Monday, August 31, 2009
How can I find stats for this or other blogspot blogs? I'm interested in knowing approximately how many visitors I have, where they/you are (geographically), and how they/you are finding the blog. Many of you have referred to these data for your own blogs, so I know it must be possible.
Thanks for your help!
Saturday, August 29, 2009
A friend is visiting, so I set him to work after Shabbat ended. He drilled three holes in the ceiling for me to hang some lamps from IKEA. And then he identified the location of the leak in my sink, which I could probably have done myself but haven't bothered with.
And this is why it is good to have a man in the house.
Friday, August 28, 2009
The larger tragedy that this piece illustrates is the breathtaking, frightening, unchecked social policing power exercised by the Executive branch of state governments -- including that right here in [our jurisdiction] -- who destroy children and families on the basis of biases, inaccurate and incomplete information, and who remain protected from accountability by closed Family Court courtrooms.
Think it can't happen here? It happens every day. In the past year, more than 60% of the children involved in my students' cases have been returned home to their parents from foster care placements without being found abused or neglected. That means that six of every ten children seized by your government -- with your money, in your name -- from living rooms and schoolhouses and their own bedrooms, housed with strangers and deprived of the comforts of home, family and friends, turn out not to have been abused or neglected. Oops! Like furniture, the government agrees to send them home, with nary an apology or regret at the trauma unnecessarily inflicted on them. In baseball, four successes in ten tries is Hall of Fame stuff. With respect to children's lives, however, it is tragic, reckless, dismal failure.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Earlier today I was looking at media coverage of Senator Kennedy's life. So of course I ended up clicking on links to all sorts of very significant stories: Dog rescues owner from runaway hot-air balloon, and the like. (Yes, I made that up.)
But this one is real. Did a Mother Lose Her Child Because She Doesn't Speak English?
Basically, the story is this. (With apologies for any mis-remembered details. I read the article about eight hours ago, it's almost midnight, and I don't feel like re-reading. I'm lazy.) Mom leaves her small town in Mexico where she is a member of an indigenous tribe; Spanish is her second language, her tribe's language is the only one she speaks fluently. She makes it to the US without the appropriate paperwork. She finds a place to live and a way to make money. And then she has a baby. She doesn't speak any English, her Spanish is poor, and there are more students in some state universities than there are people worldwide who speak her native language. So she can't communicate with the folks at the hospital. Add to that the fact that she hadn't bought formula (because of course every new mom plans to feed her baby formula and stocks up on it before the baby is born; it's not like it's expensive or anything like that) or other trappings of an American babyhood, and someone makes the decision that she won't be able to take care of the baby.
Wow. Where to start. With the glaring lack of cultural sensitivity? With the tenuous-at-best foundation for the removal? With the apparent indifference to the child's well-being?
How about this. Mom faces deportation. But her child is in a foster home, and the article implies that the department of human services intends to retain custody. But if Mom is deported, she returns to her town where she speaks the language. And even if not speaking the dominant language were an acceptable justification for removal (just typing that makes me cringe), shouldn't the child be returned to her mother when that reason goes away?
All I know about this case is what was reported in the article I linked to, and I'm sure that there are facts that were left out that would make the real story more balanced and less sensational. But then I wouldn't have read it. Nevertheless, even if there were some reasonable justification for removal, even if the department intends to let the baby return to Mexico with her mother, still this article provokes thought about culture, our values, our assumptions, and what is really best for children.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
The only thing left now is to wait and see what else they manage to mess up.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Reb(el) With a Cause
She's told me that one of her causes will definitely be child welfare related, so there's an additional incentive to help her out.
What could go wrong? Lolita (no pseudonym here, that's the real name of the fingerprinting person) could be out of the office, the machine could be broken, the paperwork could be wrong, Lolita could be expecting only HCC and not me such that--well, I don't know what the consequence would be...
Add your guess in the comments, and if you're right, your prize is that you clearly have survived the licensing process already.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Take a moment to think about everything that has gone wrong and could go wrong in my never-ending licensing process.
Did you think "FBI background check could be lost"? If you did, you win! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the brilliant agency with which I work which 1. sends fingerprints to the FBI electronically, 2. gets the report back from the FBI electronically (as best as I can tell), and 3. has all of the records electronically, cannot find my report because it was marked with the "emergency/temp" code.
Licensing Worker tells me this (that it was coded wrong) while doing her best to imply that the report is lost. I ask if this experience indicates that my HCC (Highly Competent Coworker) needs to indicate anything specific when she goes to get fingerprinted next week. "Oh no, why would she need to know anything? I put her in the system as your backup." Okay sure, you didn't mis-code me?
This issue did come up because Licensing Worker is finally writing my report (the one that, at my second home visit on July 22, she told me she would write by the end of the month--clearly she meant the end of "a" month, not "the" month). Which means that she is at least writing it before she gets my HCC's background check. But she wouldn't give me any sort of a timeframe since she is working on other reports at the same time.
* The actual transcript of the first few lines of the call:
Me: "Hello, this is [Foster Ima]."
Me: "Oh, [Licensing Worker]!"
Now, she and I both work for our Big City and we have caller ID on our work phones. So when she calls me, her phone shows that she's calling [Ima, Foster]. However, her number is programmed wrong. So I have to remember that [Smith, Jane] is actually [Worker, Licensing]. Which is the only way that I did figure out who was calling. Otherwise, I would have had to say "Who the hockey sticks is this?"
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
1. I'm in the middle of two knitting projects. One is a scarf. (Thanks to Yondalla who linked to this pattern quite some time ago.) I'm on row 260+. It's long enough to wear but not nearly as long as a scarf you would find in a store. I have plenty of yarn left in the ginormous skein that I've been shlepping with me from place to place at least since I started law school. But I Want. To. Be. Finished. The other project is a wine gift bag. I'm making up the pattern as I go. It's in 5 pieces. Each side is 70 rows. I'm on row 37 of the second side. And I Want. To. Be. Finished. Noting a theme here?
2. My job search. I have lots of leads even though I'm not doing terribly much towards them at the moment. Today I heard about a job that will be posted next week. I heard about this job from the person doing the hiring. Before I even knew about the job, she (oh let's call her Possible New Boss--PNB--just for the sake of convenience) emailed her boss to ask if they could hire me. PNB's boss--who I also know, pretty well in fact from a professional perspective--said that I would have to apply. But really, doesn't this sound pretty good? First response of PNB to hearing that my job is being eliminated is "this is horrible, we need to find you a job." Second response of PNB is to email her boss to try to hire me. So now I'm irresponsibly tempted to forego any job searching this week, and Can't. Wait. until next week. But it's only Tuesday.
Now that you're caught up--
The original second back-up person is a co-worker of mine. Let's call her Highly Competent Coworker (HCC). HCC mailed her paperwork for her background check about two weeks ago. HCC then had the unmitigated gall to go on vacation (not related to this story, I just wanted to say "unmitigated gall"). I was out of the office yesterday when HCC came back. So I spoke with HCC this morning. She recounted the voice mail she received. "Hello. I've scheduled you to come in for fingerprints next Tuesday at 11."
I need to give props to HCC. If I had gotten that voice mail, I would have fumed (and blogged!) and then called back saying that the time she had mentioned was not possible for me. HCC, on the other hand, who is a Very Busy Person, found that her calendar was clear and accepted the appointment. She suggested to me--unnecessarily, of course, as I agree with her 100%--that perhaps the person from the Agency should not have just dictated a time. Not usually the best way to schedule meetings.
And this is what is wrong with the Agency.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
So the job search that was originally urgent on account of an embarrassing Facebook incident and then relaxed due to, well, no real reason in particular, is now urgent again. Ideally, I will be able to have a seamless transition. If that doesn't happen, I've sent my resume to some legal temp agencies (document review very well might be the most boring job that a lawyer can do, but it pays better than unemployment and it pays better than telemarketing).
But I find myself also looking forward to a break. I can take some days to do a really good cleaning of my apartment. I can take a day (or two-day) trip to the beach. I can drive around my Big City taking photos. I can visit My Dad who is doing a teaching gig in Budapest for the fall semester (though I asked My Mom what she thought of that idea, and got a "no, that's Stupid" response).
Or I can have some time to get to know a kiddo.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Getting kids ready in the morning:
- Take photos of each step in the morning routine; hang them up in a timeline type of format at kid height.
- Create a fun, upbeat (perhaps gradually increasing in upbeat-ness) playlist/CD that is the right length for getting ready. Then the kiddo will know "by the time X song is done, I need to have my teeth brushed"; "by the time Y song is done, I need to be dressed"; etc.
- Free kids' audiobook at AudibleKids. I've not checked it out myself, so I don't know what type of registration is necessary, if there's a limit to number of books, how big the selection of books is... But the magazine does mention that you need to click on the RIF logo.
- Coloring pages at National Geographic
- Other fun paper projects at cubeecraft.com and thetoymaker.com
- Did you know that the Tooth Fairy has a website? Not free, but fun swag.
- Do you have trouble getting your kiddos to eat their veggies? (or anything else that you want them to eat?) A reader contributed a suggestion to use dice to determine how many more bites your kiddo needs to eat before being excused. Let the kiddo roll the dice, and it's a fun and empowering way to involve kiddo in healthy eating. (I don't have an opinion on whether it's a good idea to do the "two more bites" thing with kids. But if you're going to do it...)
Here are the details:
This is a reminder that the The Legal Center for Foster Care and Education will be hosting a conference callTOMORROW that explores the link between improving educational outcomes and achieving permanency for children in care. The call will feature speakers who have or are currently conducting research indicating a link between school success and increasing rates of permanency.
The discussion will also highlight several education-related factors that undermine or support permanency goals, the correlation between educationally at-risk youth and those at-risk of failing to achieve permanency, and the role of education issues in permanency planning.The call will take place on Tomorrow, August 11th at 3pm (Eastern).
Conference Dial-in Number:218-339-4300
Participant Access Code:427775
Sunday, August 9, 2009
I had my second home visit more than two weeks ago on Wednesday. On Monday, I emailed my licensing worker to confirm the appointment and asked for her to let me know in advance if there was any additional paperwork that she needed so that I could have it ready for her. Of course, I didn't hear anything from her.
But when she showed up, the first thing she did was to tell me that "there's a new policy" that back-up caregivers need background checks. (Note that I think this requirement makes sense, though it is inconsistently applied, and if it makes sense now, didn't it make sense in September when I provided names?) This of course requires people who don't have the same sense of urgency as I have to take actions that are not part of their day-to-day life. There is a form that needs to be notarized (although the form actually allows signing in front of an agency employee as an alternative, but Licensing Worker doesn't understand that) which means that it can't be returned by fax or by PDF. If Licensing Worker had sent me the forms on Monday, I could have had my back-ups fill them out on Tuesday and get them notarized my back-ups are both co-workers, and we have a notary in the building), and I could have returned them on Wednesday. But no, that would be too easy.
Okay, so setting that aside for a moment. It occurred to me that I have friends who already have background checks. For example, Cutie's Aunt and Uncle who were in my training class. (Cutie was in foster care in another jurisdiction, Aunt and Uncle needed to be licensed in order to adopt her.) And one of my co-workers who works with children in her job. So I checked with both of them and asked if they would be interested/willing to be back-ups. They both said yes, so I emailed Licensing Worker:
Instead of the two people I originally listed as back-up child care providers, I am going to be using:
1. Cutie's Aunt (phone number) -- has [Agency] background check
2. Social Worker Coworker (phone number) -- has [School System] background check
Licensing Worker responded asking me:
When you say that Cutie's Aunt has a [Agency] background check, do you mean a Child Protection Clearance and FBI and Police clearances?
Now, keep in mind that Licensing Worker was one of the trainers. And Cutie's Aunt was in my class. So Licensing Worker should know Cutie's Aunt, even though the other trainer did Aunt and Uncle's home study. So that's WTF? moment number one.
Then, Licensing Worker asked me to get a copy of Cutie's Aunt's background check. It is undoubtedly in a file somewhere in a cubicle near Licensing Worker's. Thankfully, after I reminded Licensing Worker of this fact and suggested that she check with our other trainer, she said she would get it herself.
However, in the meantime, Social Worker Coworker doesn't know where to get a copy of her background check because it is kept in the bowels of another bureaucratic mess, so I've gone to yet another coworker; this one who has a background check to do a weekend respite program. He has sent an email to his contact to get a copy of it for me.
I hope that Licensing Worker isn't waiting for the background checks to be completed before writing her report, but I am hesitant to contact her to check, as I have no desire to antagonize her. She probably IS waiting since that's how things are going. And I definitely am not going to ask if she's followed up with her supervisor about the windows.
So that's where I am. Your children will have all grown before I am licensed. Apparently.