Consistency in parenting is so very important and also incredibly hard. There are easy (yet meaningful) parts, like showing up for your kids. Being home every day after school or after work, or kissing them when they go to bed at night and when they wake up in the morning. The harder part of being consistent is avoiding those empty promises we’ve all made as parents. “If you guys don’t stop dumping sugar packets in your water we are going home!” “If you don’t stop screaming in the back seat I am going to drop you on the side of the road!” I would like to meet the parent who has never made a threat out of frustration with no intention of following through (accept for the second example, you should never actually do that). But when can we do these things well (I’ll just say more often than not), our kids can develop a sense of security and begin to understand how to be successful within the parameters and structures of their lives.

Consistency also plays an essential role in delivering effective services to youth in foster care. These kids need experienced, educated and dedicated providers who can stay with them for as long as they need the support and service. At PWI, we show up for our kids. We listen, advocate, validate and confront them when necessary. I have an amazing staff and I am confident that they are showing up working to establish positive, consistent relationships with their kids and families. I want my staff to love their jobs and to never feel like they want or need to look for something better. I wish I could compensate them so well that they never need to look for another job because of finances. But I can’t. Yet. And if your job doesn’t pay your bills, you have to find one that does. So, the challenge is not so much in delivering excellent, consistent services to our kids. Instead it lies in my ability provide enough compensation to my staff so that they can feel secure that their job is supporting their needs.

Social workers do extremely important and difficult work. People tend not to dispute this. They also tend to agree that the compensation for this work is ridiculously low. The conversation is usually something like this, “I don’t know how you what you do. You are a saint. You should make way more money than you do.” I understand people say these things in support of social work, but here is how I would like to respond. We know how to do what we do because we have years of both education and experience. We are not saints. Well at least I’m not. Some of us may be but I suppose that could be true of any profession. We are professionals who are committed to our clients and feel an obligation to do the very best we can for them. We would REALLY like to make more money. It would be great to earn enough to not have to either have more than one job, or to limit our options of employment to only the larger bureaucracies that can offer the most competitive compensation packages. Meaningful, important work needs to be done in all parts of our community and good social workers need to be gainfully employed in all corners of the social service arena. In this field, when people like their job and make enough money at it they don’t tend to leave. And our kids need us to stay put. They need a consistent and trustworthy person to help them begin to believe that there are people who care and who will stick around. Social workers deserve to have security and stability in their jobs so that they can focus on establishing that security and stability for their clients. It’s ethically and fiscally the right thing to do and I intend to figure out a way to make it happen.

Trust is built with consitency