Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Training to Volunteer...

This weekend I’ll be in Boston for training to become a DSS Volunteer Case Reviewer. This is part of one of my goals for this year: To be active in the foster care community. I’m looking forward to the chance to see things from inside the system, but I’m not sure how I’ll handle what I’ll see. Many of the people whose (foster care) blogs I read confirm that it can be heartwrenching at times to see and hear about the experiences faced by these children. That, compounded with the frustrations a system woefully inadequate to the task of helping them, often lead to burnout. I’m mentally preparing myself for that, but I hope I’m strong enough to stay with it.

Every foster child who is put into care in Massachusetts receives a status review about every six months, at which time a case reviewer from the DSS Foster Care Review Unit, a member of the administrative staff from the local DSS area office and a Volunteer Case Reviewer from the local community meet to review the child’s service plan (what DSS must and can do) and discuss progress towards the established goals for the child. My role as a Volunteer Case Reviewer is to bring an outsiders understanding to this process, to help the DSS people understand those issues and concerns that they, as people entrenched in the system, might not consider.

Very often, the state likes to bring in people for these reviews who share the same cultural or ethnic background as the child and family, but this is surprisingly difficult. I’m a little bit of an asset because I speak Spanish and Portuguese, and because I have a fair awareness of the cultural sensitivities of a variety of cultures. The woman who interviewed me for this position fairly drooled when she found out these things, so I guess they’re skills they can use. It will be truly rewarding if that’s the case. I became interested in languages because I really liked connecting with people through them; if I’m able to use them to make someone’s life a little better, that gives them a much higher, more sacred sense of importance to me.

There is more information on foster care in the state of Massachusetts [HERE], if you’re interested in learning more.

In other news (this is for you, Kizz), I managed to fall down the entire flight of stairs from my office in the attic to the second floor of our house last night. My legs were jello after finishing an hour-long training ride on my bike and, when I missed the first step, there was no chance for recovery. I did not stick the landing, and cannot compete in the all-around. Fortunately, I didn’t bruise anything except my pride, but as I was going down, all I could think of was, “Jesus, there sure are a lot of stairs!” It seemed like I tumbled for a good 3 minutes!

My apologies go out to Caleb and Maeve for making such a racket. Their daughters’ bedroom is right underneath the stairs, and Elena woke up at the sound of the gawdawful clattering of my ass going over my tea kettle. I hope she didn’t fuss too much!


Kizz said...

I was wondering about that. This is why it's good that I live on one level. Do you see how dangerous working out can be? I'm telling The Grammar Snob! :)

Laurie B said...

Ohh, Boo! Falling down the stairs is nasty. Take a bit of time each day to do a body/mind meld. If something seems out of sorts, go et an x-ry or a massge or something. Stairs are hard on abody, they are meant for foot traffic.

Otherwise, DSS and all of the kids in their care can use your love and kindness and care and compassion. I'm trusting here that your Dear Wifeness and kidlings know that you are the social justice hero and are carrying them all behind your shield and just in front of your heart? It's got your heart and souls, does it appeal to them as well?