Monday, January 16, 2012

2011: A Year In Review

This week has been a very interesting week. However, before I go into that, which I will on my next post, I would like to do my annual "year in review" of 2011. 2011 was, for once, a fairly uneventful year for me personally, so it may be a little shorter than other years I have done this.

From January until around the end of April, I finished up my second semester of my second year of graduate school. I interned at a local foster care agency. By the end of it, I had a caseload at least as big, if not bigger, than some of my colleagues who were there as employees. My caseload changed regularly, making it difficult to develop a relationship with the kids I was in charge of. Only one kid was on my caseload for the whole school year, a 7 year old with cerebral palsy, who she kept with me because of our connection. Two foster homes, which had previously been on  my caseload and then switched off, were put back on my caseload, after they basically hounded my supervisor until she agreed to do so. But, this happened right as I went on Spring Break, and by the time I returned, one of the foster kids (the primary one who wanted me back so bad) had turned 18 and signed himself out of the system.

In April, a nightmare began at my place of employment, a mental hospital for teen boys, whenever four kids escaped from the facility. They were found the next day. But, it brought to light the shoddy practices that were going on there (some which still are, just to a lesser extent and better covered up).  News articles about it, I posted on my facebook wall. I assumed I was okay, because I have my privacy settings very strict on my page, so that only my friends can see anything, and even then, I restrict some things from some friends.  But, as it turned out, one co-worker, who I thought I could trust (I'm also very selective in which co-workers I add, if they request me, and what I allow them to see) reported back to a supervisor, and I was threatened with my job. I called a lawyer, who basically said it would depend on the facility's social media policy (they did not have one at that time) , and maybe it would be easier to just remove the posts. I did not do so. Doing so, to me, would have been like saying I was okay with what was happening and like silencing my voice. I refuse to ever do that. I may do things "under the radar" in order to counteract the corruption while still keeping my job while I have to be there, but I don't give in. In any case, it became a moot point, because so many disgruntled ex employees came out of the woodwork to file reports to the police (and to the media), that I would have simply joined the masses.

The summer was generally uneventful. In May, during a weekend trip to the beach with a friend, I secured my second internship, an outpatient group therapy program on the psychiatric unit of the local major regional hospital. I had Saturday classes. My family came to visit for a week.

The Fall 2011 semester was difficult. I was put in charge of coordinating and collecting many resources for the group therapy program. It was exciting and liberating to actually have my ideas acknowledged and even used. It gave me hope that I can still meaningfully contribute, which I haven't felt in years.

For October and November, I barely worked. My work time is limited as it is because of my school commitments. But for those months, most of the days I was available to work, they didn't put me on the schedule. On the days I was scheduled, I was often called off for "overstaffing" - interpreted: "We actually have enough staff on schedule to manage any and all situations, but that costs too much money, so we're going to operate on the bare minimum and hope to God nothing happens."  I think I worked maybe 2 days the whole month of November.

I did work more in December, thanks to the school semester ending. I made all A's last semester. Christmas break went generally well, as detailed in my Christmas post. The day before I left North Carolina, I was checking the newspaper's website for my current home. Once again, my workplace was in the news. One of the psychiatrists for the facility, who treats sex offenders no less, was arrested for hiring prostitutes. Incidentally, the case was dismissed because the arresting officer was also arrested for unrelated sketchy illegal activities. Just love South Carolina!

New Year's Eve I worked day shift , before going to Olive Garden with a friend, and then we came to my house and watched movies and the Dick Clark New Year's countdown. And so was 2011.

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