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Social Workers, IUE Local 381/Department of Social Services

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We shuffle papers.
That’s what I do most of the time.
Right now my total caseload is 190 families.
I’m their welfare examiner.
Not only do they come in
And I see if they’re eligible for assistance,
But I’ve got to go through these names —
Any changes in their circumstances:
If they have a baby,
If they move,
If somebody else moves in,
If they go to school.

It’s not just a basic answer whether you’re eligible —
We’re a clearing house for a lot of information
That they wouldn’t know about.
Really, we are the touch that people have with the system:
We are the system.
And they look to us for a lot of guidance
And a lot of questions and a lot of referrals
Into other parts of the community.
Our job has changed so much.
I’m finding that almost every one of my clients,
By the time they’re sitting across the desk from me
Are in crisis.
My job description doesn’t say I play God.

I’ve got all these piles of records and forms.
What’s difficult is there’s three separate programs.
Two are federal programs,
One is a combination of federal and state money.
Each one has different rules.
So they kind of overlap but at the same time
A person can be getting unemployment and food stamps
and Medicaid and not cash assistance.
Trying to keep up with the regulations.
So I do a lot of paperwork.

This is what I do.
I sit at my desk and I interview clients.
I will need to start out with identification.
I’ll need a birth certificate, Social Security card,
Marriage license,
How many children you have and
You’re presently living at the address
That’s on your application
And you’re presently working at the place
That’s on your application.
The client fills out the application,
Then the interviewer fills out an interview form.
Some of it feels rewarding.
You get a feeling that you’re helping out some people
That really need help.