When I joined the California Katie A Therapeutic Foster Care litigation settlement workgroup, the lead attorney quipped, “California is like the Wild-Wild West; 58 counties doing what they d***-well please!” How true. Sadly, how very true.
Category: Voice of our CEO
When I started the Family Care Network in 1987, there was certainly a different approach and philosophy driving the foster care system; now, looking back, it seems like the Stone Age. The system has come a long way, but it has been a tough, hard row to hoe.
C.S. Lewis wrote, “It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.” What a great metaphor for the process of guiding any youth, but especially foster youth, to successfully take flight as an adult.
In the summer of 2012, the State Legislature enacted SB 1013 which mandated the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) to launch a broad-based, stakeholder process to determine how to reform California’s foster care system by creating a “continuum of programs and services that promote positive outcomes for children and families”, and provide a comprehensive recommendation to the Legislature by the end of 2014. Thus, began an intense two and half year process in which I was honored to be a participant.
I have often wondered how unbearable life would be without the skill, commitment, tenacity and hard work of Social Workers, position embedded in so many essential activities of our society. They work with children and seniors, the sick and impaired, victims and the exploited, the unemployed and those in recovery, schoolchildren, the dying and the mourning; in hospitals, in schools, in impoverished areas, in remote villages and our metropolitan areas.
Strategic Planning has been a significant element in my four decades of executive administration in both the public and private sectors. I started the Family Care Network in 1987 with a Strategic Plan, and we have continued to follow an aggressive planning process which has produced amazing results. But, it has not been without challenges and, at times, a lot of frustration! The good news–the ups and downs have helped us to hone an approach which is very effective and manageable.
Imagine if you will, how wonderful it would be to have the skills to improve a child or youth’s health, reduce obesity, improve academic performance and stabilize school behavior, improve self-confidence, build resiliency, reduce risk factors for engaging in violent or criminal behavior, improve future hopefulness and goal setting, build leadership skills and substantially improve their potential for success and achievement. Sound challenging? It’s not. Become a Mentor!
I must really be getting old fast, because time is accelerating at warp speed. Seriously, 2014 can’t be coming to an end; the past year seems like a blur. It almost feels like we went from 2013 to 2015. Yes – 2015! Let’s say goodbye to another year. Be careful, in a nod and a wink it will be 2016.
As years go, 2014 was a good one. We started out in grand style, holding our Grand Opening in our new Administrative Headquarters and Conference Center. Nearly 500 people showed up to help us celebrate this accomplishment.
Sir Winston Churchill once said “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” These words have always inhabited my thoughts; a simple, profound truth. Think for a moment what it would be like if we were all obsessed by what we gave and not with what we get. Greed only corrupts the human heart–compassion invigorates it!
Nobody can dispute the value to a child, whether in the foster care system or not, of having a Permanent Family. In my 40 something years of working within the Child Welfare System, the public policy shift to Safety, Wellbeing and Permanency has been fantastic – absolutely in the best interest of kids within the system. In the past 15 years, the number of children and youth in the foster care system has dropped by around 27%; much of this attributable to moving kids quickly to permanency.