I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while. What did I learn after almost a decade working for a Children’s Aid Society in Ontario, Canada? (These are my views and don’t necessarily reflect the views of the agency I worked for), still I think it’s important to share my takeaways as part of my own journey. I speak for no one in this post but myself.
What did I learn? Where do I start?
The people that work for child welfare are people that care, and they care a lot, however it is the constraints of the system that prevent them from going the extra mile much of the time. The paper work and policies dictated much of what I did, especially when working in the protection department.
Sometimes, because of the excessive demands, workers get burnt out. I didn’t want this myself but after extended periods of non-stop giving, it happened.
This leads me to my next point, I had to find a way to give back to myself. That also meant saying “no” a lot. It may have meant less for the people I worked with and not having the “best worker” status but my personal sanity was more important.
Families are complicated. So very complicated.
I honestly believe that parents want what is best for their children, it just get lost in the translation of their own pain and struggles.
People have the ability to change.
People in our communities don’t understand the cycle of poverty, addiction and abuse. No one wakes up in the morning and decides they want this for themselves or their children. It happens because they are in pain and they don’t know another way. (I had never witnessed poverty to the extent that it was when I was exposed to a First Nation.)
Families can come in all different shapes and forms. It’s not who you are related to, but who is there for you when you need it. Love knows no bounds.
I witnessed people living in modest houses and apartments with modest means but their lives were so rich and full. There are so many wonderful people out there.
I have seen communities. extended families, foster parents rally together for the love of a child. They don’t always agree and are stubborn but the best interest of a child is at the heart of many, many people.
I have also seen people destroy a child’s inner flame because of their own fighting and foolishness; their inability to empathize with another’s struggles and the need to be “right”.
I have also reflected on how many of my own triggers impacted my work. My own ability to dismiss and write people off based on my own experiences. I got a taste of what it was like to abuse power. The system is set up for this.
Babies and children and teens are precious. They are the future and the next generation.
To anyone that has made it out of the “system”. I admire you.