It happened again today. Three young children brought into protective services. Sadly, they may not have been the only ones brought in this week. Honestly, I don’t believe they were. It is far more prevalent than most would think. Abuse, neglect, failure to protect, lack of supervision, unsanitary living conditions….the list goes on….
As I was preparing a room for training, I couldn’t help but notice the sounds coming from the offices near where I was. Case workers were like bees buzzing around the children. “Are you hungry?” “Do you want a toy?” These questions are nearly just about all you can ask three young ones whose lives just got turned upside down.
As I walked around, I heard case workers on the phone with this question, “Hello, I’m ……from…… We just got 3 children into care today and are wondering if you would consider taking them as a placement?” When children come into protective services, case workers start frantically calling the “list”. They move through the list looking for a family who will take kids on a moment’s notice. There is no planning, no pre-placement visits like adoption, and no real way to predict when a home is needed.
The other sights and sounds I heard are ones that are a little harder to swallow, even though I’ve been in this field for a while. The little one was whimpering, crying, and throwing fits. The next little one was playing with the same toy that sang the A, B, C’s over and over again. The older one, well, she did not seem to say much at all. Children are resilient and it is hard to know just what they are thinking, but behind their resiliency must be some wonderment about who we were and how they ended up in an office with strangers asking them questions and offering them snacks.
I could not help but think about the job those of us in child welfare have. I wonder if we would be overwhelmed by it if we just stopped long enough to really think about what our work entails. That same resiliency that is in children is also what gets most case workers through their jobs. Yet, behind that layer of resiliency are people who just want to make differences in the lives of children.
Every time a child is in the office where I work, most everyone stops whatever he or she is working on and offers help. Some “man” the phones looking for a foster home placement, others take turns playing with the children, some dig through the supply closet looking for clothing, diapers, blankets (the children rarely come with anything but the clothes on their backs), others start processing the paperwork, and the nurse checks the kids over with great gentleness and kindness. Not to sound cliché, but it does take a village at work to help when kids into care.
It happened again today. Three young lives wrought up by abuse and neglect. A team of people working together to provide what they could for children in need. A foster home that finally said “yes”. And, my heart and mind wishing that none of this was needed.
Want to help, but don’t know how or have the time? Please consider praying for case workers who are on the front lines of the war against child abuse and neglect. Prayer changes things!