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Letters To Turtleboy: DCF Worker Explains How Overworked They Are

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Every once in a while we get an email that isn’t challenging us to a fight at Whitco. We got one the other day after we did our blog calling out DCF for failing that poor 7 year old comatose boy from Hardwick. It was pretty interesting so we told them we’d print it. Here ya go…

Hello Turtle Boy,

Joe Social Worker here, writing a letter on behalf of all of the Social Workers from the Department of Children and Families in Massachusetts who you speak so negatively of in your last few articles on the devastating Hardwick case. 

I would like to start by staying that many of the things that you have said about DCF are absolutely correct. As a Social Worker, I can say with the clearest of consciences that the various forms of torture we would like to evoke on this piece of shit excuse for this man and the people like him, is an everyday conversation in my DCF office amongst social workers. 

Please know that we all believe that this man is an absolute monster, and just like Elsa Oliver and Erika Murry, and there is a special place in hell where these 3 and people like them will pay for what they did to these children. 

These monsters are also every social workers worst fear. 

I have 62 children on my caseload that I am responsible for seeing at least once per month for one hour every month. I am paid to assess these kids on an impossible number of scales. 

That means that I am supposed to spend 62 hours of my 120 hour work month making sure every single one of these kiddos are okay. Not to mention the amount of time it takes to drive to these home visits to see the kids, sometimes up to 50+ miles to the town across the county that my area office covers. 


Not to mention the endless reports we have to write, and read, and records we have to keep, and referrals we have to make, and the ungodly amount of training hours the Department requires us to take every year. 

Not to mention the countless hours spent in court, in meetings, in traffic, in my cubicle typing every detail of the visit into the report because God forbid I forget to mention something important and this kid winds up hurt. Or in a coma. Or kidnapped. Or dead. Or worse, on the side of the road in a suitcase. 

And 9 times out of 10, I know they’re probably not okay, but they won’t tell me what’s wrong. Because they’re too scared, or too little to talk, or too brainwashed by their parents. Or because sometimes they do tell me and the Department doesn’t feel there is enough evidence to remove them from their homes. 

15 of these children are in the custody of the state right now and I am responsible for making every decision about their lives, from which immunization they recover to who is allowed to babysit them, to whether or not they should be adopted or go home to their biological families. 

These 62 kids make up over 23 families on my caseload who I am responsible for monitoring. The legal number of cases every social worker is allowed to accumulate is 15 cases in this state. 

And I have worked at the Department for less than a year. And it’s not like I know what the fuck I am doing more than half the time because DCF’s Social Worker Training is a fucking joke. 

I’m talking like, I didn’t even know how to change a diaper when I started working at DCF.

And most Social Workers (SPOILER ALERT!) have no fucking idea how to install a car seat when they first start at the job. 

In fact, I’ve actually learned a lot of these things from the families I work with. Some of my best parenting skills were taught to me by the few truly good parents on my caseload. 

Because the truth is that not all of our families are bad. People go through awful shit and if they’re invoked with DCF, usually they just didn’t have the coping skills or support network to get themselves through it. 

It’s important to mention that. Because just because you have a Joe Social Worker coming to your house every every month, doesn’t mean you aren’t trying your absolute best at this whole parenting thing. Which, might I add, is easily the hardest job in the world. 

But as horrific as these truths are, the key phrase in my rant about how overworked that Joe Social Worker and anyone else with a DCF job are, is: THIS IS OUR JOB.

We signed up for it. And get paid to feel these stresses every day. And paid well, I should add. Social workers with a bachelors degree are amongst the highest paid employees in the psychology and human services field. 

And as much as we complain, most of us love being social workers. But it’s not easy. 

I walk into the office every morning with over 10, up to 40 voicemails on my office phone. In addition, I have (give or take) anywhere from 10-20 emails to respond to about my cases. 

I go into every single work day with the best of intentions to help keep kids safe, whatever it takes. By about noon, I’m just trying to make it through the day without crying, or smacking one of my idiot parents upside the fucking empty skull to knock some God damn sense or empathy or even a fucking clue, into it. 

And I walk into every home visit praying that by the time I leave, I am 100% confident that the kids in that house are gonna make it until next month, when I can be the drive-thru social worker again. But it never happens that way. 

Social workers in every office in this state, share the pit of our stomache feeling of leaving every single house wondering what more they could have done. 

I write you today because I think that it is important for you, and your loyal fans who religiously read your post, and everyone living in the state of Massachusetts who may be concerned in even the lightest way with child welfare, to understand that WE ARE TRYING. 


I just hope that our message is read by even one person and we are given at least an inkling of credit. Because we are trying our absolute hardest and tragedy is around every single corner. 

And because for every child who we failed, we have saved 100 more. 

But even one hurt child is unacceptable, and so our social workers are calling on the help of the Community. 

Our eyes cannot be everywhere, and my eyes can’t be fucking anywhere with 62 kids I am responsible for. So, we rely on the reports of our families collaterals, the nosy neighbor, school teachers, daycare providers, concerned citizens, to be these kids voices. 

So please try to forgive us. And please help us be better. There’s a few ways you can help us. Write your senators asking for more funding for child welfare services.

Wear a fucking condom if you are sexually active and aren’t ready to parent a child in a safe and nurturing way, for fuck’s sake!!

Donate your old clothes, toys, books, furniture to your local DCF office for the kids who need it. 

And please, tell the children in your life that you love them. Use every teachable moment you have with the kids in your life to teach them right from wrong, how to love, how to respect. Because the kids are the only innocent people this planet has, and treating them as anything other than that is jus setting Joe Social Worker up for another generation of broken people, who break their children because they don’t know any better. So help us break the cycle.

We are so, so sorry,

Joe Social Worker


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33 Comment(s)
  • Mark
    November 19, 2015 at 1:12 am

    Reading your comments social workers. .you people are a freaked joke and liars. Yes you may not personal make extra money but you make money for your dcf funding, no children in the system, no federal grants. I’ve seen the damage personally what you case managers have done to innocent families.power trips. Perjury, false reports, ect. An agency run amuck, with children and families the real abused victims, May you all for in hell

  • Jude H
    September 18, 2015 at 6:09 pm

    Here’s to you Joe Social Worker and all other Caring, Devoted, Hard Working, Frustrated, Stressed Out, Heart Broken, Discouraged, Over Whelmed Social Workers all over the world! I will be honest to say I was starting to think, “What is up with these people? How could they have not seen that, overlooked it!?” My heart is in Human Services, helping people, caring for people, wanting to make all things better for them, for All involved. Then I started reading here and there about what all of you are going through, what the situations are…..and I am totally disgusted by what I have learned. These babies, children need us but no one (You know who I am talking about) seems to want to do anything about IMPROVING All Issues, whether it be $$$$$$$$, more efficient & clean offices, phones, higher pays and better training (to fit “TODAY’S” needs/Issues/situations) to draw more employees to the field. Your words truly hit me and I can see and hear and feel your pain. I cried tonite hearing the news about Bella Bond and for the first time in awhile I stopped to think about what it must be like for people like you to be in this field today…………at the same time I think God is tugging at my heart that maybe it is time for me to get back in to it…….Hmmmmmmmmmmmm…………Thank you for sharing what you did and thank you for being someone who is truly trying to make a difference,,,,,,,Not all Social Workers are good Social Workers just like not all cops are good cops, not all Dr.’s are good Dr.’s……. you know what I am saying…….but I know there are some giving it every ounce of what they’ve got with what they’ve got to work with……..God Bless all of you……….I think some of the news we are hearing today is just so unbelievable “Lets place blame where ever we can” Pops in our minds too quickly……… Like how about how did those neighbors not know anything about poor little precious Bella??!! I think Many of us are to blame…..Keep doing what your doing for as long as you can and be sane……. I pray for peace & strength for you

  • Nanny
    July 29, 2015 at 10:39 am

    I don’t know how people can do the job of a DCF social worker. I know I don’t have the chops for such a hard job. My job seems silly in comparison.

    I’m very thankful that my wife and kids and I are in a stable, loving home that fosters curiosity and learning. My wife and I know it’s no longer about her and me. It’s all about the kids.

  • Josephine Social Worker
    July 29, 2015 at 6:41 am

    I just wanted to piggyback on what Joe said.

    I’ve been a social worker for almost 15 years and I’ve seen this cycle repeated over and over again. And the biggest problem I see is with politics and politicians. No one cares about our overburdened system until something terrible happens. The politicians are quick to point the finger, blame DCF for failing and then throw money at the problem. But the money, the decrease in caseloads, the increase in workers and the new equipment only lasts for 6-8 months after a tragedy. Once the media turns their heads again, we’re back to square one, like nothing ever happened. Except the media and politics scrutiny forces seasoned staff to get tired of watching this repeating cycle and they leave, or they get dismissed as some political sacrifice to gain favor with the media or to save money, more people are offered early retirement. Then we are left with holes in management, young inexperienced staff being trained by slightly less inexperienced staff and no funding, high caseloads and low worker numbers…again. Hell, it’s not uncommon to hear things like, we ran out of money for paper. And we didn’t have money to update 411 when we changed our name from DSS to DCF.

    And then there is the extreme foster parent shortage. Finger pointing doesn’t help children. Supporting those who want to help them does. So please write your local Congressman and demand more funding, more workers, lower caseloads. Please become a loving, safe and nurturing foster parent. Stop sitting at home saying it’s not my problem while pointing the finger at DCF workers from the safety of your computer at home. At least we’re trying. Even if it does mean going home in tears more days than going home feeling accomplished.

  • Jessie
    July 28, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    For the record, DCF workers are NOT true social workers, but case managers. Social work is not what these workers do. Most DCF “social workers” have no degree in social work. Until recently, you didn’t even need a degree in some sort of human services, like social work or psychology to be a DCF case manager. The system is broken, but ultimately, the fault lies with the parents. To many children are being born in unhealthy environments with parents who have no skills. DCF is there to meet a need, but not to ultimately solve the root issue, children not being protected by those who gave them life.

  • Just a mom with an enemy
    July 28, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    Unfortunately I live in the same town as the scumbage who did this to his son. It’s disgusting to me that people also abuse the system by calling in false allegations that make these social workers come to my house to look into false allegations…No case was ever opened but they have been called multiple times by the same person with the same complaints that are false and they have come to my home and talked to my kids and my husband and I and screened the complaints out. While a couple miles down the road this poor boy was going through this horrific abuse it makes me want to call this lovely person who likes to call dcf on me because she doesn’t like me and rub her nose in this story because of her actions and a lot of other people who like to use the system as a way to try to hurt someone they dislike because of them these overworked social workers are stuck investing families that really haven’t done anything wrong taking Joe’s prescious time away from cases where the children should have been taken away months ago if not yrs ago the whole system is screwed there are so many reasons this could and should have been caught and stopped sooner one of which could be an investigator a couple miles down the road a month ago at my house and not his. Once again the complaints were found to be just another lie told by my same enemy.
    Signed by a sickened GOOD MOM with an enemy who should have a heavy conscious.

  • Former Mass. foster kid
    July 28, 2015 at 8:32 am

    I cannot tell you how painful it is to me when a kid in foster care is hurt badly. It kills me. I have spent so much time in my life trying to figure out why the stuff that happened to me did. I think about my former social worker from the state, Mrs. Klein, and I cannot think of anything else that she could have done better. She was professional and caring and always trying to find a good placement for me. I was a teenager and few homes were available, people think that teens in need will burn their house down or something but I was such a good kid. Mrs Klein helped my sister find a safe place to live where she worked as a mother’s helper to a woman with small kids and a difficult pregnancy. I am so appreciative for what Mrs. Klein did for us but when I did find myself in an emergency type of home, it was a nightmare. It seemed safe at first but I did not think it would not stay that way for long due to changing circumstances such as boys were about to be sent to the home and I had no door on my room (I’m female). It was also very hard to be separated from my sister. That was so difficult that I will admit to trying to influence my outcome to stay near her rather than tell the whole truth about what was happening at home, mostly I avoided telling the whole story because I was petrified that foster care would be even worse. My friends had awful experiences for witch there was never any way to get justice. If there is one thing that still hurts me, it is how few people wanted to be foster parents or how the state made it so hard for me as a teen to make enough money to support myself due to child labor laws presumably set up to help kids. If I had thought for one moment that a safe place to live could have been found by my telling my social worker everything, I would have done so. The fact that it was otherwise made me feel so unwanted and like trash to the people of Massachusetts, I even moved away when I grew up in part because of that. I understand being furious at the situation that kids who are hurt by their parents while child protective services are involved but I have to agree with the social workers commenting here, they can’t know everything and other factors like fear of being placed in a crummy foster home does keep kids from telling them everything so please don’t place all the blame on them. Blame the people that are directly hurting these kids more than them and the fact that kids do not trust that a safe placement can be found and how that keeps them from talking. If you can be a foster parent and you know that deep in your heart it is because you are a good person, please consider doing that. Just make sure you give the kids doors on their rooms and only accept one gender unless they are siblings that don’t want to be separated.

    • Jude H
      September 18, 2015 at 6:49 pm

      God Bless you……I am so sorry for any hurt you have had to deal with in your life… I wish my sister could have found you..her and her husband had foster teen girls for years and were the Best of the Best……….and God Bless Mrs Klein also and all “Mrs. Klein’s”….. Thank you for sharing…….. I pray for you for a lifetime of peace and comfort and security……….Remember no matter what, Jesus loves you, always has, always will………

  • Wren
    July 28, 2015 at 4:56 am

    I sympathize with the DCF worker. Regardless of how or why they come to your door you should always cooperate. If your doing your job as a parent you really will have nothing but a positive experience. If you do what you need your social worker will go to bat for you passionately.
    Regarding pay scale.. I do not believe that any worker ever stops working, no one in human services can at 5pm turn it all off. Some are doing paperwork and returning calls until 7/8pm. It’s their goal to help in every way possible.
    It is horrific that children are victims of some brutal crimes and it really sucks that even the worst parents have rights however the social worker cannot be ever present in a home.

  • anonymous
    July 27, 2015 at 9:53 pm

    As a DCF social worker, I think the biggest thing overlooked is how sad it is that we even need a child protection service. I get we are all human and make mistakes, have bad days, say things we shouldn’t, etc., but to abuse or neglect a child to the point of needing hospitalization in unconscionable, and there is no excuse for it.

  • Laurie
    July 27, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    Have tried being the voice for some children myself reporting neglect to DCF. A situation well on its way to the Blackstone case. I lived in the same building as these neglected kids. DCF never showed up. My complaint completely ignored. My sister is currently trying to be the voice for our great nephews who are already involved with DCF & their worker ignores the things she brings to her about the boys and the issues with their safety and well being. So, yea… Not all of you are trying your best or doing everything you can. Some of you are handed appalling information and fucking ignoring it.

    • Kristen
      July 27, 2015 at 10:41 pm

      a) how do you know Dcf never showed up? Were you stalking their door 24/7? B) sometimes workers get information that is concerning, but what is concerning to you and to most people does not always meet the threshold for removal, there are laws they need to follow and a burden of proof. C) remember that while they could get really concerning information from you, they also have to get actual proof, and that’s not always as simple as it seems… Do you know how many workers are out there with kids who know in their gut bad things are happening there but can’t prove it, you can’t go to a judge and say “your honor, this family just gives me a bad feeling…”

    • Anonymous
      July 27, 2015 at 10:50 pm

      You can always contact the higher ups!

  • Anonymous
    July 27, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    It’s hysterical that you believe dcf workers get paid extra for each kid in foster care. They laughed it off and agreed because it’s called sarcasm. I can promise you there isn’t enough money that would make removing a child worth it. The finding foster homes, countless court dates, daily calls/emails for each child in placement that we have to follow up on asap, the doctors appointments we have to schedule and likely bring each kid to not to mention daycare or schools being set up along with transportation. If we got paid extra per child in foster care I could retire in a year or two. The truth is I hate removals. I hate having to tell a child I don’t know where they’re sleeping tonight because being at home isn’t safe. And God forbid they’re old enough to know what’s going on and they look at you and say “mom/dad are back at it aren’t they? Do I have a bed to go to?” Because that is beyond heartbreaking. I took this job knowing how terrible and stressful most days would be. What I live for are the moments you get to tell those kids in placement that they get to go home finally or when they find their forever homes when parents just can’t get it together. I live for those days where mom completes her drug program, gets her life back on track and I get to tell her how great she’s done and her kids are coming home next week. These days are few and far between but they make our mostly stressful and heartbreaking jobs worth all the tears we cry. Because we do cry. We cry when that parent let’s you down for the 7th time because you were convinced this was THE time they turned it around. We cry when we remove kids and have to separate them or see how horrifically they were neglected/abused. We cry when we get to say goodbye for the last time. We cry because we care. Sometimes we care so much it makes us angry when families don’t care as much. If I didn’t truly care about each child I work with, no money would make this worth it. I’m not saying all workers feel this strongly. But I can promise I feel this strongly. And the day I stop, is the day I change my job. I do the absolute best that I can as a dcf social worker. Every day. I even struggle on weekends when I find myself thinking about what else I could possibly do for numerous kids/families. I get offended when people say we ALL don’t care. Just because you had a bad experience doesn’t mean that’s a) because of the social worker or b) that all social workers are the same. Each family bees involved for a reason. Trust me, I don’t have time to waste on families who don’t need me in their life. I just dont. There’s a lot that needs to change starting with the government being able to fund enough workers to be able to effectively do the job we signed on for. Unfortunately we are only in the home once a month (more if there’s an emergency). We only have a slice of time we get to be one on one with the family. We rely on others involved with the family to report concerns or progress in order for us to prevent as much tragedy as possible. We do not control families. We aren’t the ones abusing children. We can only do so much to try and prevent it but we aren’t in the home 24/7. And when we get notified something happened on one of our cases, a pit forms in our stomach and we pray it isn’t horrific. We pray hard. Please understand we try our absolute best to make sure kids are kept safe and treated right. But don’t for one second think we don’t care.

  • thibby
    July 27, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    keep up the good work joe social . its not your fault. the system just sucks moose meat………

  • Anonymous
    July 27, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    Oh please, this DCF is talking so much out of his ass. These social workers could careless about any of these children. I had my child taken away for ABSOLUTELY nothing that I had done. & as far as these social workers pretending to care that’s why one visit at Van Ward in East Springfield office I made a comment about the workers not caring enough for the kids, only taken kids away for the more money in their paychecks, as social workers laughed & agreed they only do it for the extra money they make by taken children out of homes for ABSOLUTELY nothing.

    • Jafreese
      July 27, 2015 at 2:09 pm

      Well you’re right about one thing. He could care less

    • Former DCF Social Worker
      July 27, 2015 at 3:12 pm

      As a former DCF Social Worker, I can PROMISE you we do not get one penny more if a child is removed. In fact, we get our workload increased by HOURS and none of those are compensated. I am sorry you had a bad experience, but most social workers WANT to keep children in their own homes with their own parents, as long as it is a safe situation. Social Workers enter homes that are dirty, contain weapons, drugs, vicious animals, and confrontational family members. All with the intention that they will help the family nurture and care for their children. Although this letter indicates that DCF Workers are paid well, I can tell you that due to the high cost of living in MA, the salary forces many workers to live paycheck to paycheck. People become social workers to leave a positive mark on the world, not as a get rich quick scheme. Please do not let your singular experience translate to a blanket statement.

    • Anonymous
      July 27, 2015 at 7:27 pm

      The fact that anyone really, truly thinks DCF makes money off of removing children from their homes is the most asinine fucking thing EVER. If you had half a brain you would realize that it COSTS the state money to pay for the foster parents, and the child care, the medical care, the behavioral health services, the clothing, the birthday and holiday gifts, etc. for that child in care and pays for the hundreds of billions of hours it takes for the social workers, the judges, the lawyers, the clerks at the courts, etc. to then be involved in raising that child because their parent can’t get their head out of their ass for one second to stop arguing and being a complete idiot and just get their fucking shit together already. It is complete bull shit that you state Dcf workers were agreeing with this because it never happened as all social workers know there is no money in removing children from their families. There is no great answer or remedy from removing kids either. When a family gets to a point where their children are removed, it sucks for ALL involved including the social worker. It is the worst decision folks at Dcf have to make. So maybe instead of just bitching and moaning about your kids being removed for “nothing” (sounds like the inmate who isn’t guilty), or stating that Dcf wants to take people’s children, people should accept help before it gets to that point, or own up instead of fighting and take advantage of the help that’s out there, and stop having kids when you know you shouldn’t and aren’t ready. Removing a child is a lesser of two evils and no one wants that shit to have to go down.

      • Social workers too
        August 1, 2015 at 5:10 pm

        I’m a worker and that is a huge misconception. Workers don’t get paid more for removing children. Clearly there was imminent risk for your children. DCF doesn’t want to take your kids. We want you to parent them

    • Jerry
      July 27, 2015 at 10:32 pm

      you are so fucking off base…..if anything when a social worker takes your child from you it creates more work for them. Because regardless of how shitty of a parent you are, they now have to transport and supervise visits with you and your child. They can not make the decision to take your child only judge can. you are just looking for a crutch to lean on so you can prop yourself up to look like a good parent.

    • Anonymous
      July 28, 2015 at 2:35 am

      it’s the Van Wart office, not the Van Ward office. if you’d worked and cooperated with your DCF worker to get your child back, you probably would have known that though.

    • pam
      July 28, 2015 at 6:38 am

      Do you really think social wokers get some sort of commission for each child they “take away”?!?…if your child was taken you did do something…I’ve heard that story a million times! You are the reason why DCF workers “stay in business”bBC if your ignorance to see that you DID do something for your child to be taken away and you’re too ignorant to step back and re-evaluate your parenting tactics or lack there of.

    • JJ
      July 28, 2015 at 8:49 am

      This sounds like an ignorant comment feuled by bitterness and the inability to see past your own nose.

      July 28, 2015 at 10:11 pm

      YOU are an idiot and have absolutely NO IDEA what you’re talking about!!! And you have NO IDEA how difficult it actually is to remove a child from a home. Clearly, you are also in some serious denial and chose to blame DCF for your children being removed for “nothing..” People who place blame on others and don’t take responsibility for their mistakes are often those that REPEAT their mistakes. Step up and own it… Don’t blame the fucking state… Grrrrr

    • a good parent
      July 30, 2015 at 11:48 am

      Kids taken away for absolutely nothing, you say? Yeah right.

      And they dont get paid extra for taking kids away.. ignorant.

    • David Juvenile Justice
      July 28, 2016 at 5:37 pm

      Hehe..You just made the point for why the DCF exist you poor,poor ignorant soul. No worker makes any money from taking a child out of its home. If anything it creates more work. Then again if you put the work in to protect your children you’d be doing just fine.

  • John
    July 27, 2015 at 10:57 am

    Theres enough tax money flying around that the government can throw hundreds of thousands of dollars at Mosaic Fraudulent Complex so they can plan blockades of busy intersections and other illegal political actions but not enough money to properly staff our DCF offices to keep children safe. Sounds legit.

  • Heretik
    July 27, 2015 at 10:47 am

    I don’t think Turtle Boy has ever been speaking out against the DCF workers, but more the systems itself, which it appears is the complaint here as well. I would say thanks to the person that typed this email for at least putting some info out there so people do understand the system. It can be a shit show to say the least.

  • Megan DaSilva
    July 27, 2015 at 10:27 am

    I love Joe!

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