My job has gotten a bit harder lately as I have had to have some tough conversations with caregivers. I made a Mom cry the other day having one of these conversations. Her case has recently been transfered to me and her 11 month old daughter is in foster care because she was shaken causing her to have seizures, brain hemorrhages, and hospitalized for days. Neither parents could explain the injuries and mom admitted that dad was alone with her right before she began seizing. Both parents have been inconsistent with services and mother is still living with dad, despite the Dept.’s concerns. And mom is pregnant again. So I got to have the conversation with her telling her that if she is still living with him, the Dept. has strong concerns for the safety of the new baby. She cried. But I had to let her know what the reality was.
So same case, I then had to speak with mom’s doctor (she signed a release of information). I first asked the doctor lots of questions about mom – any concerns, if she has been compliant with prenatal care, etc. Everything seemed fine from the doctor’s end. Then I got to have a similar conversation with the doctor. Turns out the doctor is a resident and has never dealt with anything like this. She sounded kinda freaked out so I was explaining the process to her. Then she asked me for advice for what to do (what a nice switch of power for once). I think she understood it all by the end of the talk, but she was still pretty freaked out.
And then I had to have a tough conversation with a relative caregiver. She is a grandmother of a two year old who was removed from his mother first for medical neglect and then overall neglect. Grandmother has consistently minimized the issues of mom and the little guy and is pretty pissed that we are involved in the first place. So I get to have the conversation with her that she essentially needs to cooperate with the Dept. and be honest with me or we will have to look for another placement for him. She can definitely be pushy and I have probably been a bit intimidated by her. But today I had to be very clear with her that she needed to be open and honest with me if she wanted to remain a placement. Not sure if she will change her ways.
So I was definitely nervous before all of these conversations. Being confrontational is not really a key tenant taught in social work school. But being honest and direct is so I just need to get more used to being the bad guy and bearing some tough news to clients. And hopefully it will get a little easier and less anxiety provoking.