The Child Protection machine
I worked for child protective services for about 26 ½ years. I retired in March of this year. When Facebook came on the scene, employees in my office were warned by the Rule Makers that we were not to post anything that reflected badly on the agency or we would be disciplined “up to and including termination.” The biggest regret I have is that I followed their directive. I understand and support the part of the directive that forbid posts that were unethical, obscene, or illegal (threats, etc.). It is the part about criticizing the agency publicly that I regret following. (I am sure some of the Rule Givers will deny that was ever said just as I am sure some current employees will not Like or comment on this post for fear they will be fired.) Well…
Firstly, I need to tell you about the people. They, i.e. Workers, Supervisors, Regional individuals, and support staff, want more than anything else to help the families and especially the children of Daviess County as much as they possible can. They are hardworking, innovative, proactive, and empathetic. As individuals, they see the world as it could be and work every day, to the best of their ability, to better the social environment of Owensboro and Daviess County.
However, the complex Machine that is Child Protection is broken. The Machine does not know it is broken. The Machine sees individuals as broken. If the individuals would give the Machine what it wants, everything would run smoothly. The Machine wants two things. The Machine wants individuals to serve the Machine. The Machine suppresses individual innovation, which could change the Machine, with ill-conceived and inconsistently administered written and verbal policies. The Machine wants hard Workers to work harder up to the point where all individual energy is exhausted, and proactivity is impossible. As the Machine grinds down the individual, the individual’s abilities are diminished to the point where, in the eyes of the Machine, the individual becomes expendable.
Secondly, the Machine, through lopsided budgets and the ill-conceived policies, wants to determine the Clients’ needs. The Machine uses Legal and Institutional Machines to disciple Clients, “up to and including termination.”
The Machine has taken the Workers’ greatest strenght, Empathy, and turned it into an obstacle. Empathy used to point Workers in the right direction to solve problems. Now, Empathy gnaws at Workers’ souls. Workers feel the fear and helplessness that the Machine has used them to inflict on their Clients. Supervisors feel the fear and helplessness of the Workers. Depression and anxiety are pervasive in the office.
The Machine must be dismantled. The Clients, with guidance, must determine their own needs. Workers, with guidance, must serve the Clients and each other. The Supervisors, with guidance, must serve the Clients, the Workers, and each other. The Regional Staff, with guidance, must serve the Clients, the Workers, the Supervisors, and each other.
Humans must be put back in charge.