Guest post by DCF Director of Digital Media and Outreach Niki Pocock. This blog series will follow her first trip to DCF’s Child Protection Summit.
How do you talk to a person so sick he just raped his daughter? How do you keep your cool, staying calm, when you really want to strangle him? Our child protection investigators are in situations like that all the time. It makes my heart hurt to just think about that scenario. I know I am not strong enough to face that.
Today at Summit I had the honor of speaking to Mechill, a CPI in Panama City, about her experiences in the field. I still don’t know how she does it. Dealing with these horrific situations all the time. But she says she does it because she may be the only person a child will talk to – their only hope to get help. She also might be the only person a perpetrator will admit crimes to – for some reason they think telling a CPI they hit their wife won’t get back to the police (spoiler alert … the police still get the info).
She told me her supervisors help her get through. It is ok for her to cry at work. If she comes across a really hard case, her bosses stop everything to lend an ear – or a shoulder. They are available to her 24 hours a day because they have been there. They know how hard it is to look evil in the eye.
And then I saw the other side:
I met Rob and Chris who are a part of the Children’s Network of Southwest Florida and the Southwest Florida Foster/Adoptive Parent Association. They have three biological children, two adopted children and one foster child. But to them, they are just a family. The kids are their kids. They aren’t foster kids or biological kids. If they are in their house, they are their children.
When they brought home their 4-month-old, a child in foster care, their 3-year-old adopted daughter said, “I have a new sister!” And her 16-year-old biological son would like to continue helping others – he plans to be a foster parent himself someday.
And I saw the bridge:
I met Jonathan from our Northwest Region, who works with foster parents so their homes can be approved for children. He told me how much he absolutely loves his job. He said he meets a lot of people who want to help their community, but they don’t know how to get started. He told me of the foster parents who cry tears of joy when he calls to tell them they are officially approved to foster children. He loves seeing community members merge into the child welfare role.
Stay tuned – more coming tomorrow!
If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, please visit www.fosteringflorida.com.