25 Years

Jim Roberts
August, 14, 2012 -

Several people have asked me recently "did you ever imagine Family Care Network being what it is today?" That is a harder question to answer than you might imagine; and one I hadn’t really thought about before. No. Well, maybe yes…kind of? I’m not really sure! On one hand, absolutely not – there is no way I would have foreseen the Family Care Network as it exists today. On the other hand, I had a dream, a passion and an idea of what could possibly be. Interestingly, my vision was never about how big we would grow or what size budget we would have; rather, it was, and still is: can we do something new, innovative, more effective and beneficial for children and youth with high-needs and behavioral challenges? 25 years ago there were three questions which fueled my fire and ignited me to act: 1) can we more effectively use foster-families to treat children and youth; 2) is there something we can do to help families work with their own children, preventing their removal and placement in institutional care; and 3) can't we do something better for foster youth leaving the system other than showing them the door and wishing them a nice life? In my pursuit to answer these questions, I had no idea where the path would lead, but I had a keen sense of excitement about the possibilities!

As most of you know, in my pre-FCNI life, I worked about 15 years in probation administration which included child protective services. It was a great experience, especially because it served as the impetus driving me to join the effort to create a better system to help traumatized, emotionally disturbed kids and older foster youth. But I also had a very well-embedded philosophical foundation on which to build our organization. I believe my passion coupled with these seven principles has brought us to where we are today. Let me expound.

Always be Mission-Focused: Our mission is why we exist; it is the embodiment of the passion our organization has for the children, youth and families we serve.
Always do what is Best for Children, Youth and Families: Is there a right way to do business—do it. Is there a better way to serve—find it. What's best for kids and families is best for the organization!
Do Everything with Integrity and Excellence: High Integrity and Excellence are the soul of our organization. Lose or compromise these values, and the organization’s ability to fulfill its mission is seriously damaged.
Be Accountable and Visible: As a publicly funded organization, everything we do must be in plain view. Accountability means measurability, measurability means clearly defined outcomes. Every agency program and process must have ongoing scrutiny, measurement and reporting.
Do Everything through a Collaborative, Team-Driven Process: Create synergy—collaboration produces a total effect far greater than the capacity of the individual participants. Teams produce shared responsibilities and successes, which produces better outcomes for children, youth and families.
Always Provide the Best Customer Services: We are a "Service" organization. We serveour clients; we serve the agencies that refer our clients; we serve our foster families who care for foster children and youth; and we serve each other. Great Customer Services produces great outcomes!
Always be Creative, Innovative and a Visionary: Never stop dreaming, "Imagineering," creating and planning for the future. Never be content with the "here and now," but proactively set the course towards a better, more effective future! Don't react to change—create it!

25 years journeying down this road has been a “pinch me” experience for sure. Amazing coworkers, amazing foster parents, amazing county partners, amazing community volunteers, amazing community supporters equals amazing outcomes for children, youth and families. What’s more, I am more excited about the next 25 years!