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Thread: Ethical dilemma, dang it

  1. #1
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    Ethical dilemma, dang it

    I am actually in the verge of tears right now. I have had 2 12 hour days and apparently have one tomorrow. Usually i go in late on friday but it is a dismissal day, meaning 12 hours of camp. I went back and forth with supervisor about how many staff i could have, he said only 3 for 21 kids and about a 12 hour camp day. I advocated hard because that puts me in ratio and working 12 hours but no budging. It means that we go 6 hours with either taking no bathroom break or putting our program out of ratio to do it. A colleague also has the day off school and is sending me a staff person on her budget, some of the kids signed up are not our regular students, i talked to one mom and the paperwork said celiac, OTand PT but no accomodations needed. No, he has down syndrome and needs to be diapered according to his teacher. I am the only one who could do this so i am back to that 12 hour day. It is too late to cancel his care but i need a serious talk with family.

    I am just not even sure where to go next with sup. The new head of our department is a big reason he got the job, so no going up the chain of command! But he doesn't know things, at best this situation disrespects my time by not allowing me to staff reasonably, at worst puts safety in question. English is also not his first language but as long as i slow down and am careful about bow i explain things that doesn't seem to be the problem. I just keep trying my best communication and i don't trust he understands what i am saying. I even sent visual schedules to support what i was saying. In other cases he has tried to help me with staffing, he doesn't have any information about the candidates and seems confused when i remind him i need a higher qualified candidate than what he has found. He visited me yesterday and didn't recall basic information such as how my program runs. Meanwhile super nice and eager, and i really want to get past whatever misunderstanding. I have thought about asking someone to sit with us to talk, just so much risk of this coming back on me again.

    Oh dear

  2. #2
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    Just curious... do you have a law regarding required breaks for adults working in your program?

    (in California, it is 10 min. break inside of every 4 hours)

  3. #3
    Senior Member herbgeek's Avatar
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    This doesn't sound so much of an ethics issue as a legal or health and safety one. This definitely needs to go up the chain.

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    I think on the breaks that is where he would say i would be there out of ratio,but that doesn't actually work out without a 4th staff.

    I am mostly talking now to colleagues to see what they have been told, i am one of 3 schools to have this day off not the full 47 schools so that means not as many people are dealing with this yet. Also we are on a big budget kick now, maybe this is what they expect? I have 5 more of these days this year as compared to my colleagues so that is a big imact.

  5. #5
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    Not about ethics - either you have coverage and legal working conditions, or you do not. If you do not, either you cancel the event, add staff, or violate the law.

    i would send him an e-mail laying out the three options as clearly and briefly possible and asking him to make a decision, and I would copy his boss. At minimum you are creating a paper trail for your own defense.

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    Something like "I am concerned that we don't seem to be communicating clearly on this event.

    here is the staffing, here is the law, I do not see any way to provide legal coverage with the existing staffing. If I am missing something, please show me how I can shift staff to meet the legal requirements. Otherwise, I need to know if you want me to hire additional staff, cancel the event, or proceed in violation of the law."

    if the kid needs his diaper changed, call his mom. "I'm sorry, but we are not staffed to be able to deal with this situation because you listed "no accommodations needed" on his form."

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chicken lady View Post
    Something like "I am concerned that we don't seem to be communicating clearly on this event.

    here is the staffing, here is the law, I do not see any way to provide legal coverage with the existing staffing. If I am missing something, please show me how I can shift staff to meet the legal requirements. Otherwise, I need to know if you want me to hire additional staff, cancel the event, or proceed in violation of the law."

    if the kid needs his diaper changed, call his mom. "I'm sorry, but we are not staffed to be able to deal with this situation because you listed "no accommodations needed" on his form."
    I like this suggestion a lot. But do you actually want to offer in writing to proceed in violation of the law? What if email just says, "I need to know if you want me to hire additional staff or whether we should cancel the event"?

  8. #8
    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    ZG, as you strive in polite gentle way to help him understand, you are undermining yourself and your responsibility. Gentleness doesn't work especially with those who don't approach life/work the same way.
    When are you going to start dealing with the reality? As CL stated, this is the law; you have to abide by it. Your sup needs to attend to those who have special needs to understand the demands of the job as he apparently does not so how can he understand what you are gently trying to get hime to understand. You are not talking the same language. Talk like a man would under that same circumstances to comply with the law, now and for the future events.
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

  9. #9
    Senior Member Williamsmith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chicken lady View Post
    Something like "I am concerned that we don't seem to be communicating clearly on this event.

    here is the staffing, here is the law, I do not see any way to provide legal coverage with the existing staffing. If I am missing something, please show me how I can shift staff to meet the legal requirements. Otherwise, I need to know if you want me to hire additional staff, cancel the event, or proceed in violation of the law."

    if the kid needs his diaper changed, call his mom. "I'm sorry, but we are not staffed to be able to deal with this situation because you listed "no accommodations needed" on his form."
    I also like this suggestion. Verbal communication with supervisors without documentation of what was actually said, is a risk to you. If you can't control the method, at least put it down in writing as soon after the verbal communication occurs. Your specific situation seems to invite miscommunication due to a language conflict. Don't hang yourself out to dry on trust alone.

    My wife worked full time in the childcare industry for a non profit. She is now part time for them because she got a job as a teachers aid in the school district. They are constantly understaffed and often out of ratio. They intentionally cut corners and invite bad outcomes with their trying to save a dime. The only advocate for the kids is the staff.

    There is nothing wrong with actively seeking a better job situation. Just in case. You don't have to be a martyr although that's probably what they are looking for.

  10. #10
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    I will point out that I am NEVER out of ratio as a program. We are never not-legal, because I do go in and work as needed and work very creatively to make sure we have enough qualified and licensed staff at all times. I use the term 'out of ratio' for me in this case to say that I am not currently part of ratio, instead I am a support person. I feel a support person is necessary in case of emergencies like this little guy with special needs or previous students that have serious behavior needs, and the bathroom breaks. As far as legal breaks for staff, they do tell us to cover 30 minute breaks at 5 hours and be available for staff needing a break, but when I try to add this all up for him it falls apart and he does not agree.

    I will keep working on the conversation, following up with emails, and documenting. I have been doing that this year and on this issue already. I was talking to a colleague about some things and she told me again that I was too nice for certain things. No, I am really not too nice. I am however aware that I have legal limits to what I can do and a stinging memory of the last time I really took a strong stance on things and felt like I got burned for it in my review. My improvement plan following that was a joke, but they made their point.

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