Three-Part

Webinar Series

We launched The Unlearning of Child Welfare with a three-part webinar series where we feature dynamic guests with lived and professional expertise. Join our mailing list to stay up to date on future developments in the Unlearning of Child Welfare series.

The Unlearning of Child Welfare, Episode 1: The Why

Episode 1 Transcript

Intro

[00:00:00] Hey everybody. I’m Jaquia Wilson, an advocate, a professional, and an alumni of the Child Welfare System. This is the first episode of the Unlearning of Child Welfare brought to you by the Institute for family. In the fall of 2020, I hosted a three-part webinar series on the very topic of this podcast name. It’s an important conversation. So, we turned it into a podcast for students to inspire America’s next generation of professionals to improve outcomes for families. In this first episode, Sandra Gonzalez, vice president of the Annie E. Casey foundation and I facilitate a conversation with leading professionals about their origin stories and why it is important for them to advance family wellbeing in their work. You’ll hear from four others. Shrounda Selivanoff, public policy director at the Children’s Home Society of Washington; Melissa Merrick, the CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America; Matt Anderson the director at The Institute For family; and lastly, you’ll hear David Kelly, the special assistant to the associate commissioner of the Children’s Bureau. See you at the end of the dialogue and enjoy.

Jaquia Wilson: [00:01:19] The Institute is a brand-new platform where parents and professionals can come together to elevate family wellbeing, not just families within the child welfare system for all families. We envision a future where we have dramatically reduced our over-reliance on foster care, and families are thriving. I want to take a few seconds to really explain how important today’s conversation is. With our current focus on child safety as our main priority, our system is not prioritized family wellbeing. While our objective is to keep children safe, we neglect to listen to family voice, missing their experience and what they can teach us. We believe that family well-being should be at the center of the conversation. Today, we will talk about why we need to advance a family well-being focus and how we can believe in and empower families. I’d like to kick it off and pass it to our co-host, Ms. Sandra Gonzalez.

Sandra Gonzalez: [00:02:13] Thanks. And let me just say, I love being a co-host with you. It’s an honor. I’ve been thinking a lot about what you’re trying to accomplish at the Institute for Family and what you said about communication and family, and I wanted to just say a little bit about why I come into this work the way that I do. Because, you mentioned the word ally, and I appreciate that. That means a lot to me, and I do see myself that way. And on any given day, I might fall short of being an ally, but I sure will always put myself out there to be an ally for youth, for children, and for families. And the way I come to this work really is from a shattered dream that I had, which was, I originally decided to be an outpatient therapist decades ago.  And my first caseload was with youth, children and parents who had been separated. And so, at the age of 20 something, I was sitting in four walls, in an office counseling families who had gone through some pretty significant challenges. And I was shattered by the stigmas that we were required to put on families and the children when there was so much more social context that was missing. And the reasons that they might be depressed or traumatized were less about the reasons they became separated to begin with. It was about the harm that was being done through the system by keeping families apart. But the thing that always has struck me is the resilience and the strength that families brought into that office and bring every day as they’re experiencing the system. And what I experienced decades ago in that role in a different state, that’s all in my rear-view mirror. But what is in front of us today really is the same. It’s pretty similar, and we have to change that. And that’s my why.

Jaquia Wilson: [00:04:06] Wow! Sandra, thank you so much for laying that out and for being willing to help facilitate this conversation with me. I think for me, the why really takes part in how I was raised and the things that I saw within my own family. Now that I’m a little bit older, I have two dogs and how I communicate with them is really important. They’re just a small part of my family, but they really are who I consider to be my family. And so, I’ve been learning how to train and how to communicate. And I think today here on this platform, we’ll have some very interesting guests who can explain to us and share their experiences to their why, why they’re here today to have this conversation with us. I’ve shared a little bit about why I’m here today and I want to share just a little bit more as we dive into our panelist responses. So, I really want to learn today how I can change, like I said, my own family’s future. I want to break those generational curses of lack of communication. When tragedy struck and hit my family, we, in part, failed to stay connected due to the lack of communication. And so, when I have children, I want to make sure that they’re equipped with the skills that they need to not just survive during tragedy, but to really thrive and to be a well off even after. So, with that, I want to really focus on why we should move towards child and family well-being system. What are the benefits? So, I’m going to ask our first panelists, Shrounda, what is the foundational experience that taught you that you were, that we need to build something new that focuses on prevention and addressing the conditions that families face.

Shrounda Selivanoff: [00:05:37] So, first thing I’m just going to start off by saying language matters. And we have this system in place that says child welfare. So from the onset, you can disregard me as a person who needs care, because we were saying that the child needs to be the focus in the center. A family wellbeing system essentially says, we’re going to look at the whole family. Family is sacred and it means something to each and every one of us and it looks different to every one of us. And so, my experience has really taught me that, you know, I came from some conditions that were not necessarily favorable to a healthy development, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t have redeemable qualities and I don’t have strengths and beauties about who I am, even coming from those conditions. As I look at it as moving towards a family wellbeing system, what I recognized is that we see worth in each and every person in that family. I’m always baffled the way that the system will operate, because I wonder how we instill hope and worth in children when we remove them out of everything that they’ve ever known. And I questioned, if you don’t have worth for my family, how do you have worth for me? And I think that there’s those unsaid messaging that we don’t necessarily want to confront because we have a way of seeing that we’ve done something good by removal. Your data says something completely counter to that. And so as we move towards the child welfare being, what I’m recognizing is that we want to really keep each member, siblings, aunts, uncles, community members at the center of our work. We recognize that each person has an importance and value. We want to have that be a reminder and as we move towards the center of family wellbeing, I want to just say, we have to really recognize the conditions. And now the conditions that folks are living is, does that support wellbeing? And if it doesn’t, how are we moving towards that? So historically we have very little investment in families. We have a high end of investment on the other end, rehoming families and putting them in places so that they can receive those supports there. So, as we move towards a family wellbeing system, what I can tell you is that we should be really focused on our investment, keeping families together, knowing that each person has an important role in the development and overall societal importance. And we want to really start to generate that for not just the family, but society as a whole.

Jaquia Wilson: [00:08:10] Wow. That’s powerful. And Melissa, would you like to respond?

Melisa Merrick: 00:08:12] I would love to. And actually, I just want to pick up on something that Shrounda said and it’s the word conditions. Because I agree that language matters, but it’s important that we understand to what conditions we’re talking about. I think so often we think about physical conditions without thinking about the socio-political conditions. We know that there are some policy strategies that help children and families reach their maximum health and life potential and others that really just don’t do good enough. So, I came to this work really similar to kind of what Sandra shared, but my PhD is in child psychology. I was on a postdoctoral fellowship in a child protection team in mind and I was a young mom. I had a nine-month-old baby so probably had my own mental health things going on in that time. But had lots of support around me, had family close by, had resources, other kinds of conditions that probably supported me and my family. And into my office came a young family, probably teen parents, a nine-month-old baby. And the nine-month-old baby had some bruising. And I was just struck by the fact that this family had touched many other systems before that we could have prevented this harm from occurring in this family had we had a child and family well-being system. Had we not been a system that only once this young family found themselves in crisis, could we provide services or were they identified. And this was a family who only spoke Spanish, had no family close by. Mom was working two or three jobs, dad was unemployed. So many challenges that really made me understand that families cannot solve these challenges on their own, right. This is all of us together across sectors, across community, across agency that have to work together to have families be strengthened and recognize that children are safer with their families than from their families when their families are supported. So, it was really for me and eye opening and very humbling to experience on the fact that we had a same age child, but our experiences were so different and the conditions within which we had to navigate those experiences and either overcome and thrive or continue to struggle and really wanted to be part of a child and family system. And so, I’m just so thankful for even this conversation today.

Matt Anderson: [00:10:58] I’ll jump in here and I’m struck. I was going to start as a therapist as well in my career. It wasn’t what I was meant to do. And the reason I love this question, Jaquia, about what is our origin story. And we think about our origin stories for why we do what we do, I think it can help us find what our purpose is. I think our purpose and our origin are very much connected. And I think we have to know our purpose in this work. We have to know why we’re doing this because we’re all here on this webinar, I think for one reason. We want to embark on an effort that can take us in a very different place. Shrounda used the best word I think we can use, which is the conditions that families face. How are we going to start addressing the underlying causes that lead to child welfare involvement? What are the conditions, not the families or the parents themselves, but the conditions that they face? And it’s going to be difficult. I think it’s going to be really difficult. I think it’s going to take time. I think it’s going to take years, if not decades, for us to see the kind of real progress that we want. And so, to endure that, I think we want to stay grounded in our purpose. I think we all can go back to our origin story and find our purpose. And for me, I think it was pretty clear in 2007. And I took a new job as an independent living case manager. I was working with Cody and Rafi and it was Mandy and Micah and Raelynn and Kristen. It was specific kids who I worked with and I built relationships with, and I really got to know their experience and I got some of their story. And these were kids that I was supposed to help them age out of foster care and become independent adults. And I had a bunch of realizations in that work that all happened really fast. One, independence shouldn’t be the goal. We don’t want 18-year-olds to be independent. We want them to be in community and relationship and family, but my job was to get them to be independent. I didn’t think that was going to work. The other realization, which was the big one for me, that I think is what cemented for me that this is my purpose, which was I had this realization or this belief for me anyway, that when we remove kids from their parents and place them in foster care, I believe we make a promise to their family. We make a promise to their family that we can do better for your children than you can at this moment. And on the day that they age out when Cody, Micah, Ray, Mandy, when they were going to turn 18 on that day, I felt like we failed in that promise. And that honestly, that realization that I had 13 years ago has been what’s been driving me. And it’s cemented for me that my purpose is, for the last 13 years, it’s been how do we make the foster care experience the best it can be? How do we make it better? How do we improve it? What is foster care reform going to be? All of those kinds of things. And I’ve worked with some really amazing people and we’ve done some incredible work. I think we’ve really made an impact. I think we’ve done some really good work over those years here in North Carolina and others in many other places. Yet, in North Carolina, we’ve seen a 50% increase of the number of kids in foster care, over the last five years. So despite our great efforts and our desire to make foster care the best it can be, we’re getting more foster care. You know, what I’ve realized this past year, really that, and this has become my purpose tied to my origin story is the goal isn’t to make foster care the best it can be, the goal is to prevent it in the first place. And it doesn’t mean that it’s going to go away forever, it doesn’t mean that we aren’t going to need child protection and temporary foster care, I think we probably will. But I think that we need to focus our efforts on family. We need to live up to this promise that I think we’ve made to families. And I think we can, I think there’s a lot that we can do to help strengthen families, to see the conditions that they face, to understand what’s happening in community and to redirect our efforts. I’m excited about that work. I know it’s going to be difficult. There are a lot of people that are, I think, ready to move in that direction and excited to do this work and I’m excited about it. I think that it’s in part what the Institute for Family wants to contribute to is moving towards how do we see families in a way that can help us strengthen families and to Shrounda’s point, address conditions. But I’m so thrilled for this conversation today in this group coming together and the work ahead of us. So, I’ll stop there.

David Kelly: [00:15:01] So I suppose I’m last. And I would say as to the why, to me, it couldn’t be more simple. And it’s that families matter. All families, not just those that look like mine, no matter how they’re configured, no matter where they’re from, family matters. It’s where we get our sense of belonging. It is a vital connection for our wellbeing, and it’s time we started acting like that. Because if we don’t, we’ll simply be on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of justice. And my origin story I’m coming to understand is really one in having my eyes opened to privilege I did not earn and privilege I’ll never know what it’s like to exist in the world without.  And I was most directly confronted by that as a young 20 something year old student teacher who was working on the edge of the Saint Regis Mohawk reservation. And I got a sense then in ways that I never would have imagined how unfair conditions can be. Seeing families that were struggling with normal familial challenges, things that I had family members that struggled with and neighbors had struggled with, families that absolutely loved each other, treated completely differently. And this replicated itself and has and continues every step of my career. When I worked with homeless and runaway youth in Newark, New Jersey, I saw the same thing play out again. And it’s a destructive pattern that we’ve got to own and take on, you know, simply by being born black, brown, or native American in this country, your family shouldn’t have less of a chance to be together. You shouldn’t be valued less. And if you’re poor, you shouldn’t have less of a chance to sit together, either. I think we just have this critical moment to come together during a time of great division in the country around the one thing I hope there’s more than one, but one thing I know that we all have in common and that’s that we have families, and we should all coalesce around doing everything that we can to celebrate, support, strengthened, and acknowledge just how important family is to all of us.

Jaquia Wilson: [00:17:27] Wow! That’s really powerful stuff, guys. I am hearing this common theme of conditions and wanting to really understand those conditions and the things that our families we serve face. And I’m also hearing a lot about what you guys learned earlier on in your careers, this theme of 20 something that you guys keep throwing around. And so, I guess my hope for today is really that everyone who’s in their 20 something moment realizes this earlier on so that they can do work with a very great impact.

Outro

I know the conversation ended quickly, but it continues in episode two. In the meantime, take a moment to think about what is, or will be your origin story or purpose for seeing this work differently.

How will you approach this work differently? Now join us in episode two, so you can hear what myself, Sandra and the rest of the panelists have to say about this conversation on why we need to advance a family wellbeing focus.

Episode 1 Resources
Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez, Vice President of the Center for Systems Innovation at the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Press Release: Thriving Families, Safer Children: A National Commitment to Well-Being →

Shrounda Selivanoff, Social Services Specialist:

Article: Choose Compassion When Supporting Parents → 

Article: In Pursuit of Growing and Healing – Changing Child Welfare →

David Kelly, Special Assistant to the Associate Commissioner of the Children’s Bureau:

Article: Standing in the Breach →

Bryan Samuels, Executive Director at Chapin Hall:

Article: Family and Child Well-Being – An Urgent Call to Action →

Episode 1 Panelists Bios

Shrounda Selivanoff is a passionate Advocate for Child Welfare involved families. She’s driven by her own experience in child welfare system navigation. Shrounda brings a birth parent’s perspective to inform policy, practice, and system reform. Shrounda is also dedicated to transforming the system to serve families’ needs equitably.

David P. Kelly, JD, MA oversees the U.S. Children’s Bureau’s work with courts and the legal community, including the State and Tribal Court Improvement Programs. Before joining the federal government, David was an Assistant Staff Director at the American Bar Association Center on Children Law. He also previously worked as a Senior Assistant Child Advocate at the New Jersey Office of the Child Advocate.

Melissa T. Merrick, Ph.D. is President and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America, the nation’s oldest nonprofit organization dedicated to the primary prevention of child abuse and neglect. Melissa has nearly 20 years of clinical, research, and leadership experience related to the etiology, course and prevention of child abuse and neglect.

Episode 1 Hosts Bios

Jaquia Wilson is an Advocate for Youth who have been in the child welfare system. She began vocalizing youth rights at age 15 when she was placed in congregate care. As an alumna of the child welfare system, Jaquia now supports youth in care as the Community Engagement Coordinator for Children’s Home Society of North Carolina’s SaySo program (Strong Able Youth Speaking Out).

Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez is the Vice President of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Center for Systems Innovation. In her role, Sandra oversees national and state reform efforts in three key areas: child welfare, young people transitioning into adulthood, and juvenile justice. Prior to assuming this role in 2018, she was Director of Casey’s Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative. This organization aims to equip young people leaving foster care with the relationships, resources, and opportunities needed to achieve well-being and success as they transition into adulthood. She is a graduate of the National Hispanic Leadership Institute and holds an Executive Leadership Certificate from Harvard University.

The Unlearning of Child Welfare, Episode 2: The How

Episode 2 Transcript

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Jaquia Wilson: All right, so welcome. Welcome to the second episode in this webinar series. The unlearning of child welfare, if you attended the first episode. Well, welcome back.

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Jaquia Wilson: super happy. As you guys could be here with us today. My name is Joe Wilson and I am an advocate for you a professional in the field and an alumnus of the child welfare system and here with me co hosting is my wonderful ally and power Sondra guests that those Alice a Sondra

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: He class. Good to see you.

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Jaquia Wilson: Nice to see to them so happy you could join us today.

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Jaquia Wilson: So yeah, I just want to recap, a little bit and share with our newer attendees, a little bit about what the institute is

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Jaquia Wilson: Overall, the Institute is a brand new platform where parents and professionals can come together to elevate family well being and

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Jaquia Wilson: This is all families. I’m not just families in the child welfare system. So in our last episode we introduced to you all the idea of unlearning child welfare language and reinventing that with something like family well being.

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Jaquia Wilson: Honestly, Sandra. I was struck by the communication that’s a place on the first episode.

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Jaquia Wilson: The conversation was powerful. Thank you so much to the willing participants on our panel and to the audience for being so engaging

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Jaquia Wilson: We really got a lot out of what you all dropped in the chat. We really received a lot of positive feedback and eager people all over who share the same vision.

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Jaquia Wilson: Of shift into a family well being focused and that excites me, it excites my entire team. So thank you all so much for being here Sondra, did you want to share a little bit about your reflections from the last episode.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: Yeah, thanks to choir, you know, I’ve been thinking a lot about like the first webinar and why we are even talking about this and I think

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: You have I. You and I have talked about this, but one of the things, one of the reflections that I was having that show Rhonda. I think actually landed in the first webinar.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: Is about the conditions that families face and how we need to unlearn that it is not the case that we always need a service or intervention fix because addressing conditions family are living in requires something different, something that doesn’t exist. And so for me, like,

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: I was really sitting with that that we’re so service driven so intervention driven and where the power really is is in listening to families listening to young people and hearing what their solutions are so that’s what that’s what struck me

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Jaquia Wilson: Awesome. Gosh, I know a lot of things really hit home for me but I definitely left feeling like I learned or unlearned rather some of the practices and things that I’ve experienced throughout my experience in care. And so I’m super excited about that.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: Yeah. One of the other things you know that struck me, and I thought people were really, really vulnerable about was the whole

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: Issue around race equity.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: And around how you know what are people professionals individuals who are in this work. What are they doing to better equip themselves around bias explicit or implicit bias. And so that was another thing I felt like we started to touch the surface but

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: Time couldn’t really go as deep as I think we both wanted to go

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Jaquia Wilson: Yeah, I think that really just leaves us with the question that we are trying to really help answer today. And that’s, you know, the how.

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Jaquia Wilson: Behind a lot of what we’re doing and how, how do we plan on moving forward in and seeing each state kind of take on the same vision and in having a family well being focused child welfare system.

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Jaquia Wilson: And that’s another thing that’s Toronto really hit on she’s like language is really important in child welfare is not the right language family well being, is the entire

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Jaquia Wilson: Picture. And that’s, that’s where these children come from. So we really need to work with those families and elevate them and empower them to be as great as they can be. So I’m super excited to learn from all the wonderful panelists that we have today here.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: Yeah, so should we go ahead and dive in.

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Jaquia Wilson: The yes

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: Get the show on the road.

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Jaquia Wilson: Introducing

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: All right, let’s move on. Okay, so I just wanted to remind everybody that the Institute for Family is sponsoring a three part webinar series on the

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: unlearning of child welfare and today is the second of those three webinar one, as we just talked a little bit about was about why we should create a child and family well being system.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: And today’s webinar will really focus on how some places are already taking up the work in different ways.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: So you’re going to hear both Colorado and Nebraska as examples of what they’re doing.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: Both of these states are a part of the thriving families safer children effort, which is a national commitment to well being, that

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: Really aims to move from traditional reactive child protection systems to those designed to support child and family well being and prevent child maltreatment and unnecessary.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: Family separations. And you heard about that at the last webinar but both of these examples are also a part of local efforts, the rewiring collaborative in Colorado and the bring up Nebraska initiative, you’ll hear about those

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: So today, you’re going to learn about early indicators of how we can begin to build a family well being approached from the ground up.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: You’ll also learn about some emerging family will being efforts across the country from one of our panelists.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: And so that is what today really is, it’s a conversation we intentionally wanted to have a dialogue will be a presentation and we want you to learn from the various perspectives about how to make this shift and to help us do that. We’re ready for the drum roll right to choir.

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Jaquia Wilson: On home.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: We have a great

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: Panel and I’m going to introduce them right now. We have with us, our fearless leader Matt Anderson, who is the director Institute for Family. We have Bobby Taylor, who is a strengthening families coordinator for the Nebraska children and families Foundation and the gym. CASEY young fellow,

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: We have Ned Breslin who is the CEO of the Tennyson center for children and also the founder of the statewide collaborative Paul rewiring

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: And then we also have Claire Anderson, who is a senior policy fellow at cheap and Hall.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: So we, we may I think some of you are expecting Suzanne. Sure, who’s the first lady of Nebraska. She’s listed as an attendee and we make

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: Have her here. We’re trying to figure out if she’s having technical difficulties, but if she joins, we will definitely stop and introduce her, but I want to welcome all of you and thank you for being here.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: So, okay. So now that you know who’s here. We want to start by asking you, the audience a question. So get your, your fingers and your keyboards ready. All right, so we want to take a quick poll. And this poll is

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: Is a yes or no poll. And the question is, are you actively involved in leading child welfare transformation efforts in your state.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: So it’s yes or no. And if you are dropping the chat. What you are working on specifically because it would just be great if we could get a sense of what you’re actually focusing on now. So I’m going to give you a couple of seconds to do that real quick.

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Jaquia Wilson: Hopefully, get a lot of yeses.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: I hope so. And if we don’t. Well, there’s some learning here, what can happen.

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Okay.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: So yes 57% of you are already involved in

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: Some type of efforts and it looks like

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: There’s a lot of effort to say family first prevention services act. It was implementation model.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: Implementation say families for children.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: I see Kansas is up to something. But it’s moving so fast. I can’t read it all so

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: Ray.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: You all are working on things, and I, I just want to thank you all for participating in that equation. How about we get moving with our panel.

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Jaquia Wilson: Yeah, as Sandra mentioned earlier, there are a lot of initiatives happening around the state to really help us learn and understand how we can

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Jaquia Wilson: Do this work a little bit better to service our families, we’ve mentioned a number of initiatives and now we want to get into it.

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Jaquia Wilson: Asking our panelists a little bit about what they’re doing. So I’m going to start with unit if that’s okay. And just X. Can you give a brief overview

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Jaquia Wilson: Of rewiring and bring them, Nebraska, like what are these initiatives and what exactly are you trying to accomplish, like, you know what, personally, motivated you to take on this work, so I know that’s a loaded question. But I know you have a lot to say. So I’m going to pass the mic to you.

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Ned Breslin: Well, thank you so much. It’s such an honor to be here. Um, what motivated me is I joined Tennyson, about three and a half, four years ago and

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Ned Breslin: We’re a pretty small but and traditional child welfare provider. We have residential program. We have a community based program, we have

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Ned Breslin: A day treatment program and you know great staff. Great, great program great history have been around since 1904 and all the kids that come here are amazing there.

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Ned Breslin: You know, it’s just with a kid who was in our residential program for a while he’s now in a foster family, but the school wouldn’t let him in. They thought he was too risky.

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Ned Breslin: And he’s nine and he’s upset about that and he is pounding away educationally because he’s going to prove to that school that he’s worthy.

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Ned Breslin: You know, and it’s shocking that a nine year old has to prove that they’re worthy.

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Ned Breslin: But what’s particularly galling about this is that even though he was in our residential program. If you look at his case history. The thing that

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Ned Breslin: makes me so sad is if someone had actually moved earlier he wouldn’t be a Tennyson.

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Ned Breslin: He wouldn’t he wouldn’t have been in a residential program. And while I’m thrilled to know him and I love them to death.

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Ned Breslin: Like, I wish I didn’t know I shouldn’t know and so that’s what drives me rewiring is a very simple idea and it basically says, and it frames the work in terms of impact and outcomes.

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Ned Breslin: And so it basically says the sector, child welfare, whether it’s state, local, national is spending an enormous amount of money buying terrible outcomes.

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Ned Breslin: And what we keep doing is trying to pound money different ways and add services in different ways. And we’re still getting

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Ned Breslin: Abysmal outcomes we’re still getting kids like the kid I talked about coming to Tennyson. The other thing that’s a galling about it is if you talk to any caseworker they will sit there and they will say,

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Ned Breslin: You know, I saw this family today and they’re in real trouble. But you know what, I can’t do anything. They haven’t met medical necessity or imminent risk.

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Ned Breslin: Qualifications I can’t figure out how to move funding and so I have to wait for them to fail. That’s immoral. That’s absolutely moral and so caseworkers have that story all over the country.

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Ned Breslin: And so rewrite rewiring basically said is, well, that’s nuts. What would you do if we actually eliminated the problems of

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Ned Breslin: medical necessity in imminent risk as a funding line and anything below it, you can move, but anything above it is kind of harder to move

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Ned Breslin: What if we said we’re going to buy different outcomes. So we’re going to buy. We’re going to invest programmatically financially. We’re going to invest to see if we could

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Ned Breslin: dramatically reduce the number of children and families who become child welfare involved and we’re going to see if we could get better results for the children who are child welfare.

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Ned Breslin: Because of that, and the rewiring part is to understand how money moves. So we can go to legislators and budget writers and say, move the money this way to buy these outcomes, instead of continuing to move the money this way and buying garbage outcomes.

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Ned Breslin: So we, it’s a we started it in Colorado and lot of heroes in this story, but it was co designed by this

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Ned Breslin: colleague of mine. Tiffany parent from the zone Foundation, a lot of people sit around and say, you know, like

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Ned Breslin: donors want to get involved in the design and everything. This is a perfect example of Tiffany

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Ned Breslin: Co designed it with us. She was so impactful that we actually convinced the donor to give her to us for three years, so that she could actually see the impact of her work.

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Ned Breslin: And then we went to the joint budget committee where another gifted magician, the budget analyst there Robin smart, who cares about kids more than anyone I know.

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Ned Breslin: Basically said let me see if I understand what you’re saying. You’re saying you’re going to use philanthropic dollars.

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Ned Breslin: To show how money moves differently to reduce the number of children and families becoming child welfare involved and get better results in the counties that we work with.

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Ned Breslin: I need you to work in these 10 counties. So we work we identified 10 counties across Colorado, east, west, north, south, Republican, Democrat high density low density

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Ned Breslin: Diverse not so diverse and she basically said, if you can show me that you can get better results moving money than I will help you.

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Ned Breslin: rewire the money. And so we started we did it a year ago, we started about a year ago, the 10 counties are unbelievable.

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Ned Breslin: And we basically said we’re not going to make you plan over plan and do a proposal and do all that stuff it’s iterative. What are the drivers in your county

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Ned Breslin: That are leading to child welfare involvement and so county sat back and they said, well, in our county. It might be

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Ned Breslin: Prenatal mom’s substance using who we don’t want to do that anymore and substance treatment programs aren’t solving the problem.

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Ned Breslin: Or it could be third graders fourth graders seventh graders 10th graders in our schools who are starting to struggle.

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Ned Breslin: So all these counties came up with these ideas of like if I had the ability to invest. I would go here, they’ve done five things across these 10 counties. They have built programs that reduce isolation.

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Ned Breslin: So they’ve invested in some crazy things. One of them. My favorite is called granny armies. It’s basically rural communities that are never going to have enough, social workers, but what do they have

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Ned Breslin: They have grandmothers and grandmothers are trusted and grandmothers have lost their sense of purpose and so we’re now matching grandmother’s

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Ned Breslin: With prenatal moms and they will stay with those moms till they’re five years old, to make sure to the kids. Five years old so that those kids don’t become child welfare involved.

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Ned Breslin: We have massively invested in basic needs housing transport child care all of that anyone who’s non teluk Tana eligible, but is

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Ned Breslin: Struggling and child welfare has seen them uh we’re we’re moving on that we have two counties Denver and Larimer who have identified the zip codes in their counties with the highest

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Ned Breslin: referrals. So instead, in those counties instead of going and saying your family’s got a problem and your family was referred you sit back and facilitate a Community level.

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Ned Breslin: Why are there so many referrals here and you finance local community based organizations who are trusted who are known. They don’t like tennis, and they don’t want to see tennis we’re investing in other organizations to do that amazing triage work and Douglas County real hats off to

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Ned Breslin: To the Douglas County team. One of the biggest drivers into child welfare our schools.

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Ned Breslin: And so what they’ve done is put a layer between the schools because when the schools don’t know what to do. They call DHS

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Ned Breslin: So they put a layer between the schools and said, call them first. And let’s see if they actually do need DHS or they should go somewhere else.

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Ned Breslin: And so covert is an effective that program, but when it started, you went from this many referrals to DHS to that many

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Ned Breslin: Because they were able to triage them and move them to other places DHS never saw that it was beautiful. Last thing is pre metal medical necessity and imminent risk work.

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Ned Breslin: So we’ve had organizations like Tennyson and sob you take in Douglas County there 2000 families that that Douglas County DHS sees they estimate 48% will be child welfare involved in two years. It’s 960

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Ned Breslin: Give us give us 2000 families. Let’s go work with them. And let’s see if instead of 960 families, we can get it down to 50 or 40 or 10

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Ned Breslin: We then frame, all of that work in terms of cost avoidance if they had become child welfare involved. What would that have cost. It’s $14,000 per case.

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Ned Breslin: How much are we saving by cutting the number of children, families and become child welfare involved after a year zero families that this program has worked with zero have become child welfare and that is telling

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Ned Breslin: The second part of rewiring is to say the we got to get better results in the system. And so, real quickly, what we’re doing is we jumped all over the QR tip work.

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Ned Breslin: We think the most brilliant part of FF PSA is the assessment link and we set up a program that said, Stop putting kids in residential

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Ned Breslin: Any kid that you’re worried about you can give you can put that kid in Tennyson for less than 30 days, but go find a family.

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Ned Breslin: Go find a family. And let’s not put them into Rez so we started with a pilot of six kids.

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Ned Breslin: For went to grant to kin to went to foster one went to foster to adopt and we built out this model that is going to save counties.

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Ned Breslin: It Denver County, if they just use this program, instead of using our residential program, they will save $380,000 a year. So then the question is, what do you want to do with that money.

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Ned Breslin: To get upstream to get fewer and fewer kids in. We’ve also been tracking just last thing, real quickly, we’ve been tracking

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Ned Breslin: spin off impacts. So we’ve seen a 95% reduction in police contacts. That’s a $75,000 savings. A YEAR WE SEEN A 98% reduction in hospitalizations. That’s a $297,000

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Ned Breslin: A year savings and so we’re now sitting with legislators and Medicaid and saying, move money this way.

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Ned Breslin: You will get these results liberate everyone and we can get to a better place. We do this in partnership with a couple of things that I’m really excited about.

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Ned Breslin: 10 counties, who are amazing. They are coordinating with public health, housing, other other institutions that they’ve never done before.

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Ned Breslin: We are thrilled with the Colorado partnership for thriving families. We are in complete sync coordination. That’s the program. You guys were talking about

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Ned Breslin: So what you have is this amazing coordination and support to build out this continuum and to build out a new world where kids and families are not child welfare seen and it generated so much excitement

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Ned Breslin: Because people are talking about it, to be honest and and it is exciting that five states in the children’s home Society of American network, North Carolina, Illinois, Florida, Mississippi, and Washington State have said we’re going to do rewiring to so

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Ned Breslin: liberate people from the financial and programmatic constraints do exactly what Sandra said in the beginning, do not

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Ned Breslin: constrain yourself to evidence based practices. It’s Linus blanket. There needed but it’s evidence plus

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Ned Breslin: And be driven by the outcome of fewer children and families in the child welfare system, calculate the costs and go to budget writers to join budget comedian superstars like Robin smart.

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Ned Breslin: Go to federal level and say stop buying bad outcomes. This way, invest this way, spread it create new building codes and you will stop the flood into child welfare.

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Wow.

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Ned Breslin: It’s so fun.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: Where’s the applause button.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: I don’t have them on on here but that’s right

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: And look who we have Suzanne shore, the first lady of Nebraska. We’re so happy you’re here, we, we figured you join us.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: Eventually, Suzanne, just by way of introduction is the first lady of Nebraska, but she’s also a major partner in the bring up Nebraska initiative. So what we’re going to go to you next right to acquire

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Jaquia Wilson: Yes, I just, I just love when it was saying. And I heard this common theme that we also heard on the first episode.

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Jaquia Wilson: About not just giving out services, but go into those communities those counties and asking them what they need and that is really powerful today. So I’m happy to for that. Suzanne, would you like to share a little bit about what you all are doing

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Susanne Shore: Sure, I’d love to, um,

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Susanne Shore: So I really don’t have a whole lot of time to explain how prevention became a priority for me or how I got involved with this work, but I’ll just say this that I

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Susanne Shore: Knew enough to actually asked my husband to run for governor in order to improve child welfare in our state that was 100% my motivation and I’ll just ended at that

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Susanne Shore: What came out of that was bring up Nebraska, which is a community based prevention program that focuses on keeping families together and as many kids as possible and safe and loving homes and with bring up Nebraska. The focus is local solutions.

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Susanne Shore: We’ve taken a really different approach where we no longer rely on that top down one size fits all system that we had here, where basically the state makes all the decisions.

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Susanne Shore: And just tells the local communities, how to solve their problems and instead the focus is on local communities because we really believe that they are the best situated and most motivated

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Susanne Shore: To understand their own strengths and their own needs and then the best to create the networks and solutions necessary there.

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Susanne Shore: So the core for bring up Nebraska is really that individual community and within that community, the collaborative

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Susanne Shore: Comes come together and they’re made up of nonprofit leaders and service providers, elected officials business owners healthcare providers, educators, law enforcement, are a big part of it.

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Susanne Shore: community and church leaders and, of course, parents and you

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Susanne Shore: And from the beginning. Each collaborative gets together and starts analyzing it specific issues problems and strengths based upon data.

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Susanne Shore: That’s provided by the Nebraska children and families foundation and Casey Family Foundation and that data is so important because that really drives what they’re going to work for

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Susanne Shore: So the collaborative start talking and everyone starts talking about what they’ve been doing because so many times. The folks were working in silos, not even knowing what other solutions are out there.

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Susanne Shore: And they start looking for gaps and overlaps and services and then they develop the network strategies and long term plans to work on those specific issues.

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Susanne Shore: Now, these could be on homelessness, the need for affordable housing some work on graduation rates or third grade reading levels, it could be for the need for quality childcare unemployment rates we don’t define or direct with those are the communities decide

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Susanne Shore: They’re just given their metrics in comparison to the rest of the state. And then they start solving those problems and then they start solving another problem. And another problem.

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Susanne Shore: And the state partners are there with them often sitting in the same meetings. And I won’t go into all the list of agencies, but basically it’s almost all of them.

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Susanne Shore: Not just HHS its state and federal foundations and organizations that provide technical and financial support its Nebraska children and families foundation that provides expertise data and resources.

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Susanne Shore: So everyone is sitting in there together and all of us are there to support those communities and sometimes we might provide expertise. Sometimes we might provide connections to other communities.

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Susanne Shore: That have helped already see and help them solve those problems or to a specific person and specific department who can help. And sometimes it’s with flexible dollars, either from the state or from private partners.

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Susanne Shore: And now we’re excited to be a part of the federal thriving families safe for children initiative.

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Susanne Shore: We are, we have found motivation inspiration and resources to really push the program into becoming more comprehensive into becoming a community well being system.

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Susanne Shore: That supports Family and Children with even more services and partners and addresses more systemic problems and what we’ve seen

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Susanne Shore: You know when I started this, I wasn’t exactly shooting for the moon. I just kind of wanted to make things better.

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Susanne Shore: And many of the issues that we’re working on. Can’t be measured in two years, because the communities are working on their own specific

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Susanne Shore: Strategies and solutions. But one thing I can say is that bring up Nebraska in its first two years is decreased their out of home their home removal rates.

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Susanne Shore: By 14% in two years and that’s no negative impact on the CFS are indicators.

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Susanne Shore: We have a long history of relying on removal from home as a chief tool in dealing with any kind of challenges that are going on within a family and we’re really starting to shift that and that’s

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Susanne Shore: That’s the communities. That’s because those communities are providing the prevention services to help families before they get involved in child welfare and juvenile justice.

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Susanne Shore: So as I’ve said, Bring up Nebraska and the collaborative are about community will being in order to care for kids and families, the value and benefits are astonishing be beyond just what I just said in

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Susanne Shore: The majority of our state experienced massive devastating flooding.

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Susanne Shore: And the collaborative where the groups that stepped up from the beginning with FEMA to manage those recovery efforts and their areas to the point that famous that they had never seen.

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Susanne Shore: Any kind of work like this before, but it’s because the collaborative is we’re already there working together.

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Susanne Shore: And now with coven again, the state has relied on them for information leadership and solutions and I just can’t overstate their impact.

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Susanne Shore: The work of the collaborative has helped the governor direct cares dollars it’s guided state leaders as we develop multiple task forces.

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Susanne Shore: That deal with systemic issues, including mental health, food security and housing and these are long term solutions. We really are building back better because of these collaborative

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Susanne Shore: It’s hard for me to believe that focusing on individuals and prevention is anything earth shattering or that it would be have such a positive impact on Nebraska.

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Susanne Shore: But it really it really has been hard to explain how important this work has been and I’m excited to be part of that thriving families safe for children initiative.

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Susanne Shore: Because now we can expand our work even more, and I hope that we can serve as an example, possibly a model.

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Susanne Shore: For what can be achieved throughout the US. And if nothing else, we’re here to spread the word that prevention works. And if you ever need anybody from Nebraska to help sell it.

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Susanne Shore: We’re here because we we can really talk talk about what’s what’s been achieved, so thanks for letting me be a part of this.

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Jaquia Wilson: Thank you so much for all that concrete information and those powerful numbers that need shared

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Jaquia Wilson: I’m just like I said hearing the same common theme around communities and putting them in the driver seat. It really watching them show up and stand out for

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Jaquia Wilson: Those families that are in their communities. And I’m just really excited. These are very concrete ways that all of our listeners can really

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Jaquia Wilson: See how we’re doing the work and how it’s showing a great impact. So with that, I want to go to miss Bobby and x, you know, can you talk about the site support teams.

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Jaquia Wilson: That you know you work with and the role of parent and family leadership, you know, why is it important that we co create with families in this work.

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Jaquia Wilson: A different system.

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Bobbi Taylor: Yeah, so we could go into further dialogue. I want to be kind of short and quick, and I really want to focus on the importance of including families and lived experience and I know this to be true that families and lived experience are the secret sauce.

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Bobbi Taylor: To creating a community well being system. I mean you got the mail, which is the base of the system. You can add catch up with which is the agencies and departments, you can add a little mustard.

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Bobbi Taylor: Which are community service providers, but it’s something about that secret seasoning.

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Bobbi Taylor: That really elevates the sauce and really transforms the dish, and I believe that families and lived experience are really that secret sauce.

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Bobbi Taylor: And so when we’re incorporating lived experience and families in a co creation space. It’s so important because they’re going to be able to lift up the systems or the symptoms of broken system.

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Bobbi Taylor: For example, they’re going to be able to provide a qualitative data that quantitative data is identifying and a very tangible thing that I can use as an example is housing.

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Bobbi Taylor: So, Nebraska, is it’s known that that there’s a housing crisis right now. But when you incorporate lived experience into those spaces. Those co creation spaces of identifying that housing.

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Bobbi Taylor: You’re going to get families that are going to come to the table and say, hey, listen, one of the barriers that we’re really experiencing right now.

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Bobbi Taylor: Is the application fees application fees can come from $35 to $50 and with the family with a very, very tight budget.

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Bobbi Taylor: It’s, it’s not really feasible to spend $200 on application fees. It just isn’t going to work.

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Bobbi Taylor: When you’re incorporating lived experience person from a foster care lens, they’re going to say, hey, we don’t have credit and we don’t have a family support system to really cosine to get into housing.

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Bobbi Taylor: We don’t have that support system and we’re not financially capable of doing that another role with the lived experiences really demonstrating equity and inclusion in those spaces.

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Bobbi Taylor: When you look at a Nebraska table where a lot of system leaders are

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Bobbi Taylor: There they may not be affected by the disparities that a lived experience person is and so lived experience can provide insight and perspective on those disparities, they’re going to be able to speak to

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Bobbi Taylor: You know, the, the disproportionate effects or marginalization or direct biases that they experience and through inclusion of those perspectives. That’s when we’re really going to elevate and be able to create a community well being system.

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Jaquia Wilson: Thank you. That was powerful. I think everyone is super excited about hearing from the secret sauce herself so that that really made me happy to know that I am also a part of the secret sauce. So thank you so much. Bobby, that was yeah very well spoken and so

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Jaquia Wilson: Sandra.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: I you know I love hearing the term secret sauce, but I wish it wasn’t such a secret because this is what’s needed it shouldn’t be a secret and and now that we know it’s

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: Now, now that we know about it. It’s no longer a secret. So we should all be using that. But I, I just love hearing the

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: About your leadership, all of you, the leadership roles that you’ve taken the vision and the coalition building you you’re really demonstrating that

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: The efforts, you’re already taking even early on, like for LEAD FOR YOU. IT’S BEEN FAIRLY EARLY bring up Nebraska has been going on a little bit longer but we’re not talking about 10 year initiatives, we’re talking about

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: Four years. Two years a year and you’re already seeing amazing results. And so we love hearing about that we’ve heard from Bobby about the role of youth and the secret sauce.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: And it sounds like you’re really working towards shifting your perspective from intervention and services to family resilience and concrete support to address conditions families face which

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: Was something that was raised at the last webinar. And, you know, just want to ask you all. What are those challenges.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: And risks and opportunities that you’ve had. And we’re also seeing a lot of questions in the chat about it was so could you speak to how your initiatives are working with indigenous communities and Suzanne, I’d love it if you could go first.

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Susanne Shore: Sure, sure. So I think some of the opportunity that some of the reasons that this has worked for us is that kind of all the stars were aligned for us that

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Susanne Shore: We had a naggy first lady who was willing to push the governor and the governor who had the insight to want to make this a priority. I can’t emphasize how important that has been making sure that this is

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Susanne Shore: Successful. But then we also had funders and foundation members who really wanted to see that kind of difference and have that vision.

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Susanne Shore: We’ve been the guinea pig. So hopefully, other people can point to us and we can be that role model. If you need other people to be inspired, whether it be your governor other foundations.

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Susanne Shore: Some of the challenges that we see is making sure that the sticks around long term, even after the next election for governor any kind of governmental change can always mean there’s a priority.

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Susanne Shore: Change and we wanted this into the system.

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Susanne Shore: That community sees the success and that it’s solidified, we also, you know, there’s also always the risk of emotions getting involved when

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Susanne Shore: For instance, we see horrific story about child deaths and all of a sudden, there’s a knee jerk reaction that people say, oh, the pendulum is gone too far.

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Susanne Shore: Towards prevention, but we need to be prepared for that and ready to explain that that’s a false choice and that prevention is a big tool that that needs to stay a part of our, our box.

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Susanne Shore: We need to for us. We need to expand more into businesses smaller community funders and foundations and also involve the judicial branch more and more governmental agencies, for instance, Department of Labor.

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Susanne Shore: When we go in and see a family is struggling to pay its bills. Don’t just help them pay the bills but then make sure that they get on the Department of Labor’s

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Susanne Shore: Radar so that they can get training and then as far as our Native American communities that’s been an ongoing challenge for us. And a lot of it has to do with needing to build the trust which we’ve been working hard to do.

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Susanne Shore: It starts with building that trust and understanding

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Susanne Shore: And for those outside of the community, understanding that we need to step back and not be the experts and I think we’ve been working hard to do that and thriving families initiative.

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Susanne Shore: Is really a huge opportunity for us because it we’re looking to priority prioritize that expansion into those tribal communities.

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Susanne Shore: And again, it’s making that investment. The support building the trust so hopefully within one year, the work that we’ve done I’ll be able to report back that we’ve seen even more success. Yeah, we’ll look forward to

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: That I think you’re spot on with trust and understanding of the just customizing the way communities. Want to have their own solutions and and us not imposing those values that might hold and Bobby. I’m curious, from your perspective, what you see

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Bobbi Taylor: As a challenge, you know, to be quite honest. I see a lot of challenges, but that comes at the foundational level of relationship building

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Bobbi Taylor: As we see lived experience being included and spaces. I feel like it’s kind of drifting towards a trend. There are amazing organizations.

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Bobbi Taylor: That really honor that power sharing and really honored that partnership.

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Bobbi Taylor: But as I just see in a lot of other different spaces lived experience becomes a check in the box.

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Bobbi Taylor: And I just have to be honest that that’s not how it’s going to work right. We really have to be intentional about those relationships that we’re building because that’s going to set the tone for the solutions that are going to be created.

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Bobbi Taylor: Another thing that I see as kind of a potential barrier is that systems leaders and systems in general really have to learn that that authoritative role that they have

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Bobbi Taylor: It’s really easy for them to set those agendas and find a lived experience person to

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Bobbi Taylor: Plug into that agenda to carry it forward or it’s another check in the box where they’re like, okay, we have lived experience. It doesn’t really match our agenda, but we’re going to push our agenda. Anyway, and we’re still going to just say like

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Bobbi Taylor: We have lived experience. So we’re saying, you know, we can be inclusive and that’s not how it’s going to work when communities and systems are implementing

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Bobbi Taylor: That inclusion space. I can’t stress enough how important it is to really center those relationships meeting people where they’re at, making sure that equitably paid and compensated.

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Bobbi Taylor: Understanding that you know if a if a parent has to find a babysitter.

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Bobbi Taylor: To contribute to a systems change, there may be a need for, you know, a child care payment right to help them and meet them where they’re at.

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Bobbi Taylor: They’re being very vulnerable and exposing some of their truths that are not easy to expose and so we have to honor that.

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Bobbi Taylor: In every other professional in that space is going to be paid to be there. So it’s important that we do that for them to. And that’s just a small example but I’m

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Bobbi Taylor: Again, I just have to stress the relationship building because communities with lived experience are just as important as other stakeholders in which you would spend a lot of time fostering those relationships.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: You know Bobby you as we introduced you we introduced you also as an MPC young fellow, and that means that you’re one of an advocate nationally for

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: youth who are transitioning out of foster care and one, just a quick plug for for people out there.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: That the initiative actually does measure authentic youth engagement twice a year to see how young people, if they feel like their voice was heard and and there are questions that can be shared that

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: As you’re building up these efforts, you can start to measure whether young people feel like they are being authentically engaged in their ideas are being taken up. So I just wanted to

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: Just share that and Claire, we want to get you in here. We know your role at shape and Hall, you have, you get the purview of the whole country and we’d love to hear your thoughts on challenges risk opportunities. Just what you’re seeing across the country.

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Clare Anderson: Sure, thanks so much Sandra and thanks everybody. I’m just delighted to be here. I’m going to try and tie together a few dots and connect them.

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Clare Anderson: Because what we are seeing at the national level, Sandra, is this real interest as states have deepened their planning and initial implementation of family first

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Clare Anderson: A real hunger to figure out how do I go further upstream into the prevention space and as thriving families safe for children and national commitment to well being movement.

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Clare Anderson: Is embarking on new dialogue with the states, I think there is, we’ve experienced a tremendous appetite for looking for ways to not just change the narrative.

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Clare Anderson: To change the perspective to change the constructs the relationships and the ways in which we engage with serve and are in service to

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Clare Anderson: communities and families. And so what I think Ned said states are looking for evidence. Plus, I really like that I wrote that down as we, as you were talking because I think States really are trying to figure that out and

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Clare Anderson: What I want to use my time to do is to connect that that plus what I think one component

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Clare Anderson: Of a family and child well being system can be addresses Bobby your statement that families have tight budgets.

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Clare Anderson: And when we listen to families about what they need. One of the first things that we hear our resources concrete resources.

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Clare Anderson: Fiscal economic resources. And so I just I want to highlight a few studies that are emerging right now that we didn’t have even five years ago that lead us to think about

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Clare Anderson: Economic supports for families in ways that I think we have not until now. So as you look at the amount of money.

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Clare Anderson: Needed to your comment. We’re spending a lot of money on a set of outcomes are spending somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 billion a year across federal and state funding streams to identify and

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Clare Anderson: Address and treat child maltreatment mostly predominantly in an after the fact, engagement with families, rather than in the prevention space. And as we think about

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Clare Anderson: Moving money there. There are various ways to do that. And I want to highlight a few policies that already exist. It’s not everything but it shows a pathway, I think.

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Clare Anderson: So the studies have I’m referencing show that if you provide even modest economic supports to families, you have a pretty significant reduction in child maltreatment and neglect and in engagement in child welfare and when I say modest I’m I mean modest

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Clare Anderson: The earned income tax credit.

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Clare Anderson: For states that have a state level EI TC and provide $1,000 is associated with up to a 10% reduction in Child Protective Services involvement for single mother families and with larger families. That’s not much

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Clare Anderson: In terms of resource movement. And that’s a state policy choice to have an local a state level. He ITC program or not.

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Clare Anderson: Minimum Wage if you if the State chooses to increase the minimum wage, even by $1 for every dollar estate raises the minimum wage, you get somewhere in the neighborhood of a little less

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Clare Anderson: Than a 10% reduction in neglect reports. And these are just a couple of examples and states that expanded Medicaid

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Clare Anderson: Also saw reductions in reports of neglect, particularly, and this is really important for kids under the age of six, so we have already in place pathways.

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Clare Anderson: Through which states can make policy decisions to resource families in ways that are important and meaningful.

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Clare Anderson: These aren’t the only pathways, we’ve got to find other pathways, but the power of this new evidence says that even for very small amounts of money.

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Clare Anderson: We can stabilize families and reduce neglect and reduce involvement with child welfare and I think that is incredibly powerful. So when we as a practice I practitioner.

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Clare Anderson: Look for for interventions with families. One of the first things that I should pull out of my tool kit is what are the economic supports that are available in my community.

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Clare Anderson: In my state and how do I get them to families and if there are not as many as I want. How do I advocate for a different, more robust set of economic and concrete supports for families. So I think what we are finding

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Clare Anderson: Is that it’s possible. Their, their new pathways that we’ve not thought about in in this context that I think that we could and should be

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Clare Anderson: And I think it’s all these are also pretty powerful race equity and social justice strategies, given our long term systematic deprivation of families of color and communities of color when it comes to economic resources.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: I just, I want you to know. You brought a lot of joy to the audience. The chat is on fire and

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: Asking for the the studies because I think people need the information we’re talking about a $30

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Clare Anderson: Billion $30 billion.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: $30 billion dollar industry and you’re talking about small amounts of money that families need that would provide them with a concrete supports to prevent further

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: Exposure to the system and. NET. I saw your head just shaking like you were in agreement. Yes, so

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: I want to go to you like talk to react to Claire. Talk to us about challenges and opportunities. Also, you know, there’s a lot of activity in the chat about it was

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: And there was a comment about how practices under if we’re about relationships and prevention should be the gold standard for practice and so like if you could cover sure around the way, that’d be great.

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Ned Breslin: Sure, let me do that one first. I think rewiring one of the counties chosen was specifically because of the large indigenous community.

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Ned Breslin: And as Suzanne said the first lady said that takes time and trust, but I think I think what’s interesting is also there’s an enormous indigenous community in Denver, Colorado.

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Ned Breslin: You know, and, and so we’re finding ways through community based organizations to to work with to support those community based organizations to work with them because, frankly, it is not our place we can

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Ned Breslin: Enable you know finance and support it, but we we we are not the key role player at all.

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Ned Breslin: And I think that’s good. I think a lot of the challenges you know a lot of people tend to focus externally. And I think those are all real I’d actually like to focus internally. I think there’s internal challenges to this and maybe some lessons from Tennyson. So first of all,

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Ned Breslin: It required a complete overhaul of our board to go here and I don’t think anyone should underestimate the importance of board leadership. If you’re going to make a move.

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Ned Breslin: That fundamentally threatens your historical business model, if you will. You got to have your board behind you and I have the greatest board. I’ve ever had in my life. I’m so blessed by that. Second thing is you have to sit back and kind of humble yourself.

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Ned Breslin: Tennyson does amazing work and we are really proud of it. But the fact is, is that children and families who have passed through Tennyson are also homeless incarcerated.

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Ned Breslin: Unfortunately, have died by suicide and we have to own that because we’re part of the problem we’re trying to change the system, but we’re also part of the problem.

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Ned Breslin: And so we have to have a much deeper sense of humility, as we work to not think that it’s everyone else’s problem. It’s our problem. Third is

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Ned Breslin: We are an organization that has deep racial challenges internally operating in a racial context and oppressive context and we have to own that as well and and I want to tell you that that is that is a really important step 84% of Coloradans are Caucasian white

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Ned Breslin: Less than 40% of the kids and families to come through Tennyson, or that so we that is outrageous and rewiring is really focused on stopping that

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Ned Breslin: As much as anything else. And that means to Bobby’s point is we have to find ways to invest in organizations that the child welfare sector never were never invested

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Ned Breslin: Right, we have to invest in community based organizations that are doing amazing work and are often unseen and unfortunate because they have bigger impact than us. We also have to look at ourselves to the children Tennyson of color are writing

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Ned Breslin: Bill of Rights, that is going to be presented to the entire organization in two weeks. And it’s strong. It’s really strong. We also have to deal with micro aggressions that I’ll just give you one.

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Ned Breslin: I you probably noticed on hand Z I’m passionate I am rewarded for that we have staff. Who’s, who’s performance reviews.

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Ned Breslin: Tell them that they’re two hands, either too emotional and all that stuff. So I’m rewarded and they’re told to tamp it down. That is outrageous. So we have to clean up our own act and get our act together if we’re going to actually

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: Change and that is that because there are people of color and your white man.

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Ned Breslin: Yes, absolutely. And so we have to walk into that messiness because we cannot change the system. If we can change ourselves.

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Ned Breslin: Last thing real quickly. I think the biggest lesson and challenge of rewiring and I want to shout out to real amazing people. Megan Vogel’s and Claire morrow.

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Ned Breslin: Rewiring is this amazingly ambitious program run by literally to people and what we’ve had to do as an organization is to stop thinking that every problem requires Tennyson.

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Ned Breslin: To build a program build a service build some sort of thing to solve the problem we have had to become facilitators that say we are actually many cases the worst option.

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Ned Breslin: For that solution. And so they have had to go to shift to facilitators and enablers of others and to push the boundaries beyond the traditional

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Ned Breslin: You know people that the sector invest in. So we just had a meeting recently.

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Ned Breslin: A woman from community based Latinx community based organization started crying, she said, no one’s even seen us before and you’ve invested in us and I promise you.

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Ned Breslin: That nobody from my community is going to become child welfare involved. That’s the kind of trust. And that’s the kind of courage, because organizations like Tennyson, if this works.

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Ned Breslin: We might not exist. Do we have the courage to go there and if we don’t stop playing stop playing

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Ned Breslin: We are building an organization that is infused with lived experience that is is empowering people that we don’t normally see. And we’re saying, prevention is a job. It’s based on

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Ned Breslin: On not strengthening families families have strong find their strengths and build on those stop thinking of them as a problem unleash them in new ways. And we won’t see them.

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Ned Breslin: And then I’ll sell this property. I’ll sell for what it’s worth, and donated because at the end of the day.

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Ned Breslin: There, you know, you see these pictures on my wall. These are from kids who’ve been through Tennyson. I want a blank wall on a blank wall and that’s only going to happen if we change. First, it’s not everybody else. We have to change. And I think that’s the biggest challenge at tennis.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: Well,

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: To choir, you know, I’ve never speechless.

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Jaquia Wilson: Have me. I’m very seldom but Jesus that just shook me to my core I am excited that we have had this conversation and dialogue and on such a good platform. Oh my gosh, Sandra. What, what do you think

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: Well, I think that I agree with some of the comments in the chat Ned for president is is one of the things I’m just, you know, I’m sitting with a lot of what all of the panelists are saying just the word that comes to mind is courage.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: And humility.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: Like being able to be humble and knowing that you don’t know and making sure that you’re

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: That I can. I don’t know how you said it but you said just don’t play like if you’re not if you’re not going to be in it. Just don’t just don’t play in it. Don’t these lives aren’t meant to be played with

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: Their families are strong. It’s us. It’s the problem. I just think that’s all very powerful. And I think we could just keep talking. Keep going right to qualia but it’s all we’re almost out of time.

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Jaquia Wilson: Yeah. Yes. And I think we have talked ourselves out of a job. So

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: But I do

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: I do want to just quickly say thank you to all of you for for what you’ve shared and offered, and I know there’s so much more

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: That you have to offer. But I want to turn to the audience because we want to get some audience feedback before we run out of time. And we’re going to put up a poll question. And this question really is around if if you were

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: To continue the unlearn Uber to continue the unlearning of child welfare as a series which, which of these ideas, would you want us to do so.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: There are, and you can check as many as you would like. So, would you like a closed Facebook group to continue the conversation.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: Follow up webinar series, similar to this, or we’ve been thinking about an invite only master class with leading experts, so like where we would have

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: Suzanne Ned Bobby Claire and you could have more interactive one on one with them.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: I know that they’ve offered to make themselves available, but this would be in a more organized way and then a podcast to hear more ideas and to learn more. So if you would please check as many as you’d like. That would be great. And I think we’re going to post those in just a second.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: And as we’re doing that, I would, I would just add that, if there are other ideas you have on how to continue these efforts, please put those in the chat as well. We’d love to hear that.

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Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez: And with that, I’m going to hand it over to our, the guy who got us all into this man Anderson for wrap up.

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Matt Anderson: Yes, thank you. And there’s really not much left to be said, I’ve just been in the background listening and this made my day maybe maybe my week, month and year two, I’m just leaving this conversation really inspired and grateful.

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Matt Anderson: Not just for the conversation, but for everything that each of you are doing that brought you to this conversation.

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Matt Anderson: You’re doing really, really important courageous work and you’re doing it for the right reasons on behalf of families and communities where you live.

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Matt Anderson: And I’m just, I’m inspired. And so I want to say thank you to to clay and Sandra for facilitating such a great conversation.

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Matt Anderson: It’s not easy to do and you both do it incredibly well. So thank you and Ned Suzanne Bobby Claire. Thanks for bringing your brilliance and wisdom and energy and the sauce and the next president and everything that you brought today.

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Matt Anderson: We can’t thank you enough. And to everybody that’s on you know thank you for being here. We’re just excited that you’re all coming and joining us for this conversation and

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Matt Anderson: The conversation is important, but the action is what matters. So I hope that everybody has taken something away from this that you can do in your work and your communities and

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Matt Anderson: We hope to come back for Episode three. So that’s next Thursday. We’re going to switch gears a little bit. We’re going to

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Matt Anderson: Actually have a conversation about as we continue this work of strengthening families. We still have a foster care system serving kids and families.

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Matt Anderson: And how are we going to make that the most equitable just experience that we can for kids and families and so

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Matt Anderson: That’s going to be the conversation. I think you’re going to get a lot out of it will have Associate Commissioner Jerry Milner coming on to that conversation as well as a couple parents with live expertise and

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Matt Anderson: We’re going to have new co hosts to choir will be with us, Sandra Thank you so much. We’re going to have Carrie Richmond from American Academy of Pediatrics and foster strong

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Matt Anderson: Come on, and CO host with chikwava so incredibly excited about next Thursday. You can share registration from our website with your colleagues.

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Matt Anderson: Institute for family.org and we are also posting more content to keep this conversation going on our social media so Institute for Family on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram,

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Matt Anderson: Twitter. So go there, you’ll see Ned already there, Toronto from last week. You can see her there perhaps somebody in the squares here today might show up as well.

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Matt Anderson: As our hope anyway. So I think, I think that’s it, we can wrap on that note, and everybody here. Thank you very much. And we’ll see you, a week from today.

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Jaquia Wilson: Thank you all.

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Bobbi Taylor: Did we drop off to do his thing.

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Matt Anderson: That’s always the question right any anything. Yeah, we could drop off. Thanks. Bye.

Episode 2 Panelists Bios

Susanne Shore has served as First Lady of Nebraska since January 2015 and has been directly involved in several important statewide initiatives. Most notably, Susanne has been an integral partner in the Bring Up Nebraska initiative. This initiative was recognized nationally with the Jim Casey Building Communities of Hope Award. Launched in 2017, the initiative strives to bring together public, business, nonprofit, philanthropic, and community partners to improve the safety and success of children and their families.

Ned Breslin is the President and CEO of the Tennyson Center for Children in Denver, Colorado. Ned’s work has now impacted over 30 million people globally by re-routing $2.5bn/year in government finance for better results and earned him a Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship in 2011. He comes to the child welfare sector humbly, with a passion to help children and families heal, stay together, and rewrite the awful narrative of child welfare travelers.

Bobbi Taylor is currently a Strengthening Families Coordinator at Nebraska Children and Families Foundation. She also serves as a Community Responder Consultant for Think Of Us. Bobbi is a Jim Casey Fellow and has been an Advocate for Child Welfare both in Nebraska and nationally. Additionally, Bobbi is pursuing a degree in sociology and is a mother to three incredible children.

Clare Anderson is a Senior Policy Fellow at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. Her work focuses on using research, policy, and fiscal levers to improve outcomes for vulnerable children, youth, and families, and the systems serving them. Clare engages state child welfare agencies, communities, stakeholders, and constituents in large-scale system change efforts.

Episode 2 Hosts Bios

Jaquia Wilson is an Advocate for Youth who have been in the child welfare system. She began vocalizing youth rights at age 15 when she was placed in congregate care. As an alumna of the child welfare system, Jaquia now supports youth in care as the Community Engagement Coordinator for Children’s Home Society of North Carolina’s SaySo program (Strong Able Youth Speaking Out).

Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez is the Vice President of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Center for Systems Innovation. In her role, Sandra oversees national and state reform efforts in three key areas: child welfare, young people transitioning into adulthood, and juvenile justice. Prior to assuming this role in 2018, she was Director of Casey’s Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative. This organization aims to equip young people leaving foster care with the relationships, resources, and opportunities needed to achieve well-being and success as they transition into adulthood. She is a graduate of the National Hispanic Leadership Institute and holds an Executive Leadership Certificate from Harvard University.

The Unlearning of Child Welfare, Episode 3: The Now

Episode 3 Transcript

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Jaquia Wilson: Okay. So good afternoon, good morning for some welcome and welcome back. I am excited to be joined by all of you.

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Jaquia Wilson: Welcome to all of our new attendees. I’m super excited. You can be here with us. Welcome back to all my repeat attenders

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Jaquia Wilson: This is the final episode in our three part webinar series and to those of you who have been in the conversation with us for episodes one

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Jaquia Wilson: And two, thank you for your comments, your strong ideas and your commitment honestly to unlearn in a few things with us. Yeah, so give yourselves a round of applause. We have made it

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Jaquia Wilson: For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Joe Wilson and I am an advocate for youth former alumni and a professional in the field.

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Jaquia Wilson: Here today with my wonderful co host fellow youth advocate and policy advisor miscarry Richmond so honored to be with her from American Academy of Pediatrics miscarried, and you want to say hi to everyone really quick.

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Keri Richmond: Allow everyone. Great to be here.

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Jaquia Wilson: Yay. Thank you so much as a wonder for thing to have you here with me. So before we dive in today’s purpose for the episode I want to reflect on some of the themes that we shared previously.

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Jaquia Wilson: Episode two was really inspiring. Honestly, I left feeling connected to the work that needs to be done and to really help my community and learn

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Jaquia Wilson: I felt enlightened by my peers in the field and we conducted a brief poll here at the Institute. We value and

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Jaquia Wilson: Like really want to know what you guys have to say. So we asked for your thoughts when we conducted the poll on how to communicate and and keep the communication flowing

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Jaquia Wilson: So that we can continue to have these conversations and 90% of you voted for more webinars like this, you guys wanted to hear from us and

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Jaquia Wilson: Have these conversations with us. So we were overjoyed by the poll results. And now we want to ask you guys in the chat to drop in some ideas of topics that you all

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Jaquia Wilson: would like us to discuss or what you guys would like to talk about in this space. And so while you guys share those ideas with us. I want to also do just a brief recap for our new audience. The people who have just joined us.

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Jaquia Wilson: So in episode one, well the Chaz is going, we, we wanted to know why. Why do we need to recreate a child welfare system and one that prioritises you know family well being.

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Jaquia Wilson: From Episode one I learned, honestly, why it’s important for us to understand the people we serve, and the conditions that families face.

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Jaquia Wilson: For episode two. Honestly, we focused on the how and I was blown away by the efforts taking place nationally, and I was really inspired by the strategies.

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Jaquia Wilson: Being used to reduce the number of children ever entering foster care. And now that we’re in episode three. I like to take a deeper dive on some of the conditions families face and the community around them.

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Jaquia Wilson: So we want to know, you know, how, how we can create a more just an equitable child welfare system for all

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Jaquia Wilson: And for all those youth who are removed. We know that foster here is not going to disappear overnight. Right. We know that we still have families and children to serve. So we still have a way to go. And we want to know how to better serve these families that these children come from.

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Jaquia Wilson: So Carrie. I love to hear your thoughts. Honestly, on the current systems climate and how you’re feeling today. I’m so glad you could be here with me to co host

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Keri Richmond: Ainsley qualia. It’s so good to co host with you. And as I mentioned, I’m also an advocate in the space.

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Keri Richmond: With the American Academy of Pediatrics as the manager of child welfare policy.

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Keri Richmond: And also lead a startup organization called foster strong whose mission is to rewrite the narrative and foster care, using our own experience, all of us in our organization were

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Keri Richmond: alumni of foster care and really hoping to shed a light on the triumphs that comes after time trauma.

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Keri Richmond: And so, as someone who is also experienced foster care. It’s really exciting to be here with quiet today. And one of the things that we have been talking about a lot, leading up to this event is that

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Keri Richmond: There’s a shift in the power dynamics that are happening, and that it’s really refreshing to be asked to co host and lead the discussion here.

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Keri Richmond: Instead of being just another see on the panel asked to speak about our trauma and for me, that feels like a really significant step forward for leveling out what equity looks like within our system. So, Julia would love to hear your thoughts on that from to

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Jaquia Wilson: Honestly, I just feel like I cannot tell you how many times we have been invited to the conversation and just giving them like an access share our experiences.

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Jaquia Wilson: And not really given the power to change and be a part of that conversation in that way. So I wholeheartedly agree with you, and I’m super excited that we have this platform and this ability as former alumni of the system to share and be in this space together.

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Keri Richmond: Yeah. As we dive into this conversation about what does it look like to create a just an equitable fist on this idea that has come up a lot leading up to this event.

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Keri Richmond: Is not often times you hear people who are advocating saying

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Keri Richmond: We need former foster he has to have a seat at the table. We need birth parents to have a seat at the table. We need foster parents to have a seat at the table but truly the table would not exist if it weren’t for our kids and our youth.

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Keri Richmond: And so when we’re thinking about how do we really prioritize their well being. Well, it’s so closely hinges on their attachments to the adults around them, their family who they who they

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Keri Richmond: See, as somebody who is caring and consistent and reliable and so when we’re thinking about how we prioritize our well being. We really have to be

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Keri Richmond: Having more seats at the table, we have to build a longer table that encompasses the entire village that it takes to raise a child.

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Keri Richmond: So we’re really excited about where we’re going with this discussion and you know 2020 has been

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Keri Richmond: Quite a year, but it has also been such a great opportunity for us to reflect and to truly unlearn alive. So that’s really what we’re here to do today. So do qualia. Should we get started with our question of an audience.

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Jaquia Wilson: Yes, I would love to just pick a few you guys is bring an axial our poll question.

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Jaquia Wilson: So it’s going to pop up on the screen here shortly. How would you rate how just an equitable our current child welfare system is for our children and families just it’s a scale of one not very to five very

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Jaquia Wilson: And I just want you guys to take a minute and just think about, you know, the things that we’ve talked about in episode one and two and the conditions and even the, the things that Carrie shared and touched on about community and how it takes

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Jaquia Wilson: A sense of that to really produce a good experience for the families that we we serve. And so I’m going to take a moment to check the what the results are like

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Jaquia Wilson: And so as we, as we see is not very Justin equitable. This is from what you guys are telling us, and so 42% of you all are saying no, it’s not.

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Jaquia Wilson: And so I asked you guys to just take a moment and share in the chat. You know what, what are you doing to make foster care, a better experience for kids and families.

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Jaquia Wilson: Share your practices. Share your best practices and your resources with one another. And while we do that, I’d like to pass it to carry to introduce our panelists for today.

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Keri Richmond: Great. Well, we have an amazing panel lined up here, really excited for you all to meet them, some of them are returning that’s for this on learning series.

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Keri Richmond: Beginning with Rhonda Sullivan us, who is the public policy director at the children’s homes Society of Washington.

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Keri Richmond: Jessica, Chris, who is a licensed foster parent who you should have seen her amazing video about her own journey and her and her husband story.

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Keri Richmond: About really standing for families and reunification and what that looks like.

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Keri Richmond: We have our fearless leader Matt Anderson, who is truly the reason that we are all here today. And last but certainly not least, we have Jerry Milner, who is the Associate Commissioner at the Children’s Bureau, what a lineup and so excited to dive in to quiet, are we ready

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Jaquia Wilson: Yes, yes. So before we get started, I just want to kind of focus my attention a little bit to the chat, because it is going crazy right now.

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Jaquia Wilson: I’m seeing a lot of ways that you guys are telling us that you’re doing the work within our own communities and

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Jaquia Wilson: Some of the practices that you are doing one thing that stuck out to me was normalization. And I know speaking from my own experience. That’s one of the big key things to

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Jaquia Wilson: To experience in separation and trauma. We don’t normalize, you know, the things that families go through and the situation or the circumstances that lead them to these

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Jaquia Wilson: In Episode one I remember sharing a bit of my family struggle to communicate and at the time that I into foster care. Prior to Mr movil I was in kinship care with a sibling.

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Jaquia Wilson: And neither of us really had the support you know that we needed to be a stronger family unit.

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Jaquia Wilson: The service that was provided instead was enforced in like even less communication, you know, between us and all the middleman and women in between us really dating can contribute

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Jaquia Wilson: To me having a successful relationship even after care. And so when we’re talking about normalizing and stuff. I really like to hear from the panelists.

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Jaquia Wilson: You know what would a more just an equitable experience look like for kids and families, Miss Rhonda. I love to hear your thoughts on, you know, what do we need to unlearn to get there.

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Shrounda Selivanoff: Thank you so much, declare and thank you for the opportunity to be on this platform with others. Um, first of all, I just want to say out

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Shrounda Selivanoff: To everyone I wear so many hats. It’s difficult to differentiate where I’m coming from and and some may know and some may not know, I’m actually a kinship caregiver. Also, and I’ve been caring for my grandson since birth and and I’ve had a very, very unique experience wearing that hat.

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Shrounda Selivanoff: I want to just kind of go back and first of all, just say if we can acknowledge what is happening and child welfare. We can’t change it.

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Shrounda Selivanoff: And we have a way of saying things so that it’s palpable. But I really want to be bold and brave in this space and say that the system and its current framework.

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Shrounda Selivanoff: Is racist and it is a hard thing to say out loud. I think people get incredibly uncomfortable hearing such a term and extremely want to defend it.

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Shrounda Selivanoff: Which in itself denotes that there is something wrong and and I think that we have to be bold and brave and say there’s something incredibly wrong with the way that child welfare operates.

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Shrounda Selivanoff: And it targets families in a way that leaves them absolutely devastated from the consequences of being involved. And so one of the things when I’m looking at an equitable experiences is acknowledging that it that there’s inequities that are happening.

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Shrounda Selivanoff: As a kinship caregiver. I had a profound experience recently and and I didn’t even know what was happening at the time but but I’ve had some time to process and kind of get to the other side. And so, living in America and recognizing that

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Shrounda Selivanoff: There are outcomes that are predominantly on assigned to certain air to certain demographics and

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Shrounda Selivanoff: And I was thinking about my son who’s currently experiencing some adversity on caring for his child and I was on this panel and this woman started to talk about a kinship experience.

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Shrounda Selivanoff: And I had to pull myself off of camera because I was so consumed with emotions. It was a first time someone has started to articulate what it’s like to be a kinship.

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Shrounda Selivanoff: In this system, while I watch my son navigate other systems that you know in some respects data says he was destined to get there. I want to just talk about

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Shrounda Selivanoff: what it feels like to be a kinship and the lack of support and understanding of what actually happened. We have a lot of messaging and the messaging is we want to get kids to Ken

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Shrounda Selivanoff: But the resources in the funding. Do not say that it says, here’s your child you guys figure it out. And in the punitive nature of child welfare at sometimes I feel penalized. And I feel penalized in a way

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Shrounda Selivanoff: That is difficult to articulate because there’s a place that says you’re deserving of what’s happening to you in this moment like you’ve played a part in it.

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Shrounda Selivanoff: And while I certainly have played a part in it. I haven’t played all the parts in it. And as I get more educated and I get more understanding of what the

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Shrounda Selivanoff: complexities and the drivers that actually get people to some type of future that they didn’t necessarily want for themselves. I’m confronted with

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Shrounda Selivanoff: The guilt. The shame the isolation. The completely feeling alone and then wanting and needing to step up.

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Shrounda Selivanoff: So when I’m talking about those equitable experiences for families. I can tell you as as that kinship caregivers.

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Shrounda Selivanoff: Really need support right they take on a large percentage of children and here in Washington State 43% of families or with kinship and currently

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Shrounda Selivanoff: You know, lower percentage is receiving the types of subsidies that foster care parents get

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Shrounda Selivanoff: And so one of the things I like to see is equity in the way that we support families that if they find themselves in child welfare.

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Shrounda Selivanoff: How are we supporting those members so that they can keep their family members close but also recognize they’re having an experience.

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Shrounda Selivanoff: I never wanted a grandson and child welfare. I never want it myself in child welfare and the idea that I would be deserving or that I, you know, wanted any of this.

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Shrounda Selivanoff: really speaks to the way that we see and treat families of color, my heart is is connected to my child is your heart is connected to your, your child.

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Shrounda Selivanoff: And I think the more that we get a commonality and get some compassion and understanding for what is happening for families, the more that we will actually be able to do something that actually creates an equitable in a

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Shrounda Selivanoff: Experience that that says you matter, you know, we understand families are complex.

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Shrounda Selivanoff: We understand that your heart would not want this for your child because we wouldn’t want this for for your I wouldn’t want this for my child.

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Shrounda Selivanoff: And in an effort of that commonality and camaraderie. We will honor your experience by giving you exactly what we give someone else.

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Shrounda Selivanoff: And and and help you to process and walk through this with some grace and dignity, instead of some shame and blame and guilt.

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Shrounda Selivanoff: And I don’t think that a lot of times we recognize that kinship caregivers carry their own burdens in this and that, as members of society, we should be

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Shrounda Selivanoff: Coming around folks and not placing them on an island and making them feel like they’ve done something

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Shrounda Selivanoff: That that that’s lacking because all we are just human beings having a human experience, which means there’s a variety and a difference of the way we show up and what we experienced, but at the same

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Shrounda Selivanoff: At the end of the day, our core beliefs in our emotions and feelings are universal and I think the more that we can start to approach this work from understanding that is the way to start to to create an equitable experience for families. Wow.

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Jaquia Wilson: Thank you so much for that. Sean and I really agree strongly, we need to recognize the experience that our families and our kinship providers are facing and we need to serve them with compassion.

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Jaquia Wilson: And understanding of their situations and really meet them where we are so that we can better serve. Thank you for that. I think the chat agrees and the

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Jaquia Wilson: Participants in the audience are in agreements with what you’re saying. And yeah, so can we hear some more thoughts on that from our other panelists.

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Jessica Crisp: Yeah, I’m excited.

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Jessica Crisp: To jump in and I appreciate everything that has been shared and just feel so strongly the level of empathy needs to be there in general to help our entire system. And I know that I’m sharing from a slightly different perspective.

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Jessica Crisp: As a foster parent coming into this instead of kinship care. But part of what I noticed during our year and five months of having a child in our care that was

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Jessica Crisp: A unified part of what I saw was just the importance of the all my own and learning process that I needed to do. And all of this. So,

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Jessica Crisp: I think all of us have to look at our roles within this entire process and say,

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Jessica Crisp: Let’s do a quick self assessment. What am I, honestly, bringing to the table here. And what do I truly have the child and the family’s best interest at heart.

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Jessica Crisp: And I think when I went into this process as a foster parent my desire was honestly to grow my family was to prove to others that I would have the ability to

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Jessica Crisp: Provide for a child who is in care who comes into our home and and so my desire wasn’t truly focused on reunification, it seemed

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Jessica Crisp: Even locally that the climate was reunification is the goal.

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Jessica Crisp: But we don’t know if that’s going to happen. That’s kind of how things were stated, but really what we’ve got to do with all of these families experiencing this hardship.

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Jessica Crisp: Is to try to see things from their perspective. Let the walls come down and join with them as a support system. I think we truly have to

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Jessica Crisp: Embrace shared parenting and I think some of us can throw around that phrase, at times, because it’s just

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Jessica Crisp: Something that we say within the systems that share parenting like it’s this concept, but really living that out, make

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Jessica Crisp: The biggest difference for the family and especially for the child and care and for their overall trajectory for what their future looks like.

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Jessica Crisp: We had an incredible opportunity to build a relationship with with our

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Jessica Crisp: With a child and care London and with her family. And over time, we built trust. But honestly, it was hard in the beginning we were all defensive. We were all

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Jessica Crisp: unsure of how this was supposed to work. And we felt afraid to communicate. And what we found was that it was best for our little one, the more that

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Jessica Crisp: We as foster parents could engage and support her parents and not just her parents, but her grandparents or aunts or uncles. We all became this one unit over time.

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Jessica Crisp: And the way that we were successful was by truly humbling ourselves and making ourselves vulnerable and I feel like that is so hard to do in this climate.

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Jessica Crisp: But anything we can do to show a little bit of vulnerability to show we truly are human and we can really impact.

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Jessica Crisp: Others and make a difference in someone else’s life versus what my agenda is so I feel like when we can shift towards that reunification, we share the same goal.

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Jessica Crisp: Then it’s not that we’re two separate families, the foster family and the child family loving the child or working together for the child is that we’re really one unit that can work in such a cohesive way and that long term will impact everyone that’s involved.

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Jaquia Wilson: Well,

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Jaquia Wilson: Thank you for those thoughts. I know that that must have been a hard in a very unlearning process for you and your family to come into this stick in

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Jaquia Wilson: Things are one way and then to have to unlearn that process for what’s best for the child. And that’s the kind of village that we’re talking about when we say that we need a community and a longer table for our youth and caring for our families.

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Jaquia Wilson: Who makes reigns this and you touched on something even talking about Reagan, you know, reunification is the plan, but that may not happen and it just really speaks to you know that

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Jaquia Wilson: Almost unsaid that this family is deserving of this idea and we need to really work to unlearn that and to come together as a community. So I want to. I’m really interested to hear also what our

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Jaquia Wilson: fellow panelists. Mr. Miller has to say about this topic. He’s been a leader in this conversation as well.

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Jerry Milner: You see if I can. Am I actually off of mute there.

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Jerry Milner: Yeah okay well yeah I let me just say very quickly what a pleasure it is to be on this particular panel. Every one of you who

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Jerry Milner: Are talking, it is I see so many familiar names popping up on the chat. I just want you to know. You inspire me every, every single day and it’s it’s it’s a true pleasure here, you know, the whole idea of creating a more just and equitable experience.

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Jerry Milner: Is what our mission. It’s been in the Children’s Bureau for almost, almost four years now we want to create the kind of a system out there.

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Jerry Milner: Where we have supportive community based environments where family kids can get essential needs met. Sometimes these are basic concrete needs.

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Jerry Milner: Rather than clinical interventions before a call to the child welfare hotline is is even necessary and where families don’t perceive the threat of losing their kids if they reveal their vulnerabilities and actually ask

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Jerry Milner: For help. I think a more just an equitable experience would would include enforcement of so many of the protections that are already on the books out there like reasonable efforts to prevent removals and

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Jerry Milner: Seeking out and using the voices of the families and the youth that our system is supposed

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Jerry Milner: To to benefit and as Jessica has already pointed out, I’m more just an equitable system would would look like having our foster care system, serving as a support to entire families, not just a substitute

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Jerry Milner: For families and likes Yolanda has mentioned supporting kinship families with the same level of supports as unrelated.

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Jerry Milner: caretakers out there. I love the concept of what do we have to unlearn because almost every conversation that I have with somebody about transforming our child welfare system.

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Jerry Milner: leads me back to the fact that often we aren’t even talking about beginning the conversation from the same perspectives there because we haven’t begun to think more broadly than what we know about our current system.

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Jerry Milner: One of the things that I think we absolutely have to unlearn as the child welfare agency is that we always know best.

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Jerry Milner: Quite honestly, we don’t always know best families are the experts on their needs and their circumstances youth are the experts on what their experiences have been and their needs.

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Jerry Milner: And we have to get to the place where we exercise the humility of understanding that we’ve not walk in someone else’s shoes or experienced

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Jerry Milner: Their trauma or their day to day struggles and they have that we can learn from the people that that we that we serve. Another thing that we have to unlearn is that it always has to be complicated.

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Jerry Milner: You know we we we create more funding opportunities and more programs out there, but we also create them with more and more restrictions on how many people can be served. How deep in crisis, you must be before you can benefit.

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Jerry Milner: The amount to the dosage of those of those services. It doesn’t have to be so complicated. It can be as simple

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Jerry Milner: As creating those conditions out there where families can receive kindness from people in their own communities. People who know them, people who care about them. The kind of kindness that can

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Jerry Milner: That can help a family to avoid the crisis that often leads them to the child welfare door. I think from a leadership position in the federal government. We have to unlearn

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Jerry Milner: That we cannot trust communities.

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Jerry Milner: With flexible funding and with flexibility in our rules and regulations, we have to learn that communities in fact know their families, better than we can know them in Washington DC or in our state capitals.

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Jerry Milner: Or where or wherever, and we have to learn to trust them to be able to meet those needs. I think we have to unlearn quite honestly that

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Jerry Milner: Prevention is somebody else’s business, a nice thing to do and that it’s not really the business of the child welfare system prevention has to be

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Jerry Milner: The business of all of us, if we want to change the experiences of families of children and youth.

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Jerry Milner: We have to learn that it has to be our business. We also have to unlearn that physical safety alone is simply not good enough.

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Jerry Milner: Every one of us needs well being and we can be safe, without achieving well being. And if we want to break some of those very difficult historical intergenerational patterns of trauma.

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Jerry Milner: Disruption that our families experience over and over again, we have to begin as a system to get serious about addressing the well being of both the parents and the children. I think we have to unlearn

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Jerry Milner: Building on Jessica’s remarks that that foster families are merely there to serve the agency’s wishes and to follow the rules that that we’ve created and learn

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Jerry Milner: To treat our foster families and our kinship caregivers, with respect, and it’s a resource for entire families.

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Jerry Milner: Needing support and help. And the last thing I want to say that I think we have to unlearn is that we have to unlearn that parents are the enemy.

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Jerry Milner: Even if they have made some difficult decisions, some bad decisions or even if they’ve taken some bad turns

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Jerry Milner: In life, and we have to learn that families parents are our best hope for ensuring the well being, not only up their families, but of their children. And I think we have to look no further.

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Jerry Milner: If we want to bring this into into focus right now than the very widely publicized widespread fears that are out there right now in the media.

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Jerry Milner: That the pandemic is leading countless children to be abused by their bad parents while they’re at home, and we don’t have other people mandated reporters.

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Jerry Milner: Looking over them. That’s a real reflection of our values in it’s quite revealing and how we view parents who are vulnerable parents in our society, we have to begin to unlearn

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Jaquia Wilson: Okay.

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Jaquia Wilson: Wow, those are some really inspiring thoughts and some really concrete ways that we can unlearn

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Jaquia Wilson: What it is that we practice in today’s current child welfare state, Matt. Would you like to add any additional comments to what I was to Milner and other panelists have shared

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Matt Anderson: Yeah no absolutely love to. And thank you all. I mean, I’m just soaking it all in here both what you all have to say and what we’re hearing from everybody in the in the chat and

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Matt Anderson: I think I think Shonda, maybe you said brave spaces and courageous spaces, and I think we have to have spaces like this right now.

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Matt Anderson: So I hope we’re all finding ways to create spaces like this and our own communities and our own states and our own organizations to have difficult conversations about

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Matt Anderson: Kind of the state of affairs, and what do we really want for kids and families. What do we really want for communities, a lot of

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Matt Anderson: You know, kind of leaning into the tough conversations comments here in the chat. And I think we all need to do that and

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Matt Anderson: You know I’m inspired by this conversation. And, you know, most, most of you on this, on this, on this webinar don’t know me.

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Matt Anderson: At all. And you’re just getting introduced to me as the director of the Institute for Family and and I am but I’m also i also serve in a program leadership role at the Children’s Home society where the institute is housed.

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Matt Anderson: And so I’m in kind of an interesting seat in this conversation because for the last five years, I’ve been leading our foster care program.

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Matt Anderson: And I’ve learned and unlearned quite a bit over that period of time and

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Matt Anderson: This is a really, really important conversation for me just personally as somebody that’s that’s responsible for a program that serving kids in foster care.

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Matt Anderson: And their and their families. And so we serve about 1200 kids a year across our program. And I think you know what I’ve come to realize that, for me and for our program our organization, what we need to unlearn is actually what our job is

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Matt Anderson: We really need to think seriously about what our job is as foster care, child welfare providers and what are we trying to, what are we trying to do what questions are we asking ourselves, are we asking ourselves, how do we get better.

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Matt Anderson: As an organization and as a program we are you all met Claire Anderson last week and from shape and Hall and we asked her to help us get better.

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Matt Anderson: And and she did that with a number of other stakeholders, but I think we should be asking ourselves why do we exist.

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Matt Anderson: As an organization as a program when it comes to families and what families need from us. We need to ask ourselves why we exist.

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Matt Anderson: And so in our, in our, in our program team when we get together and talk, you know, oftentimes, you know, we talked about, we are not in in the service of foster care. We don’t exist for the purpose of foster care.

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Matt Anderson: And foster care is a thing that’s happening right now. And it’s a necessary role that many of us are playing, but our job needs to be to get kids out of foster care as quickly and safely as possible.

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Matt Anderson: And right now, I think, you know, I’m seeing a lot in the chat about funding, you know, funding restrictions and that sort of thing. And that’s true.

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Matt Anderson: You know, our, our funding system is set up right now to pay for foster care. So we have to really be working against the tide right now.

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Matt Anderson: And so I was, you know, really excited to hear what Ned and the folks in Colorado, Nebraska, had to had to share with us about how they’re trying to really impact on the funding structures.

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Matt Anderson: And, you know, create opportunities to serve the needs of families and community to prevent foster care in the first place.

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Matt Anderson: And that’s what we need to be doing. I mean, we need to be preventing foster care in the first place. But when we think about the foster care system as it is today.

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Matt Anderson: We need to be incredibly focused on what we’ve just been hearing about kinship and reunification.

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Matt Anderson: You know as kids come into the system for for the purpose of child protection and keeping kids safe, then we need to be focused on placing with families and focused on reunification.

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Matt Anderson: And so for me, that’s an unlearning of of what my job actually is and what we’re actually, you know, supposed to be doing in this in this work and so

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Matt Anderson: I’ll share that thought as as what I what I’m trying to unlearn right now.

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Jaquia Wilson: Wow.

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Jaquia Wilson: I know that must be great to do an organization that supports and really centers around family well being and support.

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Jaquia Wilson: So Carrie, did you have anything that you’d like to add or any comments from just hearing our wonderful panelists share some from their perspectives with some of the things that they need to unlearn to make this a more Justin equitable

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Jaquia Wilson: System for all

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Keri Richmond: Yeah, I mean so much good stuff in there and some of the themes that really stood out to me and just hearing those powerful answers was embracing vulnerability

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Keri Richmond: Like humility and how important it is to humble ourselves and do the work of

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Keri Richmond: On learning, which isn’t always easy on and then that idea that that Shonda talked about in terms of shame and how we have to stop shaming.

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Keri Richmond: And I think as we have this conversation. And, you know, with 2020 being such

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Keri Richmond: A perfect year for reflecting on the ways that we may have contributed to a harmful system and that it is important for us to be accountable to that but that it is not a moment of shaming.

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Keri Richmond: But it’s a moment of opportunity than just like my Angela says that when you know better you do better. And so I hope that as we’re all sitting here today, thinking about what we have to unlearn

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Keri Richmond: That we are seeing this as a path to stepping forward into being better into really standing as champions for all children and families and really prioritizing family well being. So

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Keri Richmond: With those reflections. I’m curious to hear from our panelists, how you all think that we create a more Justin equitable experience for children and families. And what’s the role of

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Keri Richmond: The youth parent and family leadership and creating that experience. So, what, what are our action steps there and

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Keri Richmond: And try and I love what is on your side. On the first webinar that you always take us to church and he always preach a message. So I’m going to hand it over to you and let you take the podium to preach

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Shrounda Selivanoff: Well, first of all, I’m just going to tell you. I just tell the truth. If it resonates for you and touches your soul in a profound way. I couldn’t be happier.

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Shrounda Selivanoff: But my truth is what I’ve lived in. And what I know and i think why it feels like we’re going to church because it’s universal. There’s nothing that separates us. I think a lot of times we we put those things between us.

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Shrounda Selivanoff: We’re here to serve one another. And I think we really need to get clear about that. Right. I’m not here for me. I’m here for you.

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Shrounda Selivanoff: And I think that the more that we connect to that the more that we can actually change things I want to just take a moment and give a shout out to Jerry Milner, and David Kelly and

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Shrounda Selivanoff: And I remember a few years ago I came across these two and and i was full with nerves and what I watched in live In Living Color were these two high level.

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Shrounda Selivanoff: Individuals that conceded space and conceded power and they opened up the space so that apparent who had nothing but shame and thought little of who and what she could offer

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Shrounda Selivanoff: That they created a space. It said, you have the most offer and how empowering and healing and life changing that has been

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Shrounda Selivanoff: You know, as I tell you about that kinship piece, right. I don’t want you to think that my grandson needed a placement. And I was like, absolutely. I’m all about taking in a newborn at 47

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Shrounda Selivanoff: It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life was to take my grandchild because I knew what it actually required and I had to ask myself if I could do that.

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Shrounda Selivanoff: What was clear to me was that I had a community around me that was going to walk with me and at some points that community carried me because I was so overwhelmed and exhausted.

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Shrounda Selivanoff: As we create space for families. We have to be able to open up and recognize that each one of them has a need

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Shrounda Selivanoff: And are we willing to actually answer that. So as we can see space and we

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Shrounda Selivanoff: Share power and we have a collective understanding what I think happens is is we build a community so that people can do things that they didn’t even think are possible. I think that as we continuously concede that space and i and i excuse me concede that power.

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Shrounda Selivanoff: And I actually want to just say it’s shared right it’s a space where each one of us comes with something to give. And we’re here to learn and grow with one another.

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Shrounda Selivanoff: I think that the more that we recognize and I think earlier. Someone said you know we we don’t know what’s best for families.

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Shrounda Selivanoff: Man, I need the same thing you do. Right. I need food I need wheels. I need some money in my pocket right I need shelter. Like, that’s just universal

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Shrounda Selivanoff: As we start to create that equitable experience, right, we’ve got to actually be able to afford those things to write that are universal for each one of us.

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Shrounda Selivanoff: And if someone doesn’t have those things. How are we getting them to those things. I think the way that some of these systems are set up is we have the bare necessities as rewards right food is not a reward. It’s essential housing is not a reward. It’s essential

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Shrounda Selivanoff: The more that you bring the youth, the parent in any person that has an experience to the table what you’re actually saying to them in that moment is is I value you

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Shrounda Selivanoff: Right I value you are worth it. You are equal. You have something to offer here and your voice needs to be here because I don’t know how you know more about my life than I do.

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Shrounda Selivanoff: I live in it. Right. Like I live in it. So we have got to create the space so that people that are having the experience

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Shrounda Selivanoff: Not only are they telling you about it, but you’re taking that information and you’re doing something with it.

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Shrounda Selivanoff: Right. You’ve got to take that space. You’ve got to include people in it. You have to be able to take the information drive that back into the community so that you can be responsive to the needs of what people said

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Shrounda Selivanoff: But once again, I don’t think that this is rocket science. I think at the core of this is, it becomes down to deserving and undeserving

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Shrounda Selivanoff: And I think that we are founded on a nation that has separated us and that it is prime time

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Shrounda Selivanoff: Prime time for us to do something different. If you look at anything in the 1800s. I’m going to tell you what

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Shrounda Selivanoff: None of those things exist because we have advanced as a species. Right. And we have taken that learning and we have continued to event and innovate.

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Shrounda Selivanoff: Love care and compassion was foundational in 1800s and its foundational and 2020 please let your actions drive that and know that none of this has changed.

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Shrounda Selivanoff: Right. The problem is we’re not changing. We have too much information for us not to. So it becomes deliberate and I hope that each one of us takes the opportunity to recognize that families that children that parents that can ship that grandmother’s

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Shrounda Selivanoff: They just want to be able to take care of their families. And if they don’t have the resources or the wherewithal to do it, then let us be the call, because I’m here to serve you not myself.

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Keri Richmond: That’s so powerful and your truth is always so beautiful. And I think really hearing you speak just the word servant leadership come to mind and how critical that is and doing this work.

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Keri Richmond: And I love the way that you talk about communities and the way that they have to wrap around our families, Jessica, you’ve been so steeped into that work of really showing up for your community would love to hear from you.

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Jessica Crisp: Thank you. Sorry it my screen was freezing for just a second. Sure. Rhonda. That was incredible. And I would love to answer carry as you’re saying and jump off of what Toronto was saying.

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Jessica Crisp: I believe in as Toronto was saying, the basic necessities of kindness and compassion that need to drive everything that we’re doing. And in turn, what that will lead us to

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Jessica Crisp: Our things that we did not know we were capable of. And I feel like that is, those are some of those aha moments that are life changing and

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Jessica Crisp: For our family what that looked like was over a year and a half of building a relationship, but to me what this looks like as far as being a just an equitable system is that the day

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Jessica Crisp: That our little one was are unified with her joyful extended family that was not the end. And if we show kindness and compassion through this process to these family members.

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Jessica Crisp: You cannot help but join together, even if you have nothing else in common with people you will find common ground.

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Jessica Crisp: And it allows you, in the end, to have these long relationships or the potential for some type of long involvement.

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Jessica Crisp: Which allows support structures to remain in place. One thing that I feel so strongly about that is so difficult is realizing the day reunification happens

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Jessica Crisp: For that family. That means any other support structures, pretty much gone for the most part the foster family would say goodbye. We’re done. The child’s home okay we’re stepping away. But what they really need is someone in our situation, who left

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Jessica Crisp: Who left a 10 month old, and then suddenly one day becomes the parent of a three year old with not much time in between. To be able to navigate all of it there had to be a way to

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Jessica Crisp: Help her as her mother know that she could feel confident in this role and that we also believed in her and then we would help carry her through this process. So,

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Jessica Crisp: If anyone had said before, hey, you’re going to end up with a three, four year plus relationship with this family that you

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Jessica Crisp: Met through foster care. Would that happen. I would say there’s no way that’s going to happen because everyone wants to kind of close the door on that part of their life. That’s so hard.

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Jessica Crisp: But what’s happened here is it’s become a normal part of of our family now and we have the opportunity with our little one, and her family and extended family.

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Jessica Crisp: We see them regularly. We do birthdays. Together we do

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Jessica Crisp: baby showers together. We do all of these things together and all of this came out of, not me being an amazing person because honestly I’m not this came out of the fact that

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Jessica Crisp: We showed kindness and compassion to someone in their time of need. And what you can see is that you’re able to help nurture something in the end that allows

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Jessica Crisp: These individuals who are stuck in this really horrible painful system they’re able to thrive in a way, in the end, and if we continue to stand by them and build a community.

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Jessica Crisp: That is Toronto is saying carries that carry me let’s carry one another because together, we can do this separately if we pull out all the scaffolding.

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Jessica Crisp: The says the the cycle can continue and we’ve got to stop. How this continues to roll. So if we want to put the brakes on that we’ve got to join together in that way and practically live out

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Jessica Crisp: That compassion live out that empathy and tell people, respectfully, I hear you. You are heard you are seeing. We can do this together.

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Keri Richmond: I love what you said that you know when we do this, that leads us to things we didn’t know we had the capacity to hold and that I think your family is such a great example of

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Keri Richmond: Growing your capacity to love and a new way growing your capacity and your understanding of what family looks like and what family means and you

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Keri Richmond: All are certainly an example of what it looks like to build a longer table.

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Keri Richmond: And as we’re all talking today. It’s like I get this image of for too long in child welfare, we have played musical chairs, where we’re ripping tears away when we can’t afford to do that any longer. We need

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Keri Richmond: More people to be wrapping around these families and these children. So thank you for that answer and I love to transition to Jerry as someone who’s in a leadership role, what does this look like for you.

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Jerry Milner: Well, first of all, let me say how completely inadequate I feel after following sure Rhonda. I always feel inadequate following you. Sure. Rhonda and Jessica, your, your first hand experience.

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Jerry Milner: Really

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Jerry Milner: Is beyond whatever I can bring to the table here, but from from a more organizational perspective and how I perceive the leadership role in this area to get to a more just an equitable experience. We’ve got to get serious about what our vision is

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Jerry Milner: Just, just like

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Jerry Milner: Matt said earlier, yes. To learn unlearn what his job is. I think we have to unlearn what our vision is I vision has to address whole families.

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Jerry Milner: This is not unusual but earlier today. I heard a state to show up our leader expounding a very well intentioned vision.

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Jerry Milner: That essentially is a rescue the child approach and never wants. Did I hear anything about strengthening families strengthening communities.

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Jerry Milner: supporting families to care for their children. That’s, that’s more typical than not. And it hasn’t changed, to be quite honest in half a century on and that kind of a vision has not gotten us

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Jerry Milner: To where we want to go or where our families want indeed to go the vision has to be stronger families who can care for their children.

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Jerry Milner: stronger communities and then we can get serious about how to implement that vision because Vision without action is just a bunch of words that don’t really mean anything. A few people have noted funding.

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Jerry Milner: To get to a better experience for children are funding has to match our vision and our goals if foster care is our goal.

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Jerry Milner: Matt has alluded to this our, our funding matches it perfectly right now because that’s what we can spend money on

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Jerry Milner: It prevention is our goal with strengthening families is our goal than our funding does not match that gold go at all our current funding to be very blunt essentially a bet against

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Jerry Milner: Our most vulnerable families are most over represented children and families. We need the flexibility to be able to meet their needs, as they define those needs, where they are.

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Jerry Milner: With with not only kindness and compassion, but also with justice so that they have full benefit of what the system can offer and provide to them central to all of this is our capacity to listen to the voices of parents youth.

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Jerry Milner: Children and to act on those voices, as I said earlier, we cannot should not presume to know their experiences. If we not walked in those shoes.

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Jerry Milner: We have to integrate those opportunities.

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Jerry Milner: Integrate the opportunities I should say for their voices in all of our work on an ongoing basis. It can’t be just tokenism. It can’t be review and comment on things that we’ve already done.

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Jerry Milner: It has to be an integrated ongoing way of doing our work and I don’t think it’s a system we have really given

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Jerry Milner: In ourselves to share in that power as sure Rhonda has made such eloquent reference to already

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Jerry Milner: I think part of the way we get to a better system is we have to give up the notion that that child welfare has to be the face of everything that involves

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Jerry Milner: our children and our families. We have to embrace our prevention partners, our community members are the organizations formal and informal is equal partners.

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Jerry Milner: In creating the kind of Child and Family well being system that can serve our families.

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Jerry Milner: Well that involves surrendering so much of that power that that Toronto has already mentioned to communities to families to design the kinds of systems that will best meet their needs and then have the other Guts to go after

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Jerry Milner: The kind of funding that’s needed to support those programs, rather than staying married to unlimited foster care at the expense of supporting a family’s David, I visited last year with the family support center in the Bronx.

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Jerry Milner: That was just being kicked off in a particular community they have

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Jerry Milner: One of the things that I took away from that is that they won’t offer new services through the family support center, even if they sound like a good idea, without the concurrence of the community who will be the recipient of those services. I admire that that kind of commitment.

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Jerry Milner: So, so much there. I think that we have to we made references to the US. If we want to get to a different experience. We have to organize it. The National the state, the local level.

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Jerry Milner: To address seriously the relationship between poverty.

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Jerry Milner: And the number one reason that children in our foster care system which is neglect. We have to come to the understanding that even financially poor parents can be good parents to their children.

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Jerry Milner: Many times, as others have already noted, they need those concrete basic supports in order to do

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Jerry Milner: What needs to be done for their for their children. But we have got to address that relationship and stop sweeping that under the rug and blaming our parents for not having all the resources that they that they actually need.

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Keri Richmond: Thank you for that. Jerry, thank you again. The Vision without action is just a bunch of words really stood out to me and I love what you said about

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Keri Richmond: There needs to be shared power there needs to be shared vision that’s really what’s going to carry us into a more intentional.

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Keri Richmond: Place where we don’t have token ization anymore, where we have families that feel well supported and feel safe to come

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Keri Richmond: Be vulnerable and say what they need and that you have communities that stuff up show up for them and and I know that mass such a big visionary and he speaks about vision a lot. And that would love to hear your thoughts here.

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Matt Anderson: Yeah. Yes. Yeah. Vision without action so

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Matt Anderson: I’m not going to talk about vision so much. Actually, I want to, I want to share some some more concrete things, I hope. Anyway, but it is important to have vision and vision has to be followed by leadership and that that leadership has to be equitable right diverse equitable leadership.

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Matt Anderson: The most diverse teams are the most successful teams, right. So, build your teams with with diversity in mind to get the job done better and faster and

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Matt Anderson: In a more just way, I would say. But, and I would encourage everybody you know take these conversations into your own organizations, your own communities and find ways to

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Matt Anderson: To to do the next steps of the action, but I think there are a few things that come to mind about how do we create a more just an equitable system. And so one I think is incredibly simple that we can all start doing today and it starts with language.

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Matt Anderson: So let’s start using parents and family instead of bio parents and bio mom and biological family.

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Matt Anderson: I think as soon as we use the term bio mom, we have we have made mom other and we have separated her on a much deeper level than distance from her children.

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Matt Anderson: For her, and for her children and for us. I don’t think it’s healthy for us to refer to parents as biological parents. And so I would, I would suggest, let’s start using parents

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Matt Anderson: Like Rhonda said, you know, parents love their children.

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Matt Anderson: And their children love their parents and sometimes it’s not a safe, healthy relationship and we intervene, but that doesn’t change the fact that they love each other and we need to we need to really start to to

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Matt Anderson: Use different language. I think, you know, Jessica. I don’t think Jessica is a foster parent, you know, technically, she’s licensed as a foster parent, but maybe she’s a parent. Success Coach and maybe we should use terms like that that really describe the goal that we have in mind.

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Matt Anderson: You know, in terms of the role that somebody like Jessica plays

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Matt Anderson: I think that, you know, so that’s that’s one thought. Another thought is, and we might be able to drop this one and chat. There’s a new and maybe it just was dropped. Oh yeah, trends on it. So there’s a new tool kit that just came out.

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Matt Anderson: Children’s trust fund alliance and KPI and Youth Law Center in KC

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Matt Anderson: So I would I would take a look at that and it’s a reunification shared parenting toolkit.

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Matt Anderson: So let’s let’s implement practices that empower our staff and empower our parents. Success Coaches to help parents reunify with their children. Let’s really start to implement some new new practices and we can start doing that.

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Matt Anderson: I think that, you know, how do we create a more Justin equitable system. Well, if we have an unjust in an unjust system, you know, it was probably designed to be that way.

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Matt Anderson: And I don’t know if anybody on this call designed it to be that way. I don’t think that’s true, but it was designed to be that way. So let’s design it to be just an equitable

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Matt Anderson: And I think we can all start doing that, even in our own our own organization. So I think we can think about what is our practice, how have we organized our practice.

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Matt Anderson: And what decisions have we made about how we go about doing our work.

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Matt Anderson: And or are we just doing the things that we’ve always done, and do we need to step back and it’s hard because foster care is a is a crisis driven under resourced overworked profession. It’s the hardest job in the world. I think

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Matt Anderson: And but we still have to take time to step back and rethink and redesign the work that we do in a way that’s more adjusted more equitable that’s maybe not built on white middle class values.

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Matt Anderson: And it’s an inclusive process to redesign our work. And so if you have a table where you’re going to redesign your work, you know, take carries analogy and stretch the table longer

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Matt Anderson: Make sure you have a diverse team, make sure their parents, their youth. They’re all kinds of stakeholders at your table helping you design, design, the work that you’re doing.

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Matt Anderson: And then commit to it right. A lot of us as organizations do plans and we have really nice plans, but we don’t always follow through on our plans so you know design your practice be committed to your practice and really follow through on what you’re trying to do.

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Matt Anderson: I think those are those are some things that we can do, you know. But I think at the same time.

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Matt Anderson: You know, these, these conversations have focused a lot on how are we going to prevent foster care in the first place, and I think

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Matt Anderson: You know, we all have to have that front and center. I don’t know if that’s the job alone of child welfare.

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Matt Anderson: To prevent foster care in the first place. I think, you know, we’ve heard a Jerry and others have said that we need to be partnering together.

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Matt Anderson: Or we need to be advocating on behalf of ourselves and the families that we serve and kind of ringing the alarm bell of the public health crisis that I think foster care is

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Matt Anderson: And, you know, letting folks know that we’re concerned about the families that we serve. And we want to see, you know, we want to see the funds liberated to do different kinds of work.

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Matt Anderson: We want to see partnerships coming together to prevent and strengthen families. And I think we can do that. We can do that as child welfare, folks, you know, we can raise raise those concerns. So those are those are some things

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Matt Anderson: That we can do. I think I’m just noticing time and want to make sure we’re respectful of everybody’s time. So I’ll turn it back over to activists to start to kind of wrap us up well.

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Keri Richmond: Thank you. My yes so many good things in their language matters so much and changing the narrative changing the way that we do this work.

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Keri Richmond: I’m always so grateful for your leadership and the work that you’re doing with the Institute for Family and we are grateful for everyone’s answer is, and I think as we look ahead to 2021

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Keri Richmond: We’re in this month where everyone starts to get their vision boards ready and their new year’s resolutions ready

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Keri Richmond: Soon as we do start thinking about those things. Let’s keep this up the forefront. Let’s step into this new year ready to do the work.

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Keri Richmond: And so before we completely wrap up. We’re going to pop up a poll question and then because of time, Matt. I’m just going to

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Keri Richmond: hand it back over to you. And maybe you can read out our results from the poll. One more question for our audience today. Are you or your organization actively working towards creating a more just and equitable foster care system.

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Keri Richmond: Go ahead and let us know and maybe share some of the ways you are doing that or what’s holding you back in the chat. And now I will, I will pass. Yeah, yeah. Great.

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Matt Anderson: Yeah, thanks. Thanks. Carrie. And thanks to everybody for being with us again, you’re probably you might not see my face. I don’t know how this works. But I see the full question. So I’ll slide over

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Matt Anderson: But thanks for our coasts adequate carry amazing job today kind of keeping us all together here and to all of our guests Jessica Shonda Jerry, thank you for having this conversation with us and

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Matt Anderson: I do want to say to you know, Jerry for your leadership and your vision over the last few years, just want to share my personal appreciation and

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Matt Anderson: You have led a conversation that’s needed and created space for important conversation. So thank you. Thank you for that. And thanks to everybody that’s on today and

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Matt Anderson: You know, we’re, we’re just getting started. As the Institute for Family. This is really our first effort at putting ourselves out in the world and hosting conversations. We want to do more of these.

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Matt Anderson: So please reach out to us share in the chat share through the email address that we put up a couple times.

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Matt Anderson: Let us know what’s on your mind. Let us know what you want to hear in terms of next webinar topics 89% of you want more webinars so

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Matt Anderson: In a zoom heavy world. I suppose we’ll do more webinars in 2021 and keep these these brave spaces open for important conversations and

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Matt Anderson: keep a lookout. A lot of you have asked about these webinars being recorded. They are recorded, they will go up on our website Institute for family.org so you’ll be able to find these next week.

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Matt Anderson: All the resources that we’re collecting from our guests that we’re sharing and talking about. We’re going to host those on our website as well.

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Matt Anderson: And so you’ll be getting emails and you can find us on social media, all those places to so we will be in touch. And thank you all so much, appreciate it.

Episode 3 Resources
Institute for Family:

Website: A Second Chance, Inc. →

Website: Bring Up Nebraska →

Shrounda Selivanoff, Social Services Specialist:

Article: Choose Compassion When Supporting Parents → 

Matt Anderson, MSW, Director, Institute for Family: 

Website: CTF Alliance – Birth and Foster Parent Partnership →

Episode 3 Panelists Bios

Jessica Crisp served as a Licensed Foster Parent with Children’s Home Society of North Carolina from 2016 to 2020. Through her experience, she has become an advocate for improved shared parenting practices. Jessica is also passionate about nurturing meaningful relationships with birth families. She resides in Greensboro, NC with her husband, Brett, and their adopted 8-year-old son, Isaac. Professionally, Jessica provides public relations and marketing services for a non-profit hospice organization.

Jerry Milner is the Associate Commissioner at the Children’s Bureau. Jerry began his career as a case carrying social worker, served as the state child welfare agency director in Alabama, and previously worked for the Children’s Bureau designing and implementing the CFSR.  Immediately before his appointment, he served as the Vice President for Child Welfare Practice at the Center for the Support of Families. 

Shrounda Selivanoff is a passionate advocate for child welfare involved families driven by her own experience in child welfare system navigation. She brings a birth parent’s perspective to inform policy, practice, and system reform and is dedicated to transforming the system to serve families’ needs equitably. 

Episode 3 Hosts Bios

Keri Richmond lives in Washington, D.C. where she serves as the Manager of Child Welfare Policy for the American Academy of Pediatrics. She is passionate about building platforms for individuals with lived experience to share their insights, wisdom, expertise, and stories with the world. This passion led her to FosterStrong, where she and nine other alumni of foster care share their journey’s in foster care to empower current and former foster youth to embrace their inner strength and resilience.

Jaquia Wilson is an Advocate for Youth who have been in the child welfare system. She began vocalizing youth rights at age 15 when she was placed in congregate care. As an alumna of the child welfare system, Jaquia now supports youth in care as the Community Engagement Coordinator for Children’s Home Society of North Carolina’s SaySo program (Strong Able Youth Speaking Out).

Dive Deeper into the Unlearning of Child Welfare

Continuing the Conversation

Bobbi Taylor

Bobbi Taylor, webinar panelist, explains the benefits of adding the “secret sauce” to the child welfare system. We sat down with Bobbi to continue the conversation from Episode 2.

Continuing the Conversation

Shroundra Selivanoff

The webinar chat buzzed with questions and comments (as well as great networking) so we decided to continue the conversation with webinar panelist Shrounda Selivanoff to answer your questions.

Continuing the Conversation

Ned Breslin

Matt Anderson, Director of the Institute for Family, sits down with Ned Breslin, President and CEO of Tennyson Center, to discuss the Rewiring Initiative.

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