Los Angeles County
CSWs who dont have six placements at the
end of this month are behind. Please get them to do as many placements
as possible. As a division we are behind. If you can think of any way
you may need assistance, see me. note from a department deputy
Union steward Margaret Lipton, Los Angeles childrens social worker, says, The emphasis is not on quality adoptions, but on numbers. We are all in favor of adoptions. Our job is to make sure that it is the appropriate placement for the child, but there is so much pressure from the department that we cant do our jobs. It hasnt always been like this, but under the current administration, what comes out is pressure for numbers because this administration wants to look good. They want to have the most placements. We have department deputies competing for who has the most placements. It has turned into a factory atmosphere.
Lipton says that workers often complain that drafts of their reports are changed by their supervisors, on the orders of their deputies or someone higher up. The supervisor will change the whole plan for a child. If the workers refuse to sign the altered reports, they are considered insubordinate. The workers reports are being changed to fit the departments mission, Lipton charges.
According to Lipton, workers will go to court so that they can testify under oath, with the courts protection, about their disagreements with the departments plans. In response, the department discourages workers from going to court and even threatens to charge them with insubordination if they do go. Lipton feels that the department director is conducting a reign of terror.
Workers in this agency feel like they have two jobs: one to protect clients and the other to protect their jobs, she says. It is pretty scary, because you feel that if you dont dot every I and cross every t according to policy, then you will get a pink slip. The workers feel like they are always threatened with bad evaluations.
If they dont agree with the departments plan for a child, they understand what will happen, and they are just trying act in the childs best interest. Maybe a child shouldnt be in a certain adoptive house, where the person planning to adopt is not the right person, possibly endangering the child. But the person who is trying to adopt will call the right person or grease the right wheels, the board of supervisors, or the director maybe, and the next thing you know the worker gets a call and his hands are tied for the rest of the case. You do all you can without getting fired, but the department makes it very difficult. Workers are reluctant to talk for fear of retaliation. They are really afraid. Last year we lost 34 adoption workers out of 188, and about 15 are on stress leave.
One worker, who was afraid to use her name, described being threatened: I had a birth parent who was adamantly opposing the recommended plan of adoption, and the department didnt want that person coming to the hearing. I was warned that if I informed the parent about the hearing, I would be disciplined. Ive had parents that could have been reunified and been good parents if the services were provided to them, but the emphasis is no longer on children and family services, the emphasis is on adoption.