It is where the tail-end of the Bible belt dangles north above the Mason-Dixon into Amish country. Not that the Amish have anything to do with it–this is fundamentalist Christian territory (that toxic Gnosticism that eschews the body for the spirit). A county that went GOP for many decades before the Reagan revolution, and dallied with Wallace at one point. A place that went for Trump and is not ashamed. Its residents are traditional marriage, pro-life folks who bought the Republican schtick about “family values” and never looked back.
It is the county in which she–my daughter–works in child protective services. A county service that reveals everything for what it truly is.
She texted today:
“Today was the agency-wide retreat. Very concerning messages…”
I ask: “Concerning messages?”
And it pours forth…
There is no state budget yet. New laws mean more investigations more kids in care. But we get no budget increases. So exec director needs us to use FEWER services for clients. Less money for everything, but by the way, expect caseloads to keep rising. Fewer referrals for evals. No more helping with rent and daycare. No more paying for therapy or counseling. Cut back on drug screens. Etc etc.
Also, bad news all of our judges are retiring in December. Two of our new judges are known to be very anti-child services so expect more battles in court, direct calls on petitions from judges, etc… Do more work with fewer supports and resources with less accommodating judges. We didn’t get approved for any case aides, any extra visitation worker contracts, nothing. But yet we are expected to offer more visitation. It’s unreasonable. I’m discouraged. I have a case that just fell apart this week. Mom has nuero damage from domestic violence. Sorry, can’t refer her for any further services. Meanwhile, I have another mom in prison for contact with her husband she had a no-contact order with. Domestic violence victim. Glad we are paying for her to be in prison. Really helpful. I have a mom who told me she’s going to go take her kid (baby) back by force. Exec director today offers this advice to us: if you’re feeling like you’re in a dangerous situation, um, call 911…
Call 911? That’s all you got?
Let us pause. This young woman tells me that this is her calling, that she loves her job. She has a degree from a very good school. Award winner. Smart. Yes, I am proud of her.
So we are left with this. She visits a father in jail who pimped his children (if I told you the ages you would not believe it). She goes to a trailer without heat or running water and finds meth addicts “raising” children. She calls the cops because the teenage kid in her car at 9:30 pm threatens her (this at an hour when my daughter should be home with her three little ones).
No one wants to pay. They are pro-life (yes, I am going to say “They” here–that undifferentiated mass of souls who vote, and complain about taxes, and go to church, and pray to their middle-class god). THEY believe in the sanctity of life as long it is a hypothetical thing without a name. Once it is born then it is all about bad people and, “the parents need to be responsible,” and “they are all welfare cheats,” and…
Meanwhile, they seem to forget that those parents were children once. Children they fought to bring into this world. Children that they abandoned once they were here. And the cycle of trauma perpetuates itself and this year’s pimped kids become tomorrow’s pimps. Today’s beaten and abused children become tomorrow’s beaters and abusers.
And they stand wringing their hands about how awful it is that people turn out this way, and they refuse to see a line, a straight line, a painfully traced line between their meanness and the abandon that lurks at the door. I am tired of this shit–and not just because of my daughter. They care about “first life”–the life they claim exists before life begins. But they care not a whit about life at all.
My daughter stands in the breach between the uncaring proto-lifers and the children whose lives drain away into the fertile farmland of the piedmont. She is my hero. She is a lonely pro-lifer fighting in the outlands of death.