Social Worker and Child Welfare advocate, Angela Lane, carries on her family tradition of care taking as she works to fulfill the needs of every child and adult she cares for.
Continuing the Care
Angela Lane alone in the beige social services office,
Child care and social worker Angela Lane, age 50, sits alone in one of her three offices around Southern Kentucky. Cracker and protein bars fill the shelf behind her, for the days Lane cannot find time to eat lunch. The other office rooms surrounding her remain empty and no one, besides the receptionist, fills the beige hallways. "I come into the office everyday," Angela Lane, 50, says in between typing out another email, while working at the Center for Family Services in Franklin, Ky, "it's for my mental health", said Lane. The mental strain required of Lane's job, which consists of reviewing child abuse and welfare cases, was exasperated in March of 2020 when the national stay at home order was issued. The days at home quickly became monotonous and Lane discovered she had to work in her office to continue being able to be the caretaker she wanted, not only for the children she works with, but her family as well.
Lane squeezes in one last selfie with her 16 year-old son, Austin, at their Franklin, KY home before they both leave for Nashville, TN to celebrate his birthday. "He's a momma's boy!" says Lane, "I'm just afraid he'll never leave the house!"
Lane sits alone in her office listening to a Zoom call in Bowling Green, KY office on Tuesday, November 24. Although, it is the middle of the week her office is desolate, only Lane and the receptionist fill two of the some 20 offices.
"My schedule at work is like boom, boom, boom, so it raises by blood pressure when things aren't going on schedule." -Angela Lane
Though her schedule may seem tedious, Lane's isolated work in the office involving placing children into foster homes effects the lives of many. Unfortunately, all meetings with families and children have been forced to adapt due to the quarantine efforts of Kentucky creating a deeper separation of families and social workers. Lane, being the supervisor of child welfare of the greater Southern Kentucky area, continues to split her time between her office in Franklin, Ky, Bowling Green, Ky, and Owensboro, KY to ensure that things are running smoothly as possible in all there districts. The drives on Kentucky highways to her various offices offer no mercy for her schedule as driving time each day can reach up to 3 to 4 hours depending on the location.
Our new virtual world has made it more difficult Lane to work, but her inhibitions to care for others have not been affected. When asked about her dedication to her job for over 20 years, Lane explains, "My mom and grandmother were both in care, and I wanted to be another generation of caring women," Lane loves her line of work, but describes the detrimental mental toll social work can cause an individual as "secondary trauma", and says learning how to leave her job at the office was hard in the beginning.
All the party goers for Lane's sons birthday party gather outside to wait for their limo to Nashville, TN to arrive Angela stays connected to her phone between doing head counts of all the teenagers. She is constantly receiving phone calls to coordinate the birthday party of her youngest son.
"People are able to reach you at anytime."
The transition to having all her work conducted via Zoom calls, phone calls, and email exasperated the issue as office hours are now non existent and Lane began to take more on call shifts for the region. "People are able to reach you at anytime. I'll get stopped in Walmart with my kids and people will talk about their cases, and people have no problem calling you at one in the morning."
Lane collapses from laughter as her much younger cousins jump around her in the bounce house that has been set up for the annual Halloween Festival at the church Lane attends. When Lane was not rushing to set up the event, she was spending time with her cousin who she say, “have a very close bond. When she’s around me she’s like a mini me.”
As Lane sets the table for her family meal, her and her mother chat about Church happenings. Due to Lane hectic schedule, she is unable to cook every night, however throughout the week her mother and she will take days to cook for one another and Lane’s father and son.
Twelve 15 and 16 year olds fill Lane’s living room on Friday November 19th, as they prepare to drive to Nashville to celebrate the birthday Lane’s youngest son, Austin. “My life revolves around children”, Lane mutters to herself before getting into a heated conversation with her sons friends about how to keep Air Jordans pristine.
Every month Lane take her cousin to the salon for manicures, since they have not seen each other in almost a month as they embrace Lane exclaims, “Let me see those claws!”, and confirms it is time for both ladies to schedule another visit to the nail salon.
"It doesn't even matter who is over, he'll come down stairs and just start loving up on me," Lane spends much of her time at home with her youngest son, although it has become more challenging as COVID-19 has put Austin at home entirely and Angela must now help him stay on tp of his school work as well as balance her own schedule.
Lane carries two phones and wears three watches, to ensure that each day runs according to her precisely planned schedule and she is contactable at any point of the day. Lane refers to her planner everyday and everyday is exact, down to the hour to effectively distribute her time between her 16 year-old son at home, her enrollment in her church administration, and dedication to her family. "I'd much rather be busy than bored," Lane explains, as she flips through her dense planner.
"It can be secondary trauma. You have to learn how to leave work at the door." -Angela Lane
While much of Lane's time if filled making sure the care and needs of others are fulfilled, she will admit that her self care can fall to the background in-between her busy days. "I preach self care to my staff all the time, but sometimes forget to practice that myself," Lane explains. As a self described third generation caretaker, Lane has seen how caring for others can be harmful to ones own self. As Lane and her mother chat as they cook their weekly Sunday dinner Lane notes, "It's hard to be a caretaker at our age because you're so worried about taking care of someone else you forget to take care of yourself."
Lane has driven 40 minuets from her Franklin, KY home to go to her office in Bowling Green, Ky, she takes a moment in the office elevator before leaving her office. "It's hard to be a care taker at my age because you're so worried about taking care of someone else you forget to take care of yourself."
Photo credits: Brenna Pepke All photo and video materials belong to their owners and are used for demonstration purposes only. Please do not use them in commercial projects.