Sunday, March 15, 2009


Sorry to anybody actually reading this blog. Its not very uplifting, and not very well written either. Its also become a bit of a "what I did today" blog which is going to get boring fast. I do have deep thoughts occasionally, but I tend to forget about them as soon as the next crisis appears. I know, excuses, excuses (as if I don't get enough of them at work).

Tired. Tired of people who should be helping, setting up other caseworkers for failure (this comes from another caseworker getting stuck with a really bad foster placement. They even pulled the license on this family, but then placed a difficult case with them- way to look out for each other and all that other stuff they talk about in training. The father couldn’t get over the fact that the 12 year old lied to him. Ummm even “normal” 12 year old girls lie... did he forget why this child is in foster care, cause I'm sure she hasn't.)

Tired of explaining to families what is expected, and then having them blame everybody for their short comings. Tired of kids making poor choice after poor choice. Tired of having no good answers. Tired of people ignoring suggestions that could work. Tired of the system that uses increasingly limited funds on families that aren’t willing to put forth any effort, while turning away families that are on the edge. Tired of the generational abuse that seems to say what I do doesn’t make much of a difference.

I've read on a couple of people's blogs about how the suggestion they get from their caseworker, is "have you tried a sticker chart?" I know with seriously mentally ill kids a sticker chart isn’t going to do anything, and chances are the worker knows that as well. I get how frustrating that must be for parents. The caseworker is frustrated too, and there are no easy answers. But the fact of the matter is that, token economies do tend to work for most kids. Even my kids in residential treatments respond to token economies or “sticker charts” (for the seriously mentally ill ones they have to first get stabilized, usually on meds). So with the caveat of not dealing with a serious mental illness read the following, if you still want to.

I'm tired of people saying, "I tried that, it didn't work." I strongly feel that it doesn't matter what you try, as long as you stick to whatever program it is (just ask Super Nanny :)). Charting or whatever you want to call it is important. It lets the professionals understand where we are with this kid. Sticker charts in and of themselves don't work, but giving a kid specific goals with specific outcomes does. Often the idea behind a token economy is breaking the day into minutes, sections, manageable pieces. Finding a childs’ triggers, motivation, etc is helpful. Finding places where kids can excel, and figuring out the kids' cycles is really important. Charting can help do all of this, just please don’t get stuck on the idea of a “sticker chart”. Not sure where all this came from. I just have an overwhelming feeling of Frustration right now.

Have you read "The Boy Who was Raised as a Dog" by Bruce Perry? I thought it was an interesting book. He did a presentation last year (or maybe the year before?) in our state and it was great to hear about the research they are doing, and the success they've had using his methods. He showed us that they've got a way to clearly map the missing pieces in a child's brain due to early neglect/trauma and how thier program helps fill in these gaps. But unfortunately his methods aren't available outside of their facility yet, that I've heard. This is frustrating to me.

This is one of the reasons I went into social work. I was actually drawn more to the scientific research and results in something like sociology, but came to understand that for me it isn’t enough to understand how or even why things happen, I need to do something.

Actually, I just looked up his site again, and they are offering some free courses to help people understand working with maltreated kids so there goes a useless rant. Nonetheless the feeling behind the rant still works. I’m fine with people making a buck, but if there is something that will help any of my kids, there better be a darn good reason for not making it available! (

I've had good things happen this past week, so not sure why its all negative. Guess I feel that way often on Sunday nights anticipating another fun filled Monday adventure.


Brenda said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. It is no wonder there is such burn out for social workers. I'm glad your state has you. I will be writing more about Bruce Perry through out the week. I think next I will write about the brain map.

Torina said...

It is really hard to know what works when you get a new kid. Even though we only parent kids with either majro emotional disturbances or mental illness, "sticker charts" can still work to an extent...but they may not be a motivator for the kids. More for the parents and sometimes parents need their own motivators so they can see that kids are doing some things right...also, I do wonder if less experienced foster or adoptive parents don't always realize that kids don't learn the very basics that we take for granted: bathing, eating, dressing, privacy, manners, etc. Anyway, I am not lecturing and now it is starting to sound like that. Just thinking while I type. I really enjoy your blog and I love hearing the day to day details of your job. I can't even imagine how hard it must be.

Lisa said...

It's been a long time. Are you ok?????