is appropriate. After the hearing, apparently the mother’s attorney accosted the social worker saying that she should just return the kids to the mom and not go through trying to figure out another place for the kids to go. Apparently they were pretty aggressive and the social worker got a bit overwhelmed and began crying.
So I was thinking to myself, how would I react and what would I say. This is hard. I am not someone who is very good or experienced with confrontation. Especially when compared to lawyers who are trained and seem to thrive on it. While supervising these kids in the office until 8 pm on Friday I was thinking about this and finally came to an answer as I was driving home late for the second night in a row, exhausted.
The reason that my colleague wouldn’t do it and why I wouldn’t is because is it my ass on the line. If something happens, the blame sits on the social worker’s shoulders. The attorney doesn’t bare responsibility – and would probably shirk it as soon as possible. We have to make harsh decisions sometimes and trust our guts because it is our responsibility to make those determinations. Is this safe or not for kids? Unfortunately, this puts us in situations where we are bullied, disliked, and even threatened.
So I need to embrace and cement this mentality more and more. Which is tough. I feel like in social work school we are taught to trust clients and take their word as true. And while there is an element of that in child welfare, we are also analyzing situations. And this pisses people off. I am just not looking forward to the time where a lawyer attempts to bully me.