Being a foster parent for a number of years now, I have run into the good, the bad and the ugly regarding DCS Case Workers. My complaints have been many and my crap list is long.

If you are a foster parent, you know exactly what I am talking about. Among my most memorable Case Workers are the following:

• The I’ll Call You Back 2 Days After Your Emergency Situation Case Worker
• The I’ll Ignore Your Emails Until You CC My Supervisor Case Worker
• The I Was Supposed to Be There 3 Hours Ago, but I’ll Call to Tell You Tomorrow that I’m Not Coming Case Worker
• The I’m Not Your Case Worker Anymore, but I Won’t Notify You of That Case Worker
• The Oops, I Got Fired and You’ll Find Out 2 Weeks and 15 Emails Later Case Worker
• The I Know You’ve Had this Kid for 6 Months, but He is Going to a Pre-Adoptive Home TODAY Case Worker

I love my kids and when their wants and needs aren’t met because of a Case Worker, it seriously ticks me off.

They don’t care about their job.

Why can’t they just get it together?

These kids are just a job to them.

I’d like to have just one reply to my 7 emails from the past 3 days. 

I have to take this kid to a doctor and her insurance hasn’t been approved. 

Why don’t they care?


All of these frustrations and more have run through my head.

As a long time teacher, education professional and foster mom, my experiences and trainings are vast. I’ve seen a lot, heard a lot and done a lot, but a short time ago, I was stopped in my tracks and the shame that I experienced in those few moments cut me to my core.

If you have never asked a DCS professional about their job, you should.

The response may go a little like this…
DCS workers live in constant fear.
They are afraid of making a mistake.
They are afraid of ticking off a foster parent who will go to their supervisor if they slip up.
They are afraid of screwing up in court and getting raked over the coals by the judge.
They are afraid of missing an adoption paperwork deadline and depriving a foster child of their forever home.
They are afraid that maybe that father really didn’t molest his child and his life may be ruined.
They are afraid that maybe it’s a mistake to give this child back to its mother, but they have no choice.
They are afraid that a kid they place in a foster home might end up molested or abused even further.
They are afraid that they will show up to investigate a CPS report and will be shot.
They are afraid that they will miss something when investigating an abuse report, fail to remove the child and the child wind up hurt or dead.
They are afraid that they may have to tell this 15-year-old foster child that she has to go to a teen group home because nobody wants to take the teenage girls.
They are afraid that they have to pick up lice treatment on the way home for the 12th time because that little 4-year-old head scratcher needed a long hug when she was told she wasn’t going back home tonight.
They are afraid that they are losing their passion and losing sight of why they went into this field in the first place.
They are in fear of being stalked by an angry bio family when out in the community with their own children.
They are afraid of who could knock on their door to take revenge on them for removing a child.
They are afraid of being raped, hurt, killed or worse yet, their own children being targeted.
They are afraid that they will have to miss their son’s basketball game yet again because an emergency popped up in a foster home.
They are afraid they will miss their daughter’s performance because they have a stack of paperwork and an emergency court hearing was just scheduled for 8 AM tomorrow morning.
They are afraid that much-needed weekend trip with their very neglected spouse will be cut short because they are on call.
They are afraid that they won’t be able to pay their bills this month because their salary is crap.

DCS workers are beaten down, often depressed and haven’t dealt with their own Post Traumatic Stress from the horrific scenes and experiences they have witnessed due to their jobs. They are HATED by everyone. Their very existence as a Social Worker is despised. The bio parents hate them for taking their kids. The kids hate them for taking them from their parents. The foster parents hate them for a million other reasons. The media hates them because of tragic incidents that have happened that already haunt them and keep them up at night.

They can’t sleep because every time the phone rings, they jump out of their skin afraid of what horror story is going to be on the other end. Their job is thankless with the exception of the small, internal celebrations and encouragements from colleagues. Earning a “jeans” day gives them that little boost they need to keep going. Having a foster mom tell that she is grateful they are on the case keeps them going strong for weeks. Having a child trust them enough to open up to them about their abuse makes it all a little more worthwhile. Seeing the beaming grins at adoption court reminds them why they continue to do what they do. Running into that child who was reunited with mom five years ago and he tells them that mom is still sober and he is on the honor roll…that made missing their own child’s games a little more worth it. It makes the nightmares a little less scary. It makes them stand a little taller and keep their chin up a little longer. A small thank you gives them the encouragement to keep fighting for these children who desperately need them.

But, no. They don’t care. Isn’t it obvious?

(For fear of losing their jobs, I don’t anticipate any DCS Professionals will comment on this article.)

Thank a Foster Parent HERE

Thank a DCS Professional HERE

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Read More:                                                                                                                        I COULD NEVER BE A FOSTER PARENT                                                                       FOSTER PARENTS CAN BE CRAPPY TOO


  1. JustAnotherWorker says:

    As a child protection worker in Ontario, I thank you for this! Sometimes I feel so bad when I realize I had forgotten to get back to a foster parent or forgotten todo something. I work very hard and have a reputation for always being on top of things, but things still fall to the side for too much. I have 22 kids on my caseload, two kids at home, and wake up every single night with anxiety attacks worried about work issues. Sometimes I am worried about some crisis one of my kids is going through at work, or worried about some paperwork I can’t seem to get done… Or worried about both… and of course I also live with the same issues all parents have at home! Even though I do not have any specific mental health issues, the stress of my work combined with the stress of my personal life became so overwhelming to me that at one point that I had to seek therapy just to cope, because giving up my job nor giving up parenting is an option.

    :ecause the most reliable way I have time to stay in touch with my foster parents and the kids I work with this by cell phone, and I do not get a cell phone from my work, everybody has my “personal” number. That means I get text messages and phone calls all night and all weekend and even when I’m on vacation. I try to tell myself to ignore them, but I never do, and my own family suffers.

    In my almost 15 years of cps work, I have certainly met a few workers like referred to above, who have been lazy and not done their work. Very few though, most of them try their best, and care deeply. My colleagues and myself are often texting and calling each other on evenings and weekends, when we are off the clock, to problem solve work issues and provide encouragement and support to each other.

    I will, however, say that many social workers do not seem to show foster parents the respect they deserve. Many of my colleagues to not seem to think it matters to let foster parents know when they are going to be late, etcetera. I am NOT like this. I have the upmost respect for what foster parents do, I could not do what I do without them, and I am always aware that their job is also their home! Most foster parents treat me respectfully as well. I’ve had a few that have not, and it truly breaks my heart when they say, often in front of the kids, that this is only a job, and that they have to do it 24 /7. I may get off the clock at 5 or 6 or 7 p.m….but there is very little of my free time that is not spent thinking or worrying about work issues When I am sitting outside my daughter swim lesson on weekend mornings, you can pretty much guarantee I am either texting one of the kids I work with, or typing case notes into my phone . When my daughter asks if I saw her swim, I have to lie! Also, at the end of the day, foster parents chose their job just like I chose mine. I don’t think it’s fair of them to throw it in my face . Luckily , it doesn’t happen often, but when it does its really hurts.


  2. Kari says:

    WOAH. This was just what I needed to read…my husband and I are currently in the process of adopting four siblings out of foster care in another state. I never ever thought for one second that the delays we experience along the way would not in fact be related to government delays involving paperwork etc. but instead the DCS worker not being organized in any way shape or form. I try to reign it in, I try to be understanding, I leave her alone for a time or two but it always comes back to bite me later. I’ve been very clear to them from the beginning that I’m on their side, I really am but I’ve got to fight for these kids just as hard too! I know it’s a lot of work and I know that we aren’t their only case to deal with. What are some tips you might have to “riding it out” with a social worker who is just poorly suited for that job? Because in all fairness those do exist as well. Thank you so much for providing an insane amount of perspective, seriously. THANK YOU!


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