A social worker’s rant.
Imagine this possible scenario :
I have a client who is 7 months pregnant and has a 1 year old child and will be homeless in two days. She owns exactly 2 pairs of pants (one cut off into shorts) and 2 t-shirts.
I have called LAHSA and left a message for the Emergency Response Team. (seriously, why am I always leaving these folks voice mail, it’s the EMERGENCY RESPONSE number, shouldn’t someone be there to ANSWER THE PHONE?!?!?) I have given her the name and phone number of every resource I have for her and the father of her unborn child.
I have called every mission and shelter I know of and no one has a bed. He is willing to sleep in the car is she and the baby can have a safe warm bed.
She has patiently explained her situation over and over again to workers who sat in for me while I ran through the building making calls for her on other telephone lines.
At last, all I needed was someone to open the closet where the clothes you all donate are kept. 3 people have the key – one is sick, one is out on an errand and the other has just completed her 15 minute break. ( I assume since her sign has been up fo r the ;ast 20 minutes). I eventually found her in the conference room walking through the tables and displays at the Job Fair. 30 minutes later I reminded her that I needed to ask her to open the closet.
“What’s your hurry?” her sidekick friend asked. My hurry, Mrs S., is that I am doing my best to serve 150 homeless families and give this mother everything she needs and not ask her to wait even longer than she has because you have decided to take a 45 minute break from your job.
Asking for help is hard enough, being treated as an after thought (or as a chore) will keep people from coming back and working with the services offered to them.
I am not asking you to give up any of your personal break time, but when you decided to take a break that is 3x longer than the one you are paid for – try to remember that no homeless mother gets a 45 minute break from needed the services she is asking us for.