Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Slipped through my fingers

"You hear about children falling through the cracks in the system. Let me tell you something, there is no system, there are only people. Children don't fall through cracks, they fall through fingers."

-Marc Parent

How I wish this statement wasn't true. How I wish that I could blame 'the system' for everything. How I wish that those fingers had never been mine.

But they have.

I apologize if I ever allowed you all to think that I was a perfect caseworker. I never meant to mislead or to lie. I certainly didn't mean to put myself up on a high horse - I know how hard that fall can be.

The truth is, the children that fell through my fingers are sometimes unbearable to think about - although that rarely stops them from crossing my mind on a regular basis. I do not exagerate when I say that I cared about every child that has ever been on my caseload. I was very young, very passionate - they were "my" kids. But that doesn't mean that I was perfect. That doesn't mean that I "saved" them all. In fact, there is a reason you all have only heard about a handful of children by name (albeit not their real ones). It is because those stories - Zari, Angel, Rocker and a few others here and there - are some of the few that ever had a truly "happy ending".

Some had "satisfactory" endings - they went home, they acheived permancency in some way, or they moved on to the best case scenario for their situation. Those are still sad sometimes, I still think about them occasionally and wonder how they are doing, say a quick prayer for them - but they don't cause my heart to break like some other children whose stories I have never written. I want you to know them the way you know the "success stories" - because they are no less precious to me.   

But I have been feeling compelled to share some of their stories recently. I am going to work on it - be on the look out for them. If I linger too long, remind me. But be patient too - being reminded of one's own failings is not easy.

They are just as important as talking about the issues with the "system" because they are the reason I know the system is broken. They are the reason I want to fight to change the system.

But even though the system is broken...

They slipped through my fingers.


  1. Casework is one of the hardest jobs that there is. I've been there, and it is almost impossible to catch everything thrown your way. Know that you can only do your best, and if you have fully loved the kids on your caseload at the end of the day, you have done your job.
    It's so hard. You're doing a hard job, and I can tell by your posts that you put your heart into it.

  2. The system is so very broken. And sometimes kids do fall through cracks in the system. That is a reality. There is a part of me that loves you for taking responsibility for those kids. Because, Heaven knows there are too many people in your position who take no responsibility at all. But, you are being pretty hard on yourself, Friend.

    You do the best you can. You do good work. Some days, your best is not going to be enough. That is a reality we all have to face.

    A hug for you, SW. You certainly sound like you could use one.

  3. Because we deal with kids, our mistakes tend to haunt us. Sending you hugs,prayers,and hope for peace.

  4. {{{HUGS}}} I admire your courage to share these very difficult things with us!

  5. I'll never ever forget the first removal I worked- I agree, those memories haunt us.

    One of the most important things I learned in grad school is: everyone is always doing the best they can. That goes for our clients. And for us.

  6. I read the available pages of this book from the link. I'm gonna have to order it now. Lord. Did you read that. Good grief. I HAVE to see if they saved that baby!

  7. Hopefully at the end of the day, you remember what an amazing social worker you are and that you DO make a difference in each child's life, in different ways. We can't save the world (trust me, I have that mentality big time) but you can put your energy into being the best social worker you can be, and realize that the world doesn't lay on your shoulders. As gobbelcounseling said above: everyone is always doing the best they can. That goes for our clients. And for us.

  8. Don't be hard on yourself. The point is that you get up and try everyday to make a difference. You do your very best and your heart is still in your job. I love you for that. ♥

  9. Though perhaps it is not the same thing....as a teacher, and as a religious educator, I have the same thoughts. Those situations, families, children that, when I think of them, make me flinch or draw back in shame. Big mistakes. Usually just ignorance.... Maybe a bit of selfishness on my part on occasion... All I can do is tell myself that I did my best, and really it is up to God, who can transform all situations, to transform and save the things I screw up.

  10. I for one would like to hear more "success stories" Having had 20 some kids come through our home and only knowing the whereabouts of 7 of them I want to know success.

    I get tired of not hearing any success. Only the fails. Yes, I know that the big picture is both success and failure, but there seems to be less success spoken of.

    Anyway, much love. Even some of the failures we've had have turned out for the better, if you gauge failure as not being able to do it yourself.


Join in the conversation! Please leave a comment!