|Pop Culture Gadabout|
Tuesday, February 17, 2009 |
( 2/17/2009 02:00:00 PM ) Bill S.
THE DROPPING SHOE: Well, after reading the papers about Arizona's financial crisis, hearing from the grapevine how the Republican-controlled state government was planning to gut social services to help balance the budget jumping the gun ahead of the stimulus package) and fretting for weeks, the inevitable happened. This morning the private child and family agency that has employed me as an In-Home Therapist for the past year-and-some-change announced the first of its lay-offs. Yours truly was a part of the cut, so I have until the end of the month as an employee of Child and Family Resources.
I'm still reeling from the news, though, it wasn't entirely unexpected. Safford, Arizona, after several years of Boom Towning, has been feeling the Recession big time. The area copper mines, the largest source for jobs in the three counties I travel through, have been steadily cutting back their workforce since the fall. When Democratic state governor Janet Napolitano departed her job for a cabinet post in the Obama Administration, the state's biggest bulwark against excessive social service cuts left her state in the hands of a fiscally ultra-conservative Republican. As a result, the state's budget slashes for the Department of Economic Security (which includes Child Protective Services) were particularly brutal.
I'm biased, of course. I've worked for private non-for-profits in the child and family field for over thirty years, and I believe that the work mental and behavioral health professionals can do for families is vital. At its best, it's an investment in the state's citizens: helping to keep families together, providing support for people during particularly stressful times, helping to keep kids out of foster care and adults out of corrections. You'd think a time like this would be one where thoughtful legislators would go, "Maybe that laid-off parent needs someone to talk to so s/he doesn't take refuge in beating their spouse or kids." Nope, not in Red State Arizona, at least.
I've spent a lot of hours on the road this past year visiting families in their homes: working as a counselor with parents and kids, providing a sympathetic ear when it was needed or advice and direction when it would be taken. There are days when I've driven home from visits, feeling like I'd really been helpful, and days when I've felt like I spent my day talking to the stucco. I'm definitely gonna miss the job. I still believe in the work, but I can't help wondering whether there's even a place for it in Post-Bush America. . .