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Work is driving me crazy. I think a lot of it has to do with me not taking much time off over the summer, and it's starting to catch up to me. I'm noticing more and more that I'm in the phase of "I really don't see what the hell I'm even doing anymore".

Don't get me wrong though, it's not like I don't do my job. I go everyday, I do all my visits, I follow up with everyone, yadda yadda. But there are some aspects that are so damn frustrating, I've just hit the place where I'm doing what I need to, and that's it. I could work more overtime and get more done.. or I could go home and eat dinner at a normal hour, and try to give myself some downtime. Going home and trying to rest my brain is winning out these days.

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The other day, the Director of my agency mentioned that there are more advocacy groups that are coming up with campaigns to target child welfare. I'm pretty sure this is common in other parts of the world (which have child welfare agencies, and the democracy to question said agencies), but the latest tidbit in Ontario can be found here. (I set an anonymous forwarding address because I'd rather not be noticed)

While I completely agree that there are parts about child welfare that should be improved, I sometimes question just what perspective is being presented via these documentaries. (Though, I guess I shouldn't judge until I've watched the complete documentary, which doesn't come out for several days)

I would argue that most parents don't believe they have problems - this might be due to a bunch of factors, but ideas that pop into mind at this time are:
- they were brought up in that particular parenting style as well, clearly they (in their opinion) turned out to be normal adults, so why would it be a problem now?
- they were brought up in a parenting style that was "worse", and they're trying to be better by doing the opposite - how could they be worse than their parents?
- they love their kids, and there is no problem; people are judging them for the wrong reasons, they are being unrealistic and unfair

I understand the perspective that parenting can't just be looked at through one lens, it's not one size fit all. I'm not quite sure which child welfare agency really applies that logic anymore, since the government quashed that thought process in the 90s. However, if you just ask any parent with more than one child, they will likely tell you that what works for child A, does not necessarily work for child B. So no, I would not expect parents of child A and B to have one set distinct style that works. However. There are some things that parenting should cover, regardless of culture, socioeconomic class, yadda yadda. ie: making sure your kids are eating, sleeping, cleaning on a somewhat regular basis, and going to school.

The reason why I said that I question which perspective is being presented is that based on my own personal experience, the families who really struggle with having child welfare involved in their lives are ones that don't see that there is a problem to begin with. While I'm sure no one relishes the idea of having child welfare around, some just get what needs to be done, done (ie: going to counseling, watching their alcohol consumption) then ask when you'll go away. Others will fight you to the grave that they are not in the wrong, that the system failed them, and why, why, why are they being martyred.

I'm sure it's shocking, but I don't wake up in the morning and think - gee, which kid should I take today? which family needs to be demolished?

We (or at least I) try very hard to work with families, and address issues before they get out of hand. Removing a child is not the first step because it's not something you can undo and erase from their memory. You can't do the whole process, then say - oh hey, I made a mistake, oops! - and everything reverts to how it was. But if you've exhausted every other option, and the parent is still refusing to parent, what are you left with? Are you supposed to keep following their perspective that nothing is wrong? Or should someone be stepping to the plate and doing something about the very permanant damage that is already ongoing with the family?

I can't change a parent's perspective on things, I'm not "god", as much as people like to claim I am. (as amusing as the notion is, I'm simply not interested) But I guess that's the fine line. At what point is an agency over-stepping it's bounds and doing more harm?

Personally, I can go to bed at night knowing I've done what I could. I've seen how children can improve when taken away from a neglectful parent, despite the parent repetaedly calling me and screaming that they've been wronged, and they are a good parent. You know what? I do believe that. I don't think most parents set out to be awful or want to purposely ruin their kids lives. However, just because you're starting from a good perspective, it doesn't mean that what you're doing is good. You may think that you're encouraging your child to have freedom and independence, but if they haven't been to school in a couple years and they're only 10, there's something wrong with this picture. And even if I tell you there's something wrong, and the school board tells you there's something wrong, and you still insist that there isn't.. what am I supposed to do then? I can't change your perspective - but clearly there's an issue here.

Most documentaries/advocacy I've seen fails to present all perspectives of the story. It's usually the perspective of the parent, what they view as having happened, and that's that. However, there's usually more than one side to every picture, and if all sides are not being presented, how can people come to a conclusion as to what needs to be changed, and how it needs to happen? Why did the family get to the stage that it did? Was there anything preventive that could have been done? Clearly we all agree that parenting is not one sided - neither are the situations that require parenting in the first place.

One question I have is why there is such a long waiting list for services that would be able to address problems before they reach crisis mode. Why is it so difficult for parents to access supports for themselves or for their children, and why is there often at least a 6 mth - 1 year waiting list? Like really? If these parents are struggling enough as it is, you think waiting 6 months-1 year will help?

That is the nature of my job that I struggle with the most. I'm often just working in crisis mode, addressing things as they come up but effectively solving nothing. Most parents need some sort of counselor/therapist to talk to, or their child needs to see a psychiatrist. I'm none of those things. I'm just the stand-in, the in-between, until they can link up with the appropriate person. Until that time, it's just trying not to drown.

I'm actually kind of interested in this documentary, and what it will come up with. But mostly, I'm very curious how the 53 different child welfare agencies will be shown - yes, 53. In all of Ontario. Can you imagine the policy differences and so forth?

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