When I was in undergrad, there was a lot of emphasis on the amount of paperwork social workers had to do and how little time they had to do it. I realized how true this was in my first internship, when myself and the other social work students were asked to do filing for the supervisors. It was a little like waving through a sea of paper and trying to make sense of it all. The internship was torture, but it made me decide that no matter how busy I got as a social worker, I would never ever get behind on my paperwork.
Oh, how young and naive I once was.
There are days where I feel like I have to choose between the importance of the kid on the phone crying and the report that needs to get to court before the end of the day. Other times, I have five home visits that need to get done and files that have not been touched. There are deadlines for my paperwork and there are more important deadlines for making sure that children are safe and in the best place, bio parents are getting the services they need, and caregivers are also getting needed services. Frankly, it’s pretty easy to know which of these is more important.
I am proud to say that I’ve been meeting all timelines. As of now, I have not yet had a late report and I have gotten things into court on time once I realized what on time was (with the exception of the report that needed to get sent on a day that I was in court all day without my laptop…). I have made the monthly home visits for all of my children and the unannounced visits every quarter. I’ve also been managing at being the type of caseworker I wanted to be and called on their birthdays and met with them sometimes extra. I have consistently made contact with bio parents and caregivers. My Myers-Briggs J has been helping a lot with my job.
But there is one area that I have a hard time with: filing. I don’t know what it is, but putting papers in files makes me want to bang my head against my desk. I try to set aside a day a week to do it, but that rarely happens. Today was my filing day and I ended up giving up part way through and making phone calls.
I got into social work for the social side of it. I can handle reports because I’m writing, which I love, and I’m writing about my clients, which to me relates to social work. However, when it comes to actually getting things into the files, it’s mindless and only exists to keep things in order. I have a system for what happens with papers before they’re officially filed, and it’s fine for me, but it’s apparently important to keep my files updated.
Anyone else a social worker out there? How do you handle the paperwork part of the job?