My office is in the copy room at work.
This means that the hustle and bustle is constant. Co-workers are in and out, updating files, printing court reports, making sure their kids’ placements have been properly documented as they’ve moved to yet another home in their foster care journey.
Sometimes they’re chatty. They share about a tough case or celebrate when some kiddos finally find permanency. Sometimes they ask about my girls or our church.
I really enjoy my co-workers. They’re personable and dedicated, and I’m proud to be on their team.
Some days, like today, are a bit different in my office. People seem even busier than normal. They’re still in and out to use the copy machine and printer, but there’s less chatting and more rushing. I notice their quickened strides and tired eyes.
Today, I can almost feel the stress they’re experiencing as they hurry to complete all they have to do, looking forward to a weekend that they’re so desperate to reach.
I can sense overwhelm in the air. I think it lingers just above our third floor happenings everyday, but on particular days, it seems to settle in, descending like a fog.
It’s days like these, when the air is just a little bit thicker, that I assume we can all feel it. This work always matters, but sometimes there’s a deeper sense of the immensity of the job.
Kids have to leave homes at a moment’s notice. New cases come pouring in. Caseloads grow too quickly for anyone to do much more than tread water and hope for the best.
These workers, who buzz around the office, are crucial to the child welfare world and our community at large.
They’re the ones visiting children in their foster homes – once, twice, sometimes three times a month. They’re the ones building rapport with foster parents, getting to know their clients, and coordinating ever-changing schedules. They’re the ones sitting in the hospital waiting room on the weekend when there’s no bed for the teenager who needs to be admitted for their own safety.
They’re the ones showing up to court, thick files in hand. And they’re the ones who sometimes wait hours for the judge to call the case, all the while mentally calculating how many extra hours they’ll now be working this evening to make up for the delay.
And these workers, who come in and out of my office with exasperated sighs, carry stories. Stories of trauma and abuse. Stories of struggle and pain. Stories of redemption and hope. And stories that haven’t been made quite right.
It’s no wonder that this job had such turnover. Who could carry it all? The brokenness of this world can be too much at times.
And yet, these case workers, my co-workers, keep showing up. When I arrive back at my desk for my next day of work, there they are.
Back to the mess and the hard. Back to the kids who depend on them to be their advocates. Back to the parents who are working diligently toward reunification. Back to the cases that take years to close. Back to the workload that continually seems to expand.
I’ve never had the honor and burden of doing case work, but I’ve been around long enough to know, this calling is not for the faint of heart.
So to my friends and co-workers who show up daily, thank you. Your commitment makes our community better, and we’re grateful for the sacrifices you make.
You are seen, and you are loved.