Thursday, September 23, 2010

What to Expect...Or Not to Expect

For those of you who don't know, I am currently taking an online child psychology/development class. Part of the class is that each week we are given a small project to complete, and must post about our findings on the class discussion board. For this week's project, we were asked to use an agency that would typically give information about pregnancy and birth (with out using the internet) and see what, if any, resources they had for expectant mothers that are either illiterate or come from low income and underprivileged areas.

Most people were calling hospitals or planned parenthood, and I wanted to go in a different direction. So, I opened the yellow pages to "clinics" and found one specifically for pregnant woman and mothers. I thought, "this is perfect! An organization with one main focus must be more likely to offer services to underprivileged women!".   Boy was I wrong.

I called the clinic, and told the woman who answered that I was working on a school assignment and had a few questions about their programs and information they had available. She quickly told me that I would have to call the "business office", and I thought, "hey, no big deal". When I reached the office, the phone answered to an automated message, pretty typical, but instead of options such as "questions" and "appointments", the only place the machine would let me go from there was to contact specific people. Literally, it said, "to talk to Mary press one, to talk to Bob press two". So I did the only thing I could think of, press 0 for operator.

Once again, I explained to the woman who answered the phone that  I was a student and just wanted to find out about their programs and information available. Immediately she told me to contact the clinic, and when I assured her that they had given me this number she put me on hold. When she returned, she simply said "We cannot answer any questions, we don't have enough staffing". Obviously this lady thought that I wasn't the brightest bulb in the bunch, because I had just listened to a listing of all the supervisors who worked there ( a lot) and undoubtedly these weren't their only employees.

By this point I was furious that no one would answer my simple question, and so I asked "What would you do if you had an actual client call who had a question? Would you really tell them you didn't have the staffing?" She just gave an angry sigh and told me there was nothing she could do. Fuming, I pick up the home phone, called back to the main clinic, and before the receptionist even had a second to say "hello" asked, "What information and programs do you have for underprivileged women?!"
"Are you pregnant?" I knew if I said I was a student again she wouldn't answer my question.
"No, but a close friend of mine is. She has very poor reading skills and comes from a poor area. Do you offer anything that can help her?"

"Ummmm... Ummmm..." At this point I'm thinking, you have got to be kidding me..

"Well" she finally said, "We do have a lecture series on how to discipline children and build their confidence. Why don't you just have her call me?"

Perfect. The only thing you can do for a poor, illiterate woman is teach her about time-outs. Needless to say, this left me unspeakably shocked and angry. There are many teen mothers, and women who become pregnant without the means or education to take care of themselves or their unborn child. I am so disappointed that even a place that should be devoted to education and support doesn't offer anything to the people who need it most.

Sorry for the rant, but I needed to get this off my chest.

No comments: