Friday, January 11, 2013

Misinformation, entitlement and unnecessary stress

While social work school was several years back, I still remember having drilled into my head the importance of A.) referring out a client to appropriate providers when their needs exceed what I can provide and B.) never telling a client something unless I am absolutely sure the information is accurate.

Especially when it comes to the systems of which we work, information can be complicated for someone with even a Master's degree and experience in social work to understand. As a result, there's often a great deal of "mis" information out there about services and supports a client may or may not be entitled to.

I was actually on the receiving end of this kind of example yesterday, and I quickly became "that mother" on the telephone as a result.

You see, on Wednesday night, I received a mailing that it was time to register my son for kindergarten next year, as the school district noted he is in their Pre-K program.

This is inaccurate. My son is not in Pre-K. We do however want him to be in Pre-K next year.

The only affiliation he has with the district at this point, is that he is receiving services through their CPSE program because of his special needs.

Yesterday morning, I called the student services department and the woman I spoke to kept saying to me "he is in Pre-K. He's on our record". I kept having to re-direct her, that no, he is not in Pre-K. But he IS receiving services through CPSE. I also indicated that I did not think he was ready for Kindergarten just yet, and I was pretty sure he wouldn't make the deadline anyway, since his 5th birthday is after 12/1.

After going over this about 4 more times, her response was "Oh, well than CPSE needs to meet to let you know if your son is entitled to Pre-K again next year.

My blood pressure was starting to escalate, and I asked her to transfer me to the CPSE department.

I've probably talked about her before, but the woman who answers the phone for the CPSE department was probably there when I was in elementary school. And I'm in my 30's now.

Right away she started on the same schtick, with the entitlement piece and the CPSE committee needing to come together about my son. With her crass response, you'd think I was asking her to split her weekly paycheck with me because that is where the money would need to come from to send my child to Pre-K "again".

At that point, I asked to speak with the woman who is in charge of the CPSE department and Assistant Granny sarcastically responded by saying "Dr. W is in meetings all day. I will take down your number and see if she can call you back. But remember you need to have a meeting to decide if your child is entitled to Pre-K".

Now enter my ranting about administrative departments of childhood educational institutions with friends and family for the next hour. Disclaimer: Teachers I love. Teachers this is not directed at you ;).

In any event, Dr. W did end up calling me back not too long after.

And she told me that both women were wrong in the way they presented information to me.

She indicated that as I thought, DS did not make the cut-off date for Kindergarten anyway.

She also stated that Pre-K and CPSE had nothing to do with each other (although I think in some peoples' minds, they do since both cost their own money for services).

She added that Pre-K registration is not until April, either, and the packets have not even gone out yet.

Lastly, she said she had been reviewing my son's file that week since he recently completed an OT eval, and shortly, she would be scheduling a CPSE meeting to discuss the results.

She ended the call by saying that if we had any problems getting DS enrolled for Pre-K to call her up again personally.

I guess where I am going with this, is that dealing with issues like this can be stressful for parents. And upsetting for the client on the other end of the phone who is facing some kind of problem they are seeking support for.

It is not helpful when people respond with inaccurate information. Or reflect their own feelings about who should and shouldn't be receiving something.

I know what it's like dealing with annoying people who have a strong sense of entitlement. I am aware there are days where they all blend into one super-sized pain in the you-know-what. But there's also a time and a place where our thoughts need to stay inside our heads (or inside our computer blog).

Life would be a lot easier, if instead of trying to fudge an answer (or give a response that may be accurate in a different scenario), we just told the person that We (or XYZ person) would get back to them shortly with an answer to their question.

Still not always the answer we want to hear, but certainly better than getting the wrong one, or the wrong one mixed in with our own jaded feelings about clients.

On that note.......



  1. Wow, I don't know how you kept it together through that. It drives me crazy when people do things like that, rather than just say, "whoops, I think we made a mistake, let's fix it" and not try to insist how correct they are. (That was wonderful that the director got back to you and set everything correct. I went through something like that with our insurance and the kids and it was a nightmare, no one would ever get back to me and I'd have to keep calling to every get any answers.) I hope that it all works out for you, it seem like it's just been non stop for you!

    I do want to say thank you so much for your lovely comments, it's always so uplifting to read them and I always want to try to incorporate more Alaska stuff for you. You are such a sweet, kind person, it's really been so lovely to get to know you and I cant believe how gracious you have been with everything that has been going on in your life lately. Thank you, I am just so immensely flattered that you read my blog. You're wonderful! ;)

  2. :) Awww thanks for the nice comment.

  3. I feel your pain. I often find that the people giving the misinformation are the people who control access to those who could provide accurate information. Since I'm going on this rant, I've got a few more;-) Isn't it great when each person you talk to tells you something completely different? Or when someone gives you information you KNOW is incorrect but insists they know what they are talking about?