Big Decisions

August 21, 2008

Fortunately for me, it is now policy that big decisions (like returning a kid home) are the shared responsibility of many different people.  One person is not supposed to shoulder the burden.  I have been facing a big decision this week.  One of my kids, who is just over a year old, has a court hearing tomorrow morning.  His mother, who is currently in inpatient substance abuse treatment for an addiction to heroin, has been looking to agree to dependency and hoping that she can go to Family Treatment Court, which is a special program exclusively for parents for whom substance abuse is the primary concern where the the atmosphere is more intimate, but there there is more accountability.  It is a great program.  The father, who apparently does not have a substance abuse problem, is not wanting to agree to dependency.  So we had to decide if we wanted to fight for dependency and take it to a trial.

So I did what all good (and new) social workers do – I staffed it with my supervisor.  My supervisor was concerned (as was I) that dad was unaware that his girlfriend had relapsed and was actively using heroin.  She was also concerned about criminal activity that he had been linked to (although not charged).  So we are going forward.  Today, I spent trying to get my attorney all the evidence and information he needed in order to get a strong case built to hopefully show dad’s attorney that we have a decent case and will agree to settling.

Tomorrow, I have been warned, the defense attorneys may try to trick me and get me to say something that they can use against me.  I am not thrilled about this prospect.  Plus, this feels like a very strange way for me to be working as a social worker.  I want to be helpful and work with my clients, yet today I had to spend lots of time attempting to build a case against them.  And I know that my primary client is the kid, but I do feel like the parents are too.  But I do think that there is still risk with this dad in regards to this kid’s safety.  He appears to minimize problems quite a bit and I am concerned that he had no idea that his girlfriend was actively using heroin.

And it was interesting gathering the information.  I learned today that we have U.S. Postal Inspectors that investigate mail fraud, postal burglaries, identity theft, and related things.  I had no idea.  The inspector was very nice and helpful and so interesting to get a totally different perspective on clients.  I do think that I want to do some investigative CPS work in the future.

So I don’t know what will happen tomorrow.  A colleague suggested to do very little talking, let the lawyers hash it all out, and try to just listen to people.  We’ll see how that goes.  I just hope that I can keep my composure and not screw things up.


Tomorrow: Potential Conflict in Court

June 11, 2008

So I am going to court tomorrow for a hearing for a case that I have been supervising the visits for at Mom’s treatment facility. I (and others) have had some concerns about this Mom; mostly that she seems to struggle parenting more than one child at a time (I supervise visits with a 6 year old and 1 year old). Most frequently, she is focusing all of her attention on the 1 year old and does not engage much with the 6 year old (although the last 2 visits have been better). This concern is further exacerbated by the fact that Mom is 8.5 months pregnant. Will she ignore the 1 year old as well once there is a new baby in the picture?

So there is potential for concerns, particularly this one, to come up tomorrow at court, which I am planning on attending. Now, I will not be the one saying any of this in court, but I could see this being brought up, Mom not being pleased at all, and then her confronting me about the concern. Then what? Do I defend my position? This does not seem to be a good idea: I have no desire to argue something that has no potential of resolution. But Mom does have a right to voice her opinion. So I guess I will try to acknowledge her disagreement, but stand firm that it is a concern that I have in some of the behaviors I have seen. And then try to leave it at that. We’ll see how that goes. And my guess is this will also have an effect on future visits, which will also be interesting.

I just don’t like conflict – I am the product of two very skilled conflict avoiders. But I know that I am now smak-dab in the middle of conflict all the time, so I guess this is a good time to get into it. Sigh.