Monday, May 31, 2021

I am Human


The past three weeks were tremendously stressful. I inherited many cases with unresolved issues and needing pressing responses, countless tasks, and meetings required two to three times a day. To get these tasks completed promptly would require the assistance of more than one person. Also, with the amount of attention needed on this one case, it would be impossible to focus on or complete tasks for any other assigned clients.

Without giving any specific information on this case, it involved stabilizing housing, addressing violent behaviors, mental health issues, and countless meetings and paperwork. There are years of history on this case that one person could not review in three weeks. However, I was expected to know the case history in a short amount of time and also resolve the immediate concerns with little to no support.

I felt neglected and that I was being set up for failure. We call it being "Dumped on."   When a worker gets overwhelmed and is victim to the department's demands, it can cause burnout. It is a cycle. As a result, workers either quit or go on leave. In most cases, a social worker leaves for the following reasons: high caseloads, complicated issues with limited resources, lack of support from management, social workers being violently threatened by clients, and extreme demands from leadership, among other reasons.

Over the past three weeks, I could not come up for air, so to speak. I received numerous emails and phone calls regarding this one case. Everyone wanted something from me, including answers that I could not address because I was only recently assigned the case.  

I asked my manager to throw out a lifeline. I explained that there were many immediate needs to be addressed, some beyond my current skill level. For example, I have worked in a specialized unit for almost a decade. However, these newly assigned cases required skills that I am no longer familiar. There has also been a lot of updated procedures for the different task. The response I received was that I basically needed to learn quickly to get the job done.

I became emotionally fatigued, experienced terrible headaches, and felt no sense of accomplishment. They did not consider the fact that I am a single person: a human. I was expected to work non-stop, without error or support. . . like a computer.

Ultimately, this case remains unresolved despite all of my efforts and the stress I endured. 

Sunday, May 30, 2021

7 Spectacular tips for setting goals.

I must admit there was a time in my life when I had no path of my own to follow. I looked at others and thought, “Oh, I will do what they are doing.” I had no real goals of my own to monitor. So, at times I got perplexed and discontented. I would just go with the flow, wherever the wind took me, so to speak. I never focused on following through with things. If it became too difficult, I would move to something else. Nothing was a priority. I felt that I had not accomplished anything that would lead to anything satisfying or momentous. 

As an undergraduate, I remember waiting three and a half years to speak with a college counselor. I was told that I had exceeded the number of credits required to be a college senior. But those credits were in many different subjects and were not specific to a single discipline. Therefore, this prevented me from graduating at that time. After deciding on my field of study, it took an additional two years for me to graduate. I was distraught because I did plan.

After this experience, I still had not learned my lesson. I moved from job to job for years. I never felt that I was making any accomplishments. It was a struggle emotionally and financially. However, I finally woke up. I was able to comprehend the importance of setting goals. I had the desire to create a plan and pinpoint my triumphs.

 For those who are frustrated because they feel that they have not achieved or cannot recollect any real accomplishments, settings goals may be what you need. Creating and documenting goals is important. It produces a path for achievements.  It promotes accountability. You can also monitor and validate your successes. It also keeps us motivated, encouraged, and inspired.

Here are 7 Spectacular tips for setting goals:

  1. Brainstorm and envision your goals and why these goals are important to you.
  2. Create a list of immediate and realistic goals that you want to achieve. The goals should be purpose-driven.
  3. Estimate the length of time it will take and how much time you will need to set aside to achieve the goal.
  4. Out of those goals pick the first 3-4 important ones that you would like to focus on first. Do not overwhelm yourself with trying to focus on too many things at once.
  5. Use a checklist to document your goals and measure your progress and achievements.
  6. Stay focused by removing any distractions. Surround yourself with people who want to see you succeed and are supportive. Ponder on the rewards of achieving your goals.
  7. Review you list of goals to determine which have been accomplished and are pending. During this time, you can also determine whether you want to add new goals or change any goals on the list.

Tracking your goals helps you to remain on course. You are also able to stay motivated. Remember to set goals that are measurable, stay committed and focus on the prize which is to manifest your vision into actuality.

The free planners below will assist with keeping a record of your goals and help to track your progress. Goal setting also aids in promoting life changes and enhances self-confidence.


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Sunday, May 2, 2021

The Disparaging Effects of Implicit Bias

Throughout our lives, we developed beliefs, perceptions, and attitudes that are misinformed and stereotypical. This incorrect information can impact our perceptions and thoughts about individuals and things. These misconceptions are developed because of the information we received from family and through life experiences. This unconscious behavior is called implicit Bias.  These preconceptions and actions are unintentional and done without cognizance.

Implicit Bias can affect our evaluations and opinions of others. It can also negatively impact our decisions and cause victims to suppress the implicit attitudes perpetrated against them. This behavior can also adversely influence our ability to be open-minded and make informed assessments.

In the child welfare agency, Implicit Bias has impacted families of color. Research has shown the prevalence of racial overrepresentation of Black, Latino, and Native families who have entered the child welfare system.  All have more substantiated cases than White families.    

Studies show that racial disparities in child welfare transpire among families of color on every case process level. It is seen during the social worker's initial assessment of the families until the case is terminated.

The usual process with child welfare begins when a call is received suspecting child abuse. This prompts an investigation. The child welfare worker will meet with the family to assess and establish whether these accusations are true.  During this process, the worker decides whether the allegations are unproven or are confirmed.  If the allegations are accurate, then a child welfare case will be opened for further assistance and monitoring.

During the initial investigation, the worker does several assessments to determine the possibility of current, repeated, or potential child abuse. Families that are evaluated at a low-mild chance of child endangerment can be referred to less invasive services. This means that the families would not have to be monitored by the court system. They also can be connected to a community agency that would provide them with an array of resources to meet their need.

During the worker's assessment, it can also be determined whether children can remain with their parents or be removed.

There are those situations where it is evident child welfare services need to intervene in families' lives. In this case, some form of child abuse or neglect was apparent.  However, there is an occurrence of cases where child abuse or neglect may not be that clear.  This is when the social worker must decide on the family's outcome. This is also where Implicit Bias could be a contributing factor, especially when workers do not recognize their biases.

In my previous blog, I explained how I worked with a mother who did everything possible to get her children back. The supervisor insisted that basically, I uncover a shortcoming with this mother to inhibit her from reunifying with her children. My co-workers suggested this supervisor adopted previous practices where children from specific environments were not returned home for some reason. Looking back on this situation and other shared experiences, I see this as Implicit Bias.  This family was of color and from a low socioeconomic background.  The parent complied with all required services and more. However, the supervisor's suggestion was unnecessary and unfair.

As a child welfare social worker, I have witnessed most families served were Black and Latino. I observed several instances of Implicit Bias among co-workers. There are several occurrences where investigative social workers are deceptive when interviewing the families for possible neglect. They will ask the parents a series of questions regarding their past and present lifestyle. It may be a situation where a report was made to CPS indicating the parents were arguing around the children.

The investigator questions casually if the parent used drugs or alcohol.

The parents may disclose they previously smoked marijuana. The worker will make a case that the parents are current drug users.

I have seen this and other similar examples in many case situations among minority families. 

There was also a situation where I received 2 new cases that involved working with young black women. The case was transferred to me because the previous worker, who was of a different race, failed to provide the young women with the needed services. It was explained that the worker had a habit of focusing more on his male clients and less on the women.

Another example was a worker who claimed he did not connect with a black male client. He stated that the young man looked like a "Gang Banger."

Implicit Bias has been observed with supervisors and managers. An example involved the female black workers being reprimanded for sharing their knowledge about the job and not being submissive to a male supervisor of a different race.

Implicit Bias could be alleviated if culturally appropriate guidelines, measures, and practices were enforced.  These policies need to be utilized by managers as well as staff. This will encourage staff to change or become aware of their attitudes.

The bottom line is that it is crucial to first acknowledge the problem before the issues can be addressed.



Beniwal, R. (n.d.). Implicit Bias in Child Welfare ... - OpenCommons@UConn.

Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity | Center for the Study of Social Policy. (n.d.). Implicit Racial Bias 101: Exploring Implicit Bias in Child Protection.

Lee, J., Ackerman-Brimberg, M., & Bell, Z. (2016, December 23). Implicit Bias in the Child Welfare, Education and Mental Health Systems. National Center for Youth Law.

Merritt, D. H. (n.d.). How Do Families Experience and Interact with CPS? - Darcey H. Merritt, 2020. SAGE Journals.

Why is it so Difficult Identifying our own Strengths?

I became a social worker because I enjoy helping others, seeing people happy, and succeeding. My beloved mother always loved helping others....