(**ANONYMOUS FOR FEAR OF RETALIATION. I was not sure how else to provide this submission but hope it can somehow reach the community)
I have long wished to comment on the situation in our community surrounding Child Welfare Services, but have kept quiet for fear of retaliation. Now, however, I feel that I must say something, even anonymously, and I hope this message has the opportunity to reach my fellow community members.
While I am not a social worker, nor do I work directly in the legal process surrounding child welfare cases, I work in one of the many programs in the community that collaborate closely with the child welfare and the families they serve in Yolo County. Working with children and families is all I have done and all that I wish to do in my career, and that is why what I have seen is so profoundly heartbreaking.
In the years I have worked in serving the most vulnerable of our county’s families, I have had the honor and pleasure of working with the staff of Child Welfare Services. While they are far from a perfect institution, I have to say, sadly, that the agency only truly became the underperforming and unsafe entity that Supervisor Rexroad made it out to be after the Supervisor made these claims. I have seen the social workers with whom I have collaborated over the past years visibly age. I have seen them burn out. I have seen them leave. Talented and caring social services professionals have felt as though their hands were so tied in the atmosphere that Supervisor Rexroad has created. For the time I have known any of them in a professional capacity, they have worked to improve their rapport with families struggling with their demons, be they addiction, mental illness, domestic violence, poverty, or anything else. Now, their ability to be a team with clients and to meet them where they’re at in their processes of growth and recovery is all but annihilated in a series of actions that is completely devoid of consideration for the implications of mental health and generational trauma. As recently as two years ago, those I had the privilege of working with in the agency had a sense of hope and faith in the limitless potential of their clients to do better and to be better. Now, they have been thrown into circumstances where believing could cost them their jobs.
Supervisor Rexroad’s actions are nothing short of vertical violence, and our children – especially those in the child welfare system – may very well be worse off for it. The social workers who once had greater amounts of time to collaborate with partners like myself are now stressed, overworked, and bogged down by new policies in an agency that has been shaken up and torn down to the point of losing sight of what their real goals should be.
One of the most important traits to possess when working with and for children is a sense of joy in what we do. Since Supervisor Rexroad’s decision to intervene, I have seen the joy leave the eyes of the child welfare staff with whom I interact. The expression I see in their eyes, instead, is something akin to a child being bullied on the playground, and as a member of this community, I feel that I must speak out for the staff of Child Welfare just as I would speak out for that child.
I ask, finally, that the staff in Child Welfare Services stay strong and try to again find the joy in the work you do, as it has been and will continue to be some of the most important work in our community.