Hard times, these

It’s really not until the bad economic times hit home that you really get a taste of how much it just totally sucks.  I’ve been lucky in that I have a job, a partner with a job, a reasonable mortgage, and no credit card debt (thanks Dad!), and although, as a state employee, I certainly haven’t escaped  completely what a bad budget does, I think I got a little complacent.

My employment isn’t at risk, but my job itself  was on less than solid ground these past 8 hours. As much as my job vexes me, not being in Family Treatment Court would be worse. Even though my job is “harder” than regular dependency cases, I shudder at the thought of moving to the regular cases. You’ve got less support, more clients, unpredictable attorneys, and a mess of court dates. In FTC, I work withthe same attorneys, the same judge, on the same day. I have fewer clients, so I get to see them more and do better work. Most importantly, I have a lot of success stories. So, when at 8 am this morning, my boss announced that one of the four us had to switch to regular dependency work immediately, per the up-aboves, was disconcerting, to say the least. All my co-workers are great social workers who bring a variety  of strengths to the table and I hate to see any of them go. At the same time, I don’t want to be the one of the chopping block, so to speak. Ultimately it wasn’t me, but that still doesn’t make for an entirely happy ending.

The frustrating thing is that we were given authority to hire a 4th worker this August. Just over six months later, we have to let one go because of the budget woes and our somewhat low case counts (which is to do more with recruitment and issues on that end than anything else – totally out of our control, really). This has happened all over the place – hiring like crazy, funding services, and then abruptly cutting them out because we get the budget numbers. Has ANYONE in the upper eschelons of our agency EVER thought of planning ahead? This feast or famine bullshit happens all the time. You’d think people would learn. Or maybe they suppose that by the next round of layoffs, the entire staff will have mostly turned over anyway, so the newbies won’t see it coming.

I know it could have been worse, for sure. But I care about my kids, my parents, my work, and to be in the position to abruptly lose it, in the space of 8 hours, was pretty tough. So I’m lucky. I’ve got my job. But my confidence is a little shaken.


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