Over the past couple of decades, I’ve had the opportunity to provide a number of workshops and lectures on the importance of organizational Leadership. It goes without saying, every organization is a reflection of its leadership. This standard holds true for government as well. The passing of Senator John McCain this past week pushed me into a very contemplative frame of mind. As I ruminated on his life and impact, one word dominated my thinking – LEADERSHIP!
Category: Voice of our CEO
When I incorporated the Family Care Network almost 31 years ago, I had a very clear vision of how I wanted the organization to integrate with the community, and for how the community to integrate with the organization. In fact, we embedded this precept within our mission statement: “to enhance the wellbeing of children and families, in partnership with our community!” Legally, we are a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit Public Benefit Corporation, but for all intents and purposes – we are a Community-Based Organization! Let me explain the difference.
Every day it seems, the clinical staff at the Family Care Network are exercising their most imaginative and creative thinking in an effort to figure out what to do with youth referred for placement whose behaviors are so extreme that no one wants them. How would you like to take into your home a young lady who was removed from the “highest level of care and treatment” group home for assaulting staff and other foster youth? Or a youth addicted to heroin and other substances, who refuses help, and who can become assaultive and continually runs away to get high?
Like its predecessors, the 31st year of the Family Care Network has been amazing, challenging and extraordinarily fruitful. We began the year with our grand celebration of the passing our 30 year milestone–oh, what a wonderful experience. We were quite humbled to be recognized by so many entities, including our San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors, all of our state representatives, officials and members of Congress, along with many local business leaders and community partners.
“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.” Best Selling Author – Joel A. Barker.
I’ve always found it rather interesting how many people just live in the “here and now,” with little foresight or thought about the future. How sad to see folks just trudge along, day after day, without a sense of anticipation, aspirations, and no remarkable pursuits – no VISION! That is not living, that’s drudgery.
Foster care statewide, and even nationally, is being scrutinized, challenged and redefined. The plight of parentless children and youth has been troublesome for thousands of years. In some cultures, it was a value for benevolent families or individuals to care for orphaned children, but in others, these children were taken in as slaves, indentured servants, locked up, or left to fend for themselves. For centuries, there were orphanages or other similar institutions that minimally cared for parentless or discarded children.
One Friday in 1957, just before school was out for the year, my Mom scooped my sister and me up from school unexpectedly. Our Dodge Sierra station wagon--you know the kind with the small fins and turquoise panels--was packed full of stuff; lots of stuff. She said we were off on an adventure; wow, this sounded exciting!
The month of April is designated as National Child Abuse Prevention Month, as well as the Month of the Child. It serves as a great platform for discussing the extent of trauma youth all across our country are living with, and how our politicians have showed complete disregard and lack of concern, and, at times, disdain towards the safety and wellbeing of children and youth in this country.
I believe that there is always hope even in times of despair. I have witnessed people experiencing darkness that seems inescapable, and I have seen these persons find hope in the hope of others. Individually, each of us has experienced disappointment, loss, grief and pain. How did we transcend these dark moments? Hope and help imparted through others. Certainly faith is a major ingredient to overcoming adversity, but it is through caring relationships with others that faith is truly manifested.
I have spent the better part of 50 years working in a child welfare and juvenile justice system designed to intervene with youth who have “gone over the falls” and crashed into the rocks below. For decades, our children’s system of care has consumed millions of dollars reacting to child abuse, adverse childhood experiences, delinquent behavior, et cetera, instead of proactively working to stop children and youth from entering the child welfare/juvenile justice system in the first place.