Butting heads with government bureaucracies can be a thankless task. It's exasperating enough that many people just walk away from a particular conflict in frustration, leaving the original problem unsolved.
For Crow Wing County's volunteer foster parents, those frustrations can include court decisions, state and county regulations and other bureaucratic tangles.
The foster parents sometimes face frustrations in dealing with the children in their care, who are not always model citizens themselves, making the foster parent's job that much more difficult. Add to that mix the touchy situations that can occur with the biological parents and it's easy to see why some folks are reluctant to become foster parents. It is an incredibly challenging job.
Fortunately, for the volunteers at the county's 70 foster homes, the calming presence of Duane Golden, has been there to guide them through the maze of bureaucratic rules and regulations and listen to their problems and concerns.
Golden retired last week after almost 34 years as a social worker in Crow Wing County, 22 of them as supervisor of the foster parent licensing program.
For all of those years Golden has been there for the foster parents, listening patiently and helping them work through their problems. Even under the best conditions raising children can be difficult work. Parents, even foster parents, sometimes need to vent their feelings. In the words of Bernie Penner, a foster parent, Golden's job is to "care for these people who care for the kids."
Golden's longevity has lent a stability to the county's foster program that is one explanation for the high number of foster homes compared to counties of similar size.
"You try with every child to help that child," Golden said recently. "But you can't set your goals too high in this business. You have to appreciate the little successes too."
There have been an estimated 4,000 neglected or abused children who have sought help from Crow Wing County since Golden began his career in social work here. There's no doubt he has been a big part of countless "little successes" in the lives of those children.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.