Monday, May 5, 2014

The DCF Target: It Is Not Over

So much is being written about what is going on at the Department of Children and Families and there is so much finger pointing that the Daily News should really take on a new name - How about the Daily Target?  It is doubtless that a series of tragic events has occurred over the past months:
·         Three children died;
·         The agency charged with protecting these children and strengthening their families did not prevent the deaths;
·         The workers assigned the job of protecting and strengthening failed…the agency failed.

All this was reported from various sources and we all feel so helpless – we being the workers assigned to the cases, the managers assigned to support the workers, the professionals associated with  the child welfare agency (i.e. the police, school systems, community agencies contracted with DCF to provide services).  The list goes on.  And the NASW, the association representing the social work profession is also in the mix, for  the term ‘social worker’ applies to us.

Beyond all the ‘knee jerk’ responses about which I have previously written, I have offered the following to the press:

1.       That the media catch the child welfare community doing something right, rather than looking for what is wrong.  What is right is…
a.       The thousands of children and families that have benefitted from short and long-term supports offered by DCF and its contracted agencies;
b.      The thousands of kids that say that DCF saved them; AND
c.       The thousands of foster families who not only provided valuable assistance to the biological families in need of the positive modeling foster parents supply and the thousands of social workers, including myself as a former DCG worker, who believed in parents intentions to do the right thing, but who just did not know how to do it.
2.       That the DCF training unit be adequately funded to provide the essential professional training needed for individuals going into the field.  It is short-sighted and irresponsible to hire 200 new workers without giving them the tools, the knowledge and the supervised training required to understand and intervene appropriately in the complicated situations into which they thrust.

3.       That the law, regulations and practice require that only individuals with social work degrees from accredited BSW and MSW Schools of Social Work be hired to work with some of the most complex and compromised family and individual cases to which DCF is charged.  There is a place for other professionals to do important case management, coordination and related work but the demanding role of a social worker in DCF requires people who have had several years of supervised experience and course work before they take on the serious work within the child welfare field.

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