For the past few days, I've been sick mostly at home with some sort of sinus infection, accompanied by a stubborn fever that won't seem to leave. Last night it kept me up until nearly 5am.. my body was hot and cold at the same time, and my head throbbed. Finally I got up and had a snack consisting of the closest, easiest thing I could grab: four slices of bread and butter with water. Half-awake, I tried to watch an episode of 'Flight of the Conchords', a short-lived TV series that enough people recommended to me to get my attention! and that it most certainly did. finally, my fever seemed to cool down a little and eventually I drifted off to sleep. I have enough nightmares as it is, but let me tell you, fever dreams are much worse! Think Tom Cruise on the loose, trying to take over the world, and my family specifically, with his Scientology cloning and aliens and general mayhem. that has GOT to stop!
I've been getting really antsy being trapped in this quiet apartment for a few days and basically just laying around since I've been not feeling well. Thankfully, I had to go meet my old supervisor this afternoon a few blocks away, which gave me an excuse to get dressed and get out for a bit. On my way back, I decided to see if a slurpee might help cool down my slight fever I had going on. While walking by LOVE park on the way back to my dorm, I saw that a small, but passionate protest was going on in front of one of the city govt. buildings where DHS (dept. of human services) is housed.
For those of you not in the philly area, I'll update you. A news story broke about a week ago regarding a 14 year old disabled girl, Danieal (pronounced Danielle) Kelly [pictured above], who starved to death in her home during an August 2006 heat wave. Under the care of both her parents and DHS, she was still neglected (why doesn't really matter in my opinion) and died. Nine people were charged following her death, including her parents, friends of the mother, and 2 DHS social workers.
I'm unsure of whether this story made national headlines (I doubt it), but DHS is an agency that at times I interface with since I also work in the mental health field as an MFT intern... so I decided to stop and listen for awhile. Various people took turns speaking into the megaphone thing, and about 10 camera crew people filmed and snapped pictures. Others took notes. They called for justice and reform and change. They pleaded with the public to not sit by any longer, but to use their voices in protest. One lady read a wonderful poem illustrating this point.
A little while later while walking home, I thought of the words of the Mayor from a meeting he held a few days ago. Addressing Danieal Kelly directly he said: "As a city government, we have failed you." He's right, and its utterly tragic.
As for the where's, why's, who's, how's etc, I don't know how this case slipped through the cracks or how anyone could be so careless. But I do know that this is not how it's supposed to be. This is nothing remotely close to the treatment people should receive from social services or in the mental health field. We are all to be held to a much higher standard than this. I personally want to voice my disgust over this whole situation...it still makes me shudder just thinking about it.
I know that I didn't know this little girl personally, but I see kids like her, who are neglected or mistreated, frequently in my line of work, and feel all the more compelled to NOT fail them or let them down. If we as professionals cannot get them what they need, then we need to get them to someone who can. I feel this applies to the larger community as well...neighbors, friends, relatives, everyone, and anyone.
So as I rest here in my apartment wishing my fever would go away and my head would stop aching, the temporary discomfort I feel seems to go a little bit numb while I think about these things. People deserve the best possible care because each one, each child especially, is precious and honored in His sight. Each one is worthy of our promise to stand by them in sickness and in health. If we can't do this for our spouses (and this is not to let anyone off the hook there either!), let's at least do it for the kids.