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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation

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there are some things you just don't read about in newspapers
Sometimes, there is a very real feeling that clients, when they call, translate you saying:

"I cannot help you, but here is the number of someone who can."


"I could help you, but I am evil and mock your pain. Instead, I will make you call a useless person while I laugh hysterically, waiting for the next victim caller."

You'd be amazed how often two is closer to correct than one. Mostly because it has come to my attention that my theoretical, mostly-sure-I-hated-humans thing is now moving into *working theory*. Okay, two is not completely accurate--at this point, I'm thinking of petitioning to have my caseworker privileges restored *just* to be able to fix incredibly, monumentally, *epically* stupid mistakes and problems in cases.

I was a good caseworker, but by no means brilliant--what I was valued for was my ability to *talk* clients into what I wanted them to do and talk them *out* of suing, and to basically *make* the program do what I wanted. And I was able to do this in the alloted interview period and/or reception room meeting. This led to fascinating current problems showing up, since we were all encouraged to basically hack the program to make it work, because frankly, there was no other way. So in my cases, my casenotes would have all the usual, then a paragraph of "Okay, for this, I had to do this this and this and this, and this is why I entered this here insted of that". I'm sorry, that's not translatable to English. Just assume I'm amazing and we'll all go home happy.

The problem we're running into now--oh God, problem, I say that like there is only *one*--is that when the state thought it would privatize immeidately, it pink slipped a lot of people, pending the date their office closed and/or the office changed, which were fixed dates. In s shocking turn of events, people like, say, me, ran ran ran for the hills of employment before that date. Other people took early retirement. A lot of people with tons of experince couldn't get placed in teh new system unless they moved, like, *across the state*. So they found other jobs. So they left. We lost the best of the best, the most expereinced, the ones who could actually *make this better*, all in one fell state swoop of stupidity.

It all looked dandy until the privatization rollout in January. I'm not sure if I ever posted on the way all of us watched a disaster that we'd all been pretty convinced since day one would occur, but the rollout and pink slipping was put on hold--a big, WAIT YOU CAN KEEP YOUR JOB FOR ANOTHER SIX MONTHS REALLY! Most of us laughed a lot. Some of us were depressed, because we'd liked our jobs before the great Pink Slipping. Some of us stared warily at the phones and realized that if our job was interacting with clients, we were screwed. Which we were. And still are. So they hired temps to take the caseworker jobs. It takes three months of training to even sit a caseworker at a desk with a *minimal knowledge* of policy. It takes one month if you only want them to know one program instead of four. But tha'ts just *minimal knowledge*. The mistakes coming out now are mostly due to people having *no idea* they're making policy mistakes. ONe day, ask me how to budget a household with two parents who have a mutual child and children from other marriages as well on both sides for TANF. And I will tell you I haven't worked a case in ten months, and I'd need a flowchart and two different paper budgets to work it, as well as the handbook open in front of me. This stuff is *not* easy.

It does hurt, a little. I can answer their questions, read a case, explain what's wrong or find someone who can. But I can't fix a damn thing. And I see cases that are *destroyed*, someone with no clue going in there and just wrecking it to the point where we'd need someone with database editing privileges to go in there and *erase data* because there's just no other way to fix the income mistakes, household mistakes, sanctions mistakes. That just--never stops hurting. Never stops enraging me, because it didn't have to be this way. It *shouldn't* be this way. It wasn't a year ago. It wasn't even nine months ago But it is now, and I just can't get over we went from having the best, fastest, most reliable social services in the country on the state level to this.

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Ahhh, but the world is no longer about *customer* service, is it? It's about how much money can be saved by cutting x amount of funding, never mind that the funding was there for a *reason*. It's about paying the least and ignoring the fact that "least money" =/= "best customer service" because, by paying the least, there is now more money available for . . . something. That doesn't necessarily benefit customers or the employees, but probably benefits the people running the place.

It is so interesting to read about the privatization of CHIP and the other social programs from the inside. I can read the articles and know what's going on, but it's heartbreaking to see that it really is just as bad as it looks. What a mess it all turned out to be.

I'll be thinking good thoughts for you!

Saw a bumper sticker yesterday that about summed it up: "Earth is the lunatic asylum of the Universe." And I finally rented "Syriana" which didn't help my despair level. Sometimes I just wish a huge meteor would hit the planet and wipe us all out - leaving only the rabbits in charge. What's the that saying? About how you can tell how advanced or enlightened a civilization is by how it treats its weakest members? Ummmm....yeah.

I experienced this from the other side of the desk at the end of last year/beginning of this year when I tried applying for medicaid and heating assistance and the state-funded health insurance for low-income people. Basically, I was informed since I don't have 25 kids and made a whopping $5,600 between July 1st and January 1st, I made way too much to qualify for any kind of health care assistance OR heating assistance. I don't know what fantasy-land the policy makers behind this live in, but it must be perennially 1934 where bread is 5 cents a loaf and doctors make house calls for free.

I hear you there. I made -- I kid you not -- ONE DOLLAR over the limit for New Jersey's assistance programs.

The caseworker told me that my best bet was to hurry up and get pregnant. She wasn't kidding, either, which I found truly scary.

So they hired temps to take the caseworker jobs.

That wave of horror you just felt emanating from California? That was me. I literally gasped when I read that.

Oh, grrrrrrr. Have you considered contacting a newspaper? It might be worthwhile to be an anonymous source if they can print a juicy article and embarass the people in charge. Because this is criminal.

Sorry for the random post! However, I've been looking for a link to something I swear I got from your livejournal (but I'm not sure since you have so many interesting SGA posts~). It was speculation/explanation on Sheppard's military history regarding exactly what he was training as in the Air Force that would make him so familiar with piloting aircraft, dealing with terrorist situations and close combat, etc. Does any of this ring a bell? If so, I would really appreciate you directing me to it! Thanks!

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