This brief post is about what it's like to be a case manager. It is a pastiche of actual comments from some of the truly wonderful case managers I've known. And I've known more good ones than bad ones.
"I feel horrible. I'm taking care of everybody else's neglected children and feel like I'm neglecting my own children."
"One day I came home from work, like usual, after 8 pm, and my daughter asked me why she never saw me anymore, why I never went to any of her extracurriculars. I had to quit doing case management. I couldn't bear it."
"So I do all this work, get a master's degree, hardly sleep, really care about each and every child in my case load, spend my own money buying them things my agency won't, and then this judge, who thinks that parents can do no wrong and practically own those kids, sends them home to get beaten with a belt? I have to get out of here. Maybe I can go into medical social work or something. I just can't stand this anymore."
"I missed his first words, his first steps, his first morning at pre-K. I can't miss any more."
"You're on your own out there. Your supervisor won't raise a finger to help and will only tell you what you did wrong. Your administrator's door is always closed. I'm up there facing a judge and there's nobody that has my back."
"At my agency they have all these layers. I'm supposed to have someone else do all the referrals for me. But if they don't get made or services don't get started, it's my fault, and you can bet I'm going to get blamed for it. But, if I do them myself, then I'm accused of not following their structure, and of being inefficient with my time. I just can't win."
"Overwhelmed? I was overwhelmed last year. This year, I'm almost drowned. I don't know where I can go. This is the third agency I tried. This system is broken, and while I want to try to keep these kids safe, no one's really helping me do it. Some judges give them right back and others don't want to even give their parents a chance. Staffing after staffing of what I'm supposed to be doing that I haven't done yet for this case or that. No money to do it with, all these insurance snags or limitations, no way to do anything nice for these kids, foster parents that you don't like, and program managers talking about money, money, money. I don't want to quit caring about these kids, but I have to get out of here, or I will. I am almost too tired to care about myself."
"I feel so terrible about leaving her case, because she has such abandonment issues. But my whole unit was reassigned. I just don't know why they do this. I'm so sorry. If I give you my personal cell number, you could call me with her, when you visit. I don't want her to feel like I just disappeared and forgot about her, like her family did."