Brought forward from a comment:
"I've been a social worker for DCFS for over 20 years and worked in different regions. Reading the blogs and comments on here make me very sad but the problems with the department begin with line supervisors and go up the "chain of command". There are many good social workers who are often targeted by supervisors due to their own inadequacies and lack of knowledge and experience. Often supervisors are not hired for their expertise and knowledge; they are hired for who they know regardless of the outcome on staff morale and departmental policies. I have always looked at relative placements first, many times to be told by a supervisor without any placement experience to "find a foster home". I have been told to place children in newly licensed foster homes because " they haven't had any placements yet" although there is a relative willing and able to be a placement. Sometimes it's not possible to place with relatives; when that's the case we should keep looking.
My experience with management is that workplace bullying is accepted in every region. Social workers are targeted if they have more experience and knowledge than their supervisors. In my current region, workers and good supervisors have left in droves during the past two years only to be replaced by the RA's pick of the week. Supervisors are encouraged to target employees if they disagree with the RA and AAs. Until this culture in DCFS is no longer tolerated, we will continue to read about cases such as Madison's. Financial circumstances should not have any effect on whether a family member can be a good placement. We are not supposed to remove children due to poverty; why would we not place a child with "poor" relatives when there is help available for that relative? A relative's medical problems may preclude them from taking placement if they are unable to care for themselves or have severe mental health issues.
I hold little hope in that the new leaders of DCFS will address any of these problems. A targeted employee frequently has little credibility with the leaders. I've seen it happen over and over again with good social workers finally having enough and leaving the agency only to be replaced with employees with little or no experience with children. Many of the young social workers have no children of their own; no exposure to children; and only what they are taught in school and by the department. You can't replace 5, 10, or 15 years of experience working with families yet that is what has happened over the years. Until DCFS gets rid of the "good old boy" mindset and hires competent, fair and unbiased line supervisors, AAs, and region administrators, nothing will change. My hope continues to be that DCFS and their treatment of their employees will actually be fully investigated. Social workers and other employees will only speak out with the strict assurance they will not be further targeted by management.
Pam, if only you could help us."
THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR THOUGHTS ...PR