Department of Human Services NIGHTMARES,
English Speaking; the new minority
I'm sure I will piss off more than a few people with this article but fortunately for me they will have trouble reading it! I will not apologize for my sarcasm as you will see I have good reason.
If you have been following my previous post you will have learned that I have an 18 year old daughter and her 2 year old son living with me. You also know my daughter became pregnant while on birth control. She was not looking to impress her peers or trying to avoid having to get a job. She also never imagined herself being a statistic.
My daughter was a professional cheerleader, attended high school and had a long term boyfriend. She worked at a dinner full time in the summers to help support her cheerleading tuition at the age of 15. She had her baby at 17 and continued to hold down a job for the year and a half. She's not a slacker.
However, we are now a statistic, catapulted into a system that has been foreign to us since it's creation. " The Welfare system. " Unfortunately, we have no idea how to navigate the system. My parents received food stamps when I was 5 years old. My father was in the Military and my mother worked in a factory. They had three children at the time and needed help with groceries. I remember stories of how my parents would feed us kids first and they would eat what was left over. My mother said the easiest way to stretch a meal was to buy hamburger. Looking back, I don't ever remember having steak or any other kind of red meat during that time. My mother's family also helped out with caring for us kids while our parents worked and brought over prepared meals to help my parents. I remember my mom being embarrassed to pull out that little booklet and count out the coupons that resembled monopoly money. I would hear my father and mother talking about the hard times they were going through would only be temporary. My mother promised my father she would have them off of assistance in 6 months. She kept her promise.
Back then ( 1960's), families were proud, proud to provide for themselves, proud of their jobs, their homes and their automobiles, just to name a few. I myself have been proud that even through a divorce, single parenting and illnesses, that I have never borrowed a dime from anyone. Until now.
I no longer receive child support, the economy has hit my business hard and my daughter has recently lost her job. We need help. However, the programs and systems in place have made the task of applying for assistance incredibly difficult for me. I say that because I speak English, plain and simple. The DHS workers must get very confused when they hear me speak, they nod their heads and smile, in broken English they inform me or should I say miss inform me of the application process. They ask me several questions and ask for proof with documents. Their brows furrow in confusion as if perplexed at why I am there. Early on in our quest for medical services the workers were so confused they had listed me as my grandsons mother. They canceled my daughters daycare due to her not seeking child support from her sons father. When in fact we had a court date already scheduled to do just that. When I went to the office to explain to them with all my documents of proof that I was in fact the grandmother, they informed me they had entered the information correctly and it would be rectified on our court date. Needless to say it wasn't. The lawyer and judges were perplexed, they stamped my forms and sent back to DHS. I drove across the state to the office I was required to go to, only to be sent back across the state to another office were they handle the systems confusions. By this time I had missed a good part of my day at work, was hungry,tired and extremely frustrated. I was instructed to take a seat and wait. When I was finally called, yup, you guessed it, the woman I was to speak with spoke broken English. I looked around the room and realized I must be in a dream, a nightmare. The place I have lived in all my 46 years looked familiar, but it certainly didn't sound it. I explained my frustration as slowly as possible and with careful pronunciation. I brought the stamped documents from court and explained the judges instructions. The short woman with dark hair stared back at me with that confused look and turned to her phone and began speaking loudly and what seemed ferociously in a foreign language. As she smiled and nodded reassuringly at me I was hopeful all would be resolved. Wishful thinking! No, she was new, had no idea how to correct the problem, talk about feeling defeated. After several minutes of her trying to suggest a resolution and me straining my ears to pick out a few syllables that were recognizable, I finally stood up and requested an interpreter in my loudest ENGLISH language. It took 4 court dates and an Attorney to have my daughter listed as her son's mother.
Two weeks ago I visited the DHS office to inquire about food stamps, two weeks later, nothing! We were miss informed, again, but thats a story for another Hub.