FIJ Quarterly - Summer 2022 Edition

often requires a high volume of services for sustainability.How do we reach a critical mass to change this tide? What if each day, teachers had 30 minutes of focused time around proactive relationship building, not just between student and student, but student and teacher? What if health care professionals had mandatory self-care time built into their schedule from the supervisor daily? Abundant opportunities to connect will create momentum, and one of those relationships could be the magical agent of progress, as each of those opportunities builds capacity of both the helper and the family. We can’t fill every minute of a teacher’s day with academics or have therapists seeing ten clients a day. There will never be enough money or social workers available to hire or guidance counselors to respond to the needs of an entire community that is being brought into the school building each day; why aren’t we recruiting children and families to join in the solutions that are about them? Do we not see a mutual benefit? Father Gregory Boyle of Homeboy Industries defines this concept as ‘exquisite mutuality’, and in a recent interview, explained, “If I go to the margins to make a difference, then it’s about me. It can’t be about me. But if I go the margins so that the folks there reach me and alter my heart, then it’s about us. It feels passive, but it isn’t. If we go to the margins not to make a difference, but so that the “widow, orphan and stranger” make me different then the poor and powerless and all of us inhabit our nobility and dignity together in exquisite mutuality.” 1 Does our current child welfare system of care allow for this type of engagement? If you are a family being served, do you trust that this type of partnership is in your best interest? It’s one thing to say these words, but families know when this is real, and they certainly know when it’s not. Increasing relationships (partnerships) could equal more time available, but that time must be centrally focused on relationship building. Unfortunately, we’re moving further away from human connections because it takes too long and it’s harder to categorize in typical research methods. And time? Time is money. Today it’s not about quality, it’s about volume. You can put that time in proactively at a lower

cost burden, or you can put significantly more time and expense after things fall apart. Pay now or pay more later. Our priorities are tied to the outcome measurements, but we’re designing systems of care under the influence of rationalization in the United States and beyond. George Ritzer described rationalization in modern society as, “no longer the bureaucracy, but might be better thought of as the fast-food restaurant. As a result, our concern here is with what might be termed the “McDonaldization of Society.” While the fast-food restaurant is not the ultimate expression of rationality, it is the current exemplar for future developments in rationalization. A society characterized by rationality is one which emphasizes efficiency, predictability, calculability, substitution of nonhuman for human technology, and control over uncertainty.” 2 I’m guilty of an ongoing love affair with a good cheeseburger. Sometimes in the interest of time I’ll grab one but I can also acknowledge it’s not good for me. The central issue with this facet of time is control and who has the power; we’re in such a rush, and we can’t get to the finish line we desire without a human process; the result is the McDonaldization of Social Work, quick but not good for the long-term. The organizations of the future that will find a way to engage and have success with families where others cannot will prioritize humanity and personal connection above all other strategies. They’ll find the balance of providing a significant volume of services with deeper impact and realizing the numbers, while relevant, are just a part of the story. Relationships matter! This shift to greater rationality that Ritzer described as McDonaldization is only getting worse, and the things that so many, from policymakers, service providers, families, and others agree are so critically important to the success of children, are not where we are putting the majority of the dollars in human services. The juxtaposition is baffling and exhausting because it is not a new problem. Why are these ideas so radical? We know better! ______________ 1 "Father Gregory Boyle Speaks with Dallas CASA.” Dallas CASA , 13 Apr. 2021, gregory-boyle-speaks-with-dallas-casa/ 2 Ritzer, George. “The McDonaldization of Society” Journal of American Culture , Vol. 6, No. 1, 1983, 101

92 | FIJ Quarterly | Summer 2022

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