Sunday, November 28, 2010

The CPS Call

One of the many professions teachers work with regularly is social work. Unfortunately as teachers we are one of the groups that students often reach out to when they are most in need.

I have thankfully only had to call once. A student came in with scratch marks on her face and neck. She met me in the hallway and told me she'd been in a fight with her mother and pointed to the scratches. I knew what I had to do. It was my first year teaching and I was terrified. What if the social worker didn't take me seriously? What if it wasn't really confidential? What if this woman came after me, too? Still, I had to put my fears aside and stand up for this young girl.

Since I was nervous, I asked one of the counselors if I could call on speaker phone in her office. She had a form to fill out. The form was really useful. The counselor said sometimes people get so nervous when they call that they forget details. By filling out the form, you can read the form as the social worker asks you a series of questions and remember to include everything.

When I called, the social worker was probably the nicest guy I've ever talked to. I told him right away that I was a first year teacher and I was very nervous. He said it was okay and it happens all the time. He asked his questions and I answered as honestly as I could. At the end I apologized if I wasted his time, I just wasn't sure. He told me it was always better to err on calling. He said he'd rather investigate a dozen unnecessary cases than have a dozen needed cases go unreported. He gave me a reference number, which I wrote on the form. We then made copies of the form. One went with me, one to the girl's assistant principal, one in her file and another stayed in the guidance office.

Overall, the call was not as bad as I feared. The girl was removed from her home. Later that year, she switched schools and I never found out what happened to her. I hope that she was able to find a more stable, less violent home. That's the problem with being a teacher, you don't always know the end of the story.

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