Abuse & The DSHS: Some Tips On How To Handle It
The sad and undeniable fact of
being a DSHS client is having to contend with abusive workers and
administrators. Our first piece of advice to clients reading this page is:
BE VERY CAREFUL WHAT YOU SAY TO YOUR WORKER
BECAUSE ALL CONVERSATIONS ARE RECORDED BY MEANS OF A COMPUTER JOURNAL
All journals written
by workers are admissable in court.
The state WILL USE
these journals as exhibits against you if you disagree with one of their
decisions and request a fair hearing.
Your worker may have
a personal prejudice against you, in which case he/she may write biased
statements about you.
March 22, 2000 - Computer Journals and Your Rights
You have right to request copies of these journals, because they
are a part of your case file and they're written about you. If you don't ask,
however, workers at your local office definitely won't offer. In fact, most
clients don't even know they exist, usually until it's too late... often at a
fair hearing, where you'll be shocked to learn of their existence.
Requesting copies of your case file's journals is a very
sensible thing to do. It's important to know what's being said about you. Here
in WA. State they are called "ACIS Notes". The journal keeping system went
online in May 1996 in our state. We had to request ours through the fair hearing
coordinator, who also doubles as the public disclosure officer. In our opinion,
having the person who handles fair hearings also disclose case files is a bad
idea, for obvious reasons.
That time you were distraught when talking to your worker, the
time when he/she attacked you with point blank questions, the time when you may
have lost your temper with him/her....all of those things and more are written
in these journals. Preventing a tragedy from happening begins with knowing
what's being said about you by the workers of the agency that's "managing" your
life. If you haven't seen them yet, demand to see them NOW. (Of course, this
depends largely on your workers "availability".) Also, if you plan to take your
court battle with DSHS to a higher court, you'll need these often-time
slanderous journals, whether you're representing yourself or not.
From our experience the DSHS is not always cooperative with getting the
journals to you in a timely fashion once a lawsuit has begun, so once again,
request them now, before a problem starts.
Another important point to remember when
representing yourself, is to request that all important matters and decisions
be put into writing. Things said over the phone can't be proven, and we
have made it our policy to keep phone conversations to a minimum. It makes
a lot more sense to be able to say you have something written to show and prove
than to talk about a phone call made on a certain date and time, etc., which could
always be denied by the person you spoke with.