When I graduated last summer (on the 20-year plan), I was sick to death of school and sick to death of being a secretary. Since I had been working for several years working with a bunch of social workers and former Child Protective Service workers, it seemed natural to go work for CPS.
The original plan was to change jobs and take a semester off before starting teacher certification classes. I quickly realized that there was no way I’d have the time to do teacher certification. I also went through a period where I loved, loved, loved my job.
Oy, is the honeymoon ever over!
I’ve been there for 7-1/2 months now. I have enough overtime leave banked that I could take more than 3 weeks off without having to touch my vacation leave.
I can’t take a day off unless I’m current (fewer than 5 delinquent cases). That is more difficult than you may think. I could be about ready to get a case closed out when the parent(s) go psycho and it ends up requiring more time. Or the families who move from place to place to place each time I find them, so that months could go by without my managing to see the kids. Or I just need one more bit of information, but getting it is like pulling teeth.
And if I do get current and take a day off, I will have to go in over the weekend anyway, so what good does it do to take a day off? I know this, because I took off last Friday in honor of Harry Potter, and had to go in on Sunday. Also, when I take time off, I feel guilty because of the work I know isn’t getting done, and the families on my caseload. Which means my vacation in August is going to be really fun. Not.
I haven’t gotten a full night’s sleep in quite some time, but this week’s been really bad. I wake up at 1:30 and can’t get back to sleep until 3:30 or later. I forestalled it last night by watching “Hair” until 1:30. I did sleep the rest of the night, but it was not a restful sleep.
This week has just seemed to emphasize the things I hate about this job. After getting current last Monday, only to fall delinquent again on Friday, and then getting current again on Sunday, only to fall delinquent again yesterday, I’m delinquent again. Yay. And I’ve been trying for days or weeks even to catch someone at home, unsuccessfully of course. And I’ve been trying for a month to meet with one family, who is conveniently never home when I go to their apartment. It’s not an issue anymore, because they got evicted. Now I have to try to figure out where they went. And I went to interview a man in an adjacent county, and when I walked into his home he started crying, and wept throughout the whole interview. I can’t write in my assessment that his ex is a nasty bitch who’s trying to ruin his life, but she is. I had one case completely blow up, and I have no idea what to do with it. On another case, that went to removal, I have a psycho druggie mom who came to court high and lied to the judge while I was standing there. No surprise there, of course.
Oh, and speaking of delinquencies, I got an official warning and am back on probation. I almost–but didn’t–cried when I got the warning, not because I did not recognize the validity of the concerns expressed, but because I have been working my butt off since I got out of training towards the end of January. I think there have been a maximum of 3 weeks in that entire time that I’ve worked only 40 hours. I’ve had at least 4 60+ hour weeks, and many weeks between 45-55.
We also get e-mails every day or two where we’re told that everyone knows how overloaded the investigators are, but we must make sure to do this thing, or we must make sure to do that thing. For example, the legislature approved a pay differential for investigators that is due to start on September 1st. I got an e-mail last week saying that since investigators and investigative supervisors are getting the pay differential, now we’re the ones who will be doing the on-call work. Thanks–let’s see if I understand this: We’re overworked and underpaid, so you give us a little more money and more work. WTF??
And while we’re talking about money, let me just say that no one does this job for the money. Trust me. I made more as a secretary without a degree. Oh, and get this–we get paid once a month. How much fun is that? So we make peanuts, and we only get it once a month, so that by the time we pay our bills and realize how little money we have left to live on for the next 27 days, we’re ready to scream.
Another thing that makes me scream is the clients who just sit on their butts and wait for the state to do everything for them. I can give them referrals for services up the ying-yang, and it’ll be a miracle if they follow through with any of them. And then there are the ones who are working hard, but due to their educational level or abilities, they’re working for minimum wage. Finding referrals for them is impossible, because they make just too much to qualify. I talk to a family that says they applied for food stamps, but only got approved for $11 a month because of their income. I swear, if I ever get rich, I’m going to fund some scholarships and charitable funds for people who fall in that middle space. I’d rather help people who are trying to help themselves, than those who sit on their brains all the time.
Anyway, I decided that enough is enough. I posted my resume at monster.com and careerbuilder.com, and am actively looking for a job. And yes, if I have to go back to being a secretary, even though I hate the job, I’ll do it, if for no other reason than to regain my life.
Heck, if I’m not working this schedule and don’t have a heavy caseload of kids to be worried about all the time, maybe I’ll finish the new book I started writing this week!!
I didn’t realize this was going to turn into such a lengthy rant. If you made it this far, thanks.