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Overworked? Irritable?

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To the editors:

I read with interest the article on emergency foster homes [April 28] and feel the need for a few comments based on my own experiences. The National Association of Social Workers has stated that the caseload size should be 27 per worker. The State says it should be 40 and the Reader article concedes it is actually about 65. Mine is over 90 and has been for almost a year. I am in court an average of 10-12 times a month. A "day in court" is literally that. You may be out in an hour or can be there all day. It irritates me that Ms. Novack has the gall to define a "good" worker as one who can call her to chat. If there is a problem I want to know about it, but otherwise feel I can assume the baby is in good hands. After all, that is what she is getting paid to do (even if it's not much money). I am forced to put my attention to families that are very dysfunctional, and the decision to keep a child in the family may result in the life or death of that child.

These 30 day homes may extend a child's stay. I've had up to 6 month stays in these 30 day homes. In my experience this has occurred with "cute" or "good" babies. An irritable cocaine baby will quickly wear out its welcome and be bounced from one 30 day home to another for months before a long term home is found, so to say that it's the "best mothering they will ever get" is really stretching it a bit too far.

I'm sorry to ask you not to print my name, but I'm afraid if you do then the 30 day foster mothers may refuse my next child.

Name withheld

Chicago

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