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Resolving Conflicts With Tech: 10 Strategies in Child Support Case Management

As a child support case manager, you play a pivotal role in ensuring children receive the support they need. However, managing child support cases can be complex, with many parties involved and the potential for conflicts. Fortunately, technology offers innovative...
by Casebook Editorial Team 15 min read
by Casebook Editorial Team 11 min read

What Is Intensive Case Management?

by Maryellen Hess Cameron 15 min read

How Can Workflows Support Home Visits?

Using Data for Enhanced Nonprofit Performance: Insights and Strategies

Whitepaper, Driving Nonprofit Impact With Data and Technology, synthesizes the findings from a survey Executive Directors of 27 agencies in human services.Survey Insights Data Utilization The survey illuminates a crucial gap, with 73% of agencies underutilizing data in...
by Casebook Editorial Team 7 min read

AI Tools for Human Services Nonprofits

Following are some AI tools for you to consider. There are many others available as well. These solutions will take some of the heavy lift off staff so your organization, and those you serve, can thrive! AI Solutions - Administrative With these tools, you can easily...
by Casebook Editorial Team 13 min read

Buy or Build Your Own Case Management System for Human Services?

You run a social services organization and you're keeping all of your records in a spreadsheet, and now you are wondering if the investment in a case management solution is right for you. You're probably already having trouble getting the reports you need and making...
by Andrew Pelletier 20 min read

Best Practices

The Ultimate Guide to Grant Funding Success

UPDATED for 2024: Discover best practices to securing grant funding with our comprehensive guide. From identifying opportunities to crafting winning proposals, we cover everything you need to succeed.

Download now and start your journey towards grant funding success.

Secure Your Funding Pt. 3 — Emphasis On The Data

So far, we’ve reviewed watchdog sites’ standards, detailing indicators for a nonprofit’s success, and articulating metrics. What do all of these have in common? DATA! Ratings, program development, case-making…all are driven by a drumbeat of qualitative and quantitative data. How the public v...

Reporting Impact and Communicating to Grant Funders

The previous post outlined the primary types of capacity-building projects and reviewed how transformational successful capacity-building implementation have been, for example, nonprofits...

by Sade Dozan4 min read

Capacity-Building Grants | Nonprofit Case Studies

In the previous post, we touched on how capacity-building grants are identified and developed in an effort to better position organizations for growth. Now, we’ll review the power of capacity-building g...

by Sade Dozan4 min read

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Latest Blogs

Top 5 Mistakes You Can Make Choosing Family Services Software

If you’re on the lookout for a software solution for your family services organization, proceed with caution. Your choices have exploded in the last few years, but not all of your options are capable of meeting the needs of your organization or the people it serves. To identify and implement your id...
If you’re on the lookout for a software solution for your family services organization, proceed with caution. Your choices have exploded in the last few years, but not all of your options are capable of meeting the needs of your organization or the people it serves. To identify and implement your ideal solution, it’s incumbent on you to take some steps to prepare for the change. An Expanding Variety of Family Services Software Family services organizations, like many of those in human services, have been relatively slow in adopting new technologies. This delay threatens to place the most vulnerable in society at an even greater risk than they already endure. With the growing need for real-time access to data about clients as well as internal matters, family services software solutions are proliferating and evolving to meet the changing needs of these organizations. As you consider adopting a new software platform for your organization, you’ll want to stay aware of the following pitfalls that could jeopardize its success. 1. Losing Focus on the Mission Whatever solution you decide on, your organization’s mission must remain your central concern. Software is simply a tool, and your tools should give you exactly what you need — no more and no less. Excessive functionality can present a problem to those looking for a speedy, uncomplicated process and user-friendly experiences. Unless you have in-house software developers or opt for a customized system, you’ll almost certainly be adapting an existing platform to suit the needs of your organization. This requires configurability. Configurability enables you to adjust prebuilt software capabilities, giving you freedom and flexibility to mold a platform to your specifications. Configurable software can be purpose-built for the industries and trades they serve, providing the control needed to help you avoid paying for consulting services that aren’t included with your original purchase. With family services software that can be configured to meet your particular needs, your organization’s mission becomes a much shorter hill to climb. 2. Choosing by Price or Perceived Popularity It’s remarkably easy to do a quick search online and pick a platform that lists high on the results page. It’s equally tempting to select your family services software based on price alone. But finding the right solution for your organization and its mission isn’t likely to be quite as simple as that. By allowing your choice to be guided by what “everybody else” does, you may be shortchanging your organization in the midst of the various options available today. The number of web-based apps dedicated to the needs of family services organizations has skyrocketed. However, brand recognition, bold marketing, and daring pricing tactics can obscure what are actually outdated programs that come up short and don’t deliver what your organization truly needs. Letting the allure of popularity or an outsized fixation on price compel your decision can easily lead you to paying a premium for antiquated technology. This common error could damage your organization and hinder its mission. Your organization’s unique objective imposes specific demands on whatever solution you ultimately choose. To determine what’s best equipped to advance your organization’s mission, product demos are often a vital step of the process. These valuable sessions make it possible to know if a well-known provider is offering essentially the same software that it came out with years ago, or if an unfamiliar new competitor has created the ideal app that your team deserves. 3. Neglecting to Consult the Whole Team Adding the right family services software to your technology stack can certainly help your organization fulfill its mission. But it also makes your team’s jobs easier — from the back office to the workers in the field. Your new solution will have a definite impact across your organization, so why not include your team in the decision? If enough people in your organization aren’t involved in choosing its new system, you may see some backlash. A unilateral approach to this process can make stakeholders feel left out, resulting in a high probability for pushback as you’re transitioning from one system to another. To ensure you’ve gathered sufficient support from those who will be using it, get buy-in from your team members by consulting with them and soliciting their approval of any software platforms you’re seriously considering. Regardless of whatever operational efficiencies a new platform may bring to your organization, your team is liable to be unimpressed if they feel unrepresented in its selection. Since using any new software that you introduce will be an integral part of their jobs, you should regard your teammates as indispensable resources to be consulted before you reach a decision. 4. Forgetting About the Onboarding Phase It’s tempting to think that, after purchasing your new family services software, you can immediately replace your old system. But the transition isn’t quite that simple. Platform implementation can take weeks or even months, depending on your organization’s size, readiness, and other factors. Onboarding your team to the new system is a core part of the implementation process — and it takes up a generous portion of time. To make this transition smooth, it’s important that you select a software provider with an efficient and accommodating onboarding process. Find out how the providers you’re considering handle onboarding. How quickly can they get your team up and running on the platform? How flexible is the onboarding schedule? What will the provider expect from you and your team during the onboarding phase and other phases of implementation? These are the kinds of questions to prepare when you’re shopping around. 5. Expecting Software to Fix a Flawed Process Cloud technology has radically changed business and information management, resulting in abundant new tools for family services organizations. However, since technology is dependent on the people and processes that govern its use, your tools can’t fix broken methods. It would be a mistake to approach your search for a new platform without thoroughly understanding this point. Bear in mind that no software solution can repair an operation with inadequacies in its people or its process. Effective software simply takes what your organization does best and amplifies it, enhancing your clients’ experience. It saves your team time by expediting workflows, creating greater opportunities for assisting more families. But, before you pick up any new tool, it’s a good idea to review your organization from end to end. Try to identify sources of waste and address them well in advance of moving to any new system. This will help ensure the success of your new software. Choosing new software for your organization can be a demanding, stressful process full of promise and uncertainty. With an expanding multitude of options, family services professionals need to take care in their selection, as any change will often carry long-lasting and far-reaching consequences for their organization. By avoiding common mistakes in your search for a software platform, you can maximize the effectiveness of your solution, whatever you finally decide to do. To learn more about choosin If you’re on the lookout for a software solution for your family services organization, proceed with caution. Your choices have exploded in the last few years, but not all of your options are capable of meeting the needs of your organization or the people it serves. To identify and implement your ideal solution, it’s incumbent on you to take some steps to prepare for the change. An Expanding Variety of Family Services Software Family services organizations, like many of those in human services, have been relatively slow in adopting new technologies. This delay threatens to place the most vulnerable in society at an even greater risk than they already endure. With the growing need for real-time access to data about clients as well as internal matters, family services software solutions are proliferating and evolving to meet the changing needs of these organizations. As you consider adopting a new software platform for your organization, you’ll want to stay aware of the following pitfalls that could jeopardize its success. 1. Losing Focus on the Mission Whatever solution you decide on, your organization’s mission must remain your central concern. Software is simply a tool, and your tools should give you exactly what you need — no more and no less. Excessive functionality can present a problem to those looking for a speedy, uncomplicated process and user-friendly experiences. Unless you have in-house software developers or opt for a customized system, you’ll almost certainly be adapting an existing platform to suit the needs of your organization. This requires configurability. Configurability enables you to adjust prebuilt software capabilities, giving you freedom and flexibility to mold a platform to your specifications. Configurable software can be purpose-built for the industries and trades they serve, providing the control needed to help you avoid paying for consulting services that aren’t included with your original purchase. With family services software that can be configured to meet your particular needs, your organization’s mission becomes a much shorter hill to climb. 2. Choosing by Price or Perceived Popularity It’s remarkably easy to do a quick search online and pick a platform that lists high on the results page. It’s equally tempting to select your family services software based on price alone. But finding the right solution for your organization and its mission isn’t likely to be quite as simple as that. By allowing your choice to be guided by what “everybody else” does, you may be shortchanging your organization in the midst of the various options available today. The number of web-based apps dedicated to the needs of family services organizations has skyrocketed. However, brand recognition, bold marketing, and daring pricing tactics can obscure what are actually outdated programs that come up short and don’t deliver what your organization truly needs. Letting the allure of popularity or an outsized fixation on price compel your decision can easily lead you to paying a premium for antiquated technology. This common error could damage your organization and hinder its mission. Your organization’s unique objective imposes specific demands on whatever solution you ultimately choose. To determine what’s best equipped to advance your organization’s mission, product demos are often a vital step of the process. These valuable sessions make it possible to know if a well-known provider is offering essentially the same software that it came out with years ago, or if an unfamiliar new competitor has created the ideal app that your team deserves. 3. Neglecting to Consult the Whole Team Adding the right family services software to your technology stack can certainly help your organization fulfill its mission. But it also makes your team’s jobs easier — from the back office to the workers in the field. Your new solution will have a definite impact across your organization, so why not include your team in the decision? If enough people in your organization aren’t involved in choosing its new system, you may see some backlash. A unilateral approach to this process can make stakeholders feel left out, resulting in a high probability for pushback as you’re transitioning from one system to another. To ensure you’ve gathered sufficient support from those who will be using it, get buy-in from your team members by consulting with them and soliciting their approval of any software platforms you’re seriously considering. Regardless of whatever operational efficiencies a new platform may bring to your organization, your team is liable to be unimpressed if they feel unrepresented in its selection. Since using any new software that you introduce will be an integral part of their jobs, you should regard your teammates as indispensable resources to be consulted before you reach a decision. 4. Forgetting About the Onboarding Phase It’s tempting to think that, after purchasing your new family services software, you can immediately replace your old system. But the transition isn’t quite that simple. Platform implementation can take weeks or even months, depending on your organization’s size, readiness, and other factors. Onboarding your team to the new system is a core part of the implementation process — and it takes up a generous portion of time. To make this transition smooth, it’s important that you select a software provider with an efficient and accommodating onboarding process. Find out how the providers you’re considering handle onboarding. How quickly can they get your team up and running on the platform? How flexible is the onboarding schedule? What will the provider expect from you and your team during the onboarding phase and other phases of implementation? These are the kinds of questions to prepare when you’re shopping around. 5. Expecting Software to Fix a Flawed Process Cloud technology has radically changed business and information management, resulting in abundant new tools for family services organizations. However, since technology is dependent on the people and processes that govern its use, your tools can’t fix broken methods. It would be a mistake to approach your search for a new platform without thoroughly understanding this point. Bear in mind that no software solution can repair an operation with inadequacies in its people or its process. Effective software simply takes what your organization does best and amplifies it, enhancing your clients’ experience. It saves your team time by expediting workflows, creating greater opportunities for assisting more families. But, before you pick up any new tool, it’s a good idea to review your organization from end to end. Try to identify sources of waste and address them well in advance of moving to any new system. This will help ensure the success of your new software. Choosing new software for your organization can be a demanding, stressful process full of promise and uncertainty. With an expanding multitude of options, family services professionals need to take care in their selection, as any change will often carry long-lasting and far-reaching consequences for their organization. By avoiding common mistakes in your search for a software platform, you can maximize the effectiveness of your solution, whatever you finally decide to do. To learn more about choosin If you’re on the lookout for a software solution for your family services organization, proceed with caution. Your choices have exploded in the last few years, but not all of your options are capable of meeting the needs of your organization or the people it serves. To identify and implement your ideal solution, it’s incumbent on you to take some steps to prepare for the change. An Expanding Variety of Family Services Software Family services organizations, like many of those in human services, have been relatively slow in adopting new technologies. This delay threatens to place the most vulnerable in society at an even greater risk than they already endure. With the growing need for real-time access to data about clients as well as internal matters, family services software solutions are proliferating and evolving to meet the changing needs of these organizations. As you consider adopting a new software platform for your organization, you’ll want to stay aware of the following pitfalls that could jeopardize its success. 1. Losing Focus on the Mission Whatever solution you decide on, your organization’s mission must remain your central concern. Software is simply a tool, and your tools should give you exactly what you need — no more and no less. Excessive functionality can present a problem to those looking for a speedy, uncomplicated process and user-friendly experiences. Unless you have in-house software developers or opt for a customized system, you’ll almost certainly be adapting an existing platform to suit the needs of your organization. This requires configurability. Configurability enables you to adjust prebuilt software capabilities, giving you freedom and flexibility to mold a platform to your specifications. Configurable software can be purpose-built for the industries and trades they serve, providing the control needed to help you avoid paying for consulting services that aren’t included with your original purchase. With family services software that can be configured to meet your particular needs, your organization’s mission becomes a much shorter hill to climb. 2. Choosing by Price or Perceived Popularity It’s remarkably easy to do a quick search online and pick a platform that lists high on the results page. It’s equally tempting to select your family services software based on price alone. But finding the right solution for your organization and its mission isn’t likely to be quite as simple as that. By allowing your choice to be guided by what “everybody else” does, you may be shortchanging your organization in the midst of the various options available today. The number of web-based apps dedicated to the needs of family services organizations has skyrocketed. However, brand recognition, bold marketing, and daring pricing tactics can obscure what are actually outdated programs that come up short and don’t deliver what your organization truly needs. Letting the allure of popularity or an outsized fixation on price compel your decision can easily lead you to paying a premium for antiquated technology. This common error could damage your organization and hinder its mission. Your organization’s unique objective imposes specific demands on whatever solution you ultimately choose. To determine what’s best equipped to advance your organization’s mission, product demos are often a vital step of the process. These valuable sessions make it possible to know if a well-known provider is offering essentially the same software that it came out with years ago, or if an unfamiliar new competitor has created the ideal app that your team deserves. 3. Neglecting to Consult the Whole Team Adding the right family services software to your technology stack can certainly help your organization fulfill its mission. But it also makes your team’s jobs easier — from the back office to the workers in the field. Your new solution will have a definite impact across your organization, so why not include your team in the decision? If enough people in your organization aren’t involved in choosing its new system, you may see some backlash. A unilateral approach to this process can make stakeholders feel left out, resulting in a high probability for pushback as you’re transitioning from one system to another. To ensure you’ve gathered sufficient support from those who will be using it, get buy-in from your team members by consulting with them and soliciting their approval of any software platforms you’re seriously considering. Regardless of whatever operational efficiencies a new platform may bring to your organization, your team is liable to be unimpressed if they feel unrepresented in its selection. Since using any new software that you introduce will be an integral part of their jobs, you should regard your teammates as indispensable resources to be consulted before you reach a decision. 4. Forgetting About the Onboarding Phase It’s tempting to think that, after purchasing your new family services software, you can immediately replace your old system. But the transition isn’t quite that simple. Platform implementation can take weeks or even months, depending on your organization’s size, readiness, and other factors. Onboarding your team to the new system is a core part of the implementation process — and it takes up a generous portion of time. To make this transition smooth, it’s important that you select a software provider with an efficient and accommodating onboarding process. Find out how the providers you’re considering handle onboarding. How quickly can they get your team up and running on the platform? How flexible is the onboarding schedule? What will the provider expect from you and your team during the onboarding phase and other phases of implementation? These are the kinds of questions to prepare when you’re shopping around. 5. Expecting Software to Fix a Flawed Process Cloud technology has radically changed business and information management, resulting in abundant new tools for family services organizations. However, since technology is dependent on the people and processes that govern its use, your tools can’t fix broken methods. It would be a mistake to approach your search for a new platform without thoroughly understanding this point. Bear in mind that no software solution can repair an operation with inadequacies in its people or its process. Effective software simply takes what your organization does best and amplifies it, enhancing your clients’ experience. It saves your team time by expediting workflows, creating greater opportunities for assisting more families. But, before you pick up any new tool, it’s a good idea to review your organization from end to end. Try to identify sources of waste and address them well in advance of moving to any new system. This will help ensure the success of your new software. Choosing new software for your organization can be a demanding, stressful process full of promise and uncertainty. With an expanding multitude of options, family services professionals need to take care in their selection, as any change will often carry long-lasting and far-reaching consequences for their organization. By avoiding common mistakes in your search for a software platform, you can maximize the effectiveness of your solution, whatever you finally decide to do. To learn more about choosin If you’re on the lookout for a software solution for your family services organization, proceed with caution. Your choices have exploded in the last few years, but not all of your options are capable of meeting the needs of your organization or the people it serves. To identify and implement your ideal solution, it’s incumbent on you to take some steps to prepare for the change. An Expanding Variety of Family Services Software Family services organizations, like many of those in human services, have been relatively slow in adopting new technologies. This delay threatens to place the most vulnerable in society at an even greater risk than they already endure. With the growing need for real-time access to data about clients as well as internal matters, family services software solutions are proliferating and evolving to meet the changing needs of these organizations. As you consider adopting a new software platform for your organization, you’ll want to stay aware of the following pitfalls that could jeopardize its success. 1. Losing Focus on the Mission Whatever solution you decide on, your organization’s mission must remain your central concern. Software is simply a tool, and your tools should give you exactly what you need — no more and no less. Excessive functionality can present a problem to those looking for a speedy, uncomplicated process and user-friendly experiences. Unless you have in-house software developers or opt for a customized system, you’ll almost certainly be adapting an existing platform to suit the needs of your organization. This requires configurability. Configurability enables you to adjust prebuilt software capabilities, giving you freedom and flexibility to mold a platform to your specifications. Configurable software can be purpose-built for the industries and trades they serve, providing the control needed to help you avoid paying for consulting services that aren’t included with your original purchase. With family services software that can be configured to meet your particular needs, your organization’s mission becomes a much shorter hill to climb. 2. Choosing by Price or Perceived Popularity It’s remarkably easy to do a quick search online and pick a platform that lists high on the results page. It’s equally tempting to select your family services software based on price alone. But finding the right solution for your organization and its mission isn’t likely to be quite as simple as that. By allowing your choice to be guided by what “everybody else” does, you may be shortchanging your organization in the midst of the various options available today. The number of web-based apps dedicated to the needs of family services organizations has skyrocketed. However, brand recognition, bold marketing, and daring pricing tactics can obscure what are actually outdated programs that come up short and don’t deliver what your organization truly needs. Letting the allure of popularity or an outsized fixation on price compel your decision can easily lead you to paying a premium for antiquated technology. This common error could damage your organization and hinder its mission. Your organization’s unique objective imposes specific demands on whatever solution you ultimately choose. To determine what’s best equipped to advance your organization’s mission, product demos are often a vital step of the process. These valuable sessions make it possible to know if a well-known provider is offering essentially the same software that it came out with years ago, or if an unfamiliar new competitor has created the ideal app that your team deserves. 3. Neglecting to Consult the Whole Team Adding the right family services software to your technology stack can certainly help your organization fulfill its mission. But it also makes your team’s jobs easier — from the back office to the workers in the field. Your new solution will have a definite impact across your organization, so why not include your team in the decision? If enough people in your organization aren’t involved in choosing its new system, you may see some backlash. A unilateral approach to this process can make stakeholders feel left out, resulting in a high probability for pushback as you’re transitioning from one system to another. To ensure you’ve gathered sufficient support from those who will be using it, get buy-in from your team members by consulting with them and soliciting their approval of any software platforms you’re seriously considering. Regardless of whatever operational efficiencies a new platform may bring to your organization, your team is liable to be unimpressed if they feel unrepresented in its selection. Since using any new software that you introduce will be an integral part of their jobs, you should regard your teammates as indispensable resources to be consulted before you reach a decision. 4. Forgetting About the Onboarding Phase It’s tempting to think that, after purchasing your new family services software, you can immediately replace your old system. But the transition isn’t quite that simple. Platform implementation can take weeks or even months, depending on your organization’s size, readiness, and other factors. Onboarding your team to the new system is a core part of the implementation process — and it takes up a generous portion of time. To make this transition smooth, it’s important that you select a software provider with an efficient and accommodating onboarding process. Find out how the providers you’re considering handle onboarding. How quickly can they get your team up and running on the platform? How flexible is the onboarding schedule? What will the provider expect from you and your team during the onboarding phase and other phases of implementation? These are the kinds of questions to prepare when you’re shopping around. 5. Expecting Software to Fix a Flawed Process Cloud technology has radically changed business and information management, resulting in abundant new tools for family services organizations. However, since technology is dependent on the people and processes that govern its use, your tools can’t fix broken methods. It would be a mistake to approach your search for a new platform without thoroughly understanding this point. Bear in mind that no software solution can repair an operation with inadequacies in its people or its process. Effective software simply takes what your organization does best and amplifies it, enhancing your clients’ experience. It saves your team time by expediting workflows, creating greater opportunities for assisting more families. But, before you pick up any new tool, it’s a good idea to review your organization from end to end. Try to identify sources of waste and address them well in advance of moving to any new system. This will help ensure the success of your new software. Choosing new software for your organization can be a demanding, stressful process full of promise and uncertainty. With an expanding multitude of options, family services professionals need to take care in their selection, as any change will often carry long-lasting and far-reaching consequences for their organization. By avoiding common mistakes in your search for a software platform, you can maximize the effectiveness of your solution, whatever you finally decide to do. To learn more about choosin If you’re on the lookout for a software solution for your family services organization, proceed with caution. Your choices have exploded in the last few years, but not all of your options are capable of meeting the needs of your organization or the people it serves. To identify and implement your ideal solution, it’s incumbent on you to take some steps to prepare for the change. An Expanding Variety of Family Services Software Family services organizations, like many of those in human services, have been relatively slow in adopting new technologies. This delay threatens to place the most vulnerable in society at an even greater risk than they already endure. With the growing need for real-time access to data about clients as well as internal matters, family services software solutions are proliferating and evolving to meet the changing needs of these organizations. As you consider adopting a new software platform for your organization, you’ll want to stay aware of the following pitfalls that could jeopardize its success. 1. Losing Focus on the Mission Whatever solution you decide on, your organization’s mission must remain your central concern. Software is simply a tool, and your tools should give you exactly what you need — no more and no less. Excessive functionality can present a problem to those looking for a speedy, uncomplicated process and user-friendly experiences. Unless you have in-house software developers or opt for a customized system, you’ll almost certainly be adapting an existing platform to suit the needs of your organization. This requires configurability. Configurability enables you to adjust prebuilt software capabilities, giving you freedom and flexibility to mold a platform to your specifications. Configurable software can be purpose-built for the industries and trades they serve, providing the control needed to help you avoid paying for consulting services that aren’t included with your original purchase. With family services software that can be configured to meet your particular needs, your organization’s mission becomes a much shorter hill to climb. 2. Choosing by Price or Perceived Popularity It’s remarkably easy to do a quick search online and pick a platform that lists high on the results page. It’s equally tempting to select your family services software based on price alone. But finding the right solution for your organization and its mission isn’t likely to be quite as simple as that. By allowing your choice to be guided by what “everybody else” does, you may be shortchanging your organization in the midst of the various options available today. The number of web-based apps dedicated to the needs of family services organizations has skyrocketed. However, brand recognition, bold marketing, and daring pricing tactics can obscure what are actually outdated programs that come up short and don’t deliver what your organization truly needs. Letting the allure of popularity or an outsized fixation on price compel your decision can easily lead you to paying a premium for antiquated technology. This common error could damage your organization and hinder its mission. Your organization’s unique objective imposes specific demands on whatever solution you ultimately choose. To determine what’s best equipped to advance your organization’s mission, product demos are often a vital step of the process. These valuable sessions make it possible to know if a well-known provider is offering essentially the same software that it came out with years ago, or if an unfamiliar new competitor has created the ideal app that your team deserves. 3. Neglecting to Consult the Whole Team Adding the right family services software to your technology stack can certainly help your organization fulfill its mission. But it also makes your team’s jobs easier — from the back office to the workers in the field. Your new solution will have a definite impact across your organization, so why not include your team in the decision? If enough people in your organization aren’t involved in choosing its new system, you may see some backlash. A unilateral approach to this process can make stakeholders feel left out, resulting in a high probability for pushback as you’re transitioning from one system to another. To ensure you’ve gathered sufficient support from those who will be using it, get buy-in from your team members by consulting with them and soliciting their approval of any software platforms you’re seriously considering. Regardless of whatever operational efficiencies a new platform may bring to your organization, your team is liable to be unimpressed if they feel unrepresented in its selection. Since using any new software that you introduce will be an integral part of their jobs, you should regard your teammates as indispensable resources to be consulted before you reach a decision. 4. Forgetting About the Onboarding Phase It’s tempting to think that, after purchasing your new family services software, you can immediately replace your old system. But the transition isn’t quite that simple. Platform implementation can take weeks or even months, depending on your organization’s size, readiness, and other factors. Onboarding your team to the new system is a core part of the implementation process — and it takes up a generous portion of time. To make this transition smooth, it’s important that you select a software provider with an efficient and accommodating onboarding process. Find out how the providers you’re considering handle onboarding. How quickly can they get your team up and running on the platform? How flexible is the onboarding schedule? What will the provider expect from you and your team during the onboarding phase and other phases of implementation? These are the kinds of questions to prepare when you’re shopping around. 5. Expecting Software to Fix a Flawed Process Cloud technology has radically changed business and information management, resulting in abundant new tools for family services organizations. However, since technology is dependent on the people and processes that govern its use, your tools can’t fix broken methods. It would be a mistake to approach your search for a new platform without thoroughly understanding this point. Bear in mind that no software solution can repair an operation with inadequacies in its people or its process. Effective software simply takes what your organization does best and amplifies it, enhancing your clients’ experience. It saves your team time by expediting workflows, creating greater opportunities for assisting more families. But, before you pick up any new tool, it’s a good idea to review your organization from end to end. Try to identify sources of waste and address them well in advance of moving to any new system. This will help ensure the success of your new software. Choosing new software for your organization can be a demanding, stressful process full of promise and uncertainty. With an expanding multitude of options, family services professionals need to take care in their selection, as any change will often carry long-lasting and far-reaching consequences for their organization. By avoiding common mistakes in your search for a software platform, you can maximize the effectiveness of your solution, whatever you finally decide to do. To learn more about choosin If you’re on the lookout for a software solution for your family services organization, proceed with caution. Your choices have exploded in the last few years, but not all of your options are capable of meeting the needs of your organization or the people it serves. To identify and implement your ideal solution, it’s incumbent on you to take some steps to prepare for the change. An Expanding Variety of Family Services Software Family services organizations, like many of those in human services, have been relatively slow in adopting new technologies. This delay threatens to place the most vulnerable in society at an even greater risk than they already endure. With the growing need for real-time access to data about clients as well as internal matters, family services software solutions are proliferating and evolving to meet the changing needs of these organizations. As you consider adopting a new software platform for your organization, you’ll want to stay aware of the following pitfalls that could jeopardize its success. 1. Losing Focus on the Mission Whatever solution you decide on, your organization’s mission must remain your central concern. Software is simply a tool, and your tools should give you exactly what you need — no more and no less. Excessive functionality can present a problem to those looking for a speedy, uncomplicated process and user-friendly experiences. Unless you have in-house software developers or opt for a customized system, you’ll almost certainly be adapting an existing platform to suit the needs of your organization. This requires configurability. Configurability enables you to adjust prebuilt software capabilities, giving you freedom and flexibility to mold a platform to your specifications. Configurable software can be purpose-built for the industries and trades they serve, providing the control needed to help you avoid paying for consulting services that aren’t included with your original purchase. With family services software that can be configured to meet your particular needs, your organization’s mission becomes a much shorter hill to climb. 2. Choosing by Price or Perceived Popularity It’s remarkably easy to do a quick search online and pick a platform that lists high on the results page. It’s equally tempting to select your family services software based on price alone. But finding the right solution for your organization and its mission isn’t likely to be quite as simple as that. By allowing your choice to be guided by what “everybody else” does, you may be shortchanging your organization in the midst of the various options available today. The number of web-based apps dedicated to the needs of family services organizations has skyrocketed. However, brand recognition, bold marketing, and daring pricing tactics can obscure what are actually outdated programs that come up short and don’t deliver what your organization truly needs. Letting the allure of popularity or an outsized fixation on price compel your decision can easily lead you to paying a premium for antiquated technology. This common error could damage your organization and hinder its mission. Your organization’s unique objective imposes specific demands on whatever solution you ultimately choose. To determine what’s best equipped to advance your organization’s mission, product demos are often a vital step of the process. These valuable sessions make it possible to know if a well-known provider is offering essentially the same software that it came out with years ago, or if an unfamiliar new competitor has created the ideal app that your team deserves. 3. Neglecting to Consult the Whole Team Adding the right family services software to your technology stack can certainly help your organization fulfill its mission. But it also makes your team’s jobs easier — from the back office to the workers in the field. Your new solution will have a definite impact across your organization, so why not include your team in the decision? If enough people in your organization aren’t involved in choosing its new system, you may see some backlash. A unilateral approach to this process can make stakeholders feel left out, resulting in a high probability for pushback as you’re transitioning from one system to another. To ensure you’ve gathered sufficient support from those who will be using it, get buy-in from your team members by consulting with them and soliciting their approval of any software platforms you’re seriously considering. Regardless of whatever operational efficiencies a new platform may bring to your organization, your team is liable to be unimpressed if they feel unrepresented in its selection. Since using any new software that you introduce will be an integral part of their jobs, you should regard your teammates as indispensable resources to be consulted before you reach a decision. 4. Forgetting About the Onboarding Phase It’s tempting to think that, after purchasing your new family services software, you can immediately replace your old system. But the transition isn’t quite that simple. Platform implementation can take weeks or even months, depending on your organization’s size, readiness, and other factors. Onboarding your team to the new system is a core part of the implementation process — and it takes up a generous portion of time. To make this transition smooth, it’s important that you select a software provider with an efficient and accommodating onboarding process. Find out how the providers you’re considering handle onboarding. How quickly can they get your team up and running on the platform? How flexible is the onboarding schedule? What will the provider expect from you and your team during the onboarding phase and other phases of implementation? These are the kinds of questions to prepare when you’re shopping around. 5. Expecting Software to Fix a Flawed Process Cloud technology has radically changed business and information management, resulting in abundant new tools for family services organizations. However, since technology is dependent on the people and processes that govern its use, your tools can’t fix broken methods. It would be a mistake to approach your search for a new platform without thoroughly understanding this point. Bear in mind that no software solution can repair an operation with inadequacies in its people or its process. Effective software simply takes what your organization does best and amplifies it, enhancing your clients’ experience. It saves your team time by expediting workflows, creating greater opportunities for assisting more families. But, before you pick up any new tool, it’s a good idea to review your organization from end to end. Try to identify sources of waste and address them well in advance of moving to any new system. This will help ensure the success of your new software. Choosing new software for your organization can be a demanding, stressful process full of promise and uncertainty. With an expanding multitude of options, family services professionals need to take care in their selection, as any change will often carry long-lasting and far-reaching consequences for their organization. By avoiding common mistakes in your search for a software platform, you can maximize the effectiveness of your solution, whatever you finally decide to do. To learn more about choosin If you’re on the lookout for a software solution for your family services organization, proceed with caution. Your choices have exploded in the last few years, but not all of your options are capable of meeting the needs of your organization or the people it serves. To identify and implement your ideal solution, it’s incumbent on you to take some steps to prepare for the change. An Expanding Variety of Family Services Software Family services organizations, like many of those in human services, have been relatively slow in adopting new technologies. This delay threatens to place the most vulnerable in society at an even greater risk than they already endure. With the growing need for real-time access to data about clients as well as internal matters, family services software solutions are proliferating and evolving to meet the changing needs of these organizations. As you consider adopting a new software platform for your organization, you’ll want to stay aware of the following pitfalls that could jeopardize its success. 1. Losing Focus on the Mission Whatever solution you decide on, your organization’s mission must remain your central concern. Software is simply a tool, and your tools should give you exactly what you need — no more and no less. Excessive functionality can present a problem to those looking for a speedy, uncomplicated process and user-friendly experiences. Unless you have in-house software developers or opt for a customized system, you’ll almost certainly be adapting an existing platform to suit the needs of your organization. This requires configurability. Configurability enables you to adjust prebuilt software capabilities, giving you freedom and flexibility to mold a platform to your specifications. Configurable software can be purpose-built for the industries and trades they serve, providing the control needed to help you avoid paying for consulting services that aren’t included with your original purchase. With family services software that can be configured to meet your particular needs, your organization’s mission becomes a much shorter hill to climb. 2. Choosing by Price or Perceived Popularity It’s remarkably easy to do a quick search online and pick a platform that lists high on the results page. It’s equally tempting to select your family services software based on price alone. But finding the right solution for your organization and its mission isn’t likely to be quite as simple as that. By allowing your choice to be guided by what “everybody else” does, you may be shortchanging your organization in the midst of the various options available today. The number of web-based apps dedicated to the needs of family services organizations has skyrocketed. However, brand recognition, bold marketing, and daring pricing tactics can obscure what are actually outdated programs that come up short and don’t deliver what your organization truly needs. Letting the allure of popularity or an outsized fixation on price compel your decision can easily lead you to paying a premium for antiquated technology. This common error could damage your organization and hinder its mission. Your organization’s unique objective imposes specific demands on whatever solution you ultimately choose. To determine what’s best equipped to advance your organization’s mission, product demos are often a vital step of the process. These valuable sessions make it possible to know if a well-known provider is offering essentially the same software that it came out with years ago, or if an unfamiliar new competitor has created the ideal app that your team deserves. 3. Neglecting to Consult the Whole Team Adding the right family services software to your technology stack can certainly help your organization fulfill its mission. But it also makes your team’s jobs easier — from the back office to the workers in the field. Your new solution will have a definite impact across your organization, so why not include your team in the decision? If enough people in your organization aren’t involved in choosing its new system, you may see some backlash. A unilateral approach to this process can make stakeholders feel left out, resulting in a high probability for pushback as you’re transitioning from one system to another. To ensure you’ve gathered sufficient support from those who will be using it, get buy-in from your team members by consulting with them and soliciting their approval of any software platforms you’re seriously considering. Regardless of whatever operational efficiencies a new platform may bring to your organization, your team is liable to be unimpressed if they feel unrepresented in its selection. Since using any new software that you introduce will be an integral part of their jobs, you should regard your teammates as indispensable resources to be consulted before you reach a decision. 4. Forgetting About the Onboarding Phase It’s tempting to think that, after purchasing your new family services software, you can immediately replace your old system. But the transition isn’t quite that simple. Platform implementation can take weeks or even months, depending on your organization’s size, readiness, and other factors. Onboarding your team to the new system is a core part of the implementation process — and it takes up a generous portion of time. To make this transition smooth, it’s important that you select a software provider with an efficient and accommodating onboarding process. Find out how the providers you’re considering handle onboarding. How quickly can they get your team up and running on the platform? How flexible is the onboarding schedule? What will the provider expect from you and your team during the onboarding phase and other phases of implementation? These are the kinds of questions to prepare when you’re shopping around. 5. Expecting Software to Fix a Flawed Process Cloud technology has radically changed business and information management, resulting in abundant new tools for family services organizations. However, since technology is dependent on the people and processes that govern its use, your tools can’t fix broken methods. It would be a mistake to approach your search for a new platform without thoroughly understanding this point. Bear in mind that no software solution can repair an operation with inadequacies in its people or its process. Effective software simply takes what your organization does best and amplifies it, enhancing your clients’ experience. It saves your team time by expediting workflows, creating greater opportunities for assisting more families. But, before you pick up any new tool, it’s a good idea to review your organization from end to end. Try to identify sources of waste and address them well in advance of moving to any new system. This will help ensure the success of your new software. Choosing new software for your organization can be a demanding, stressful process full of promise and uncertainty. With an expanding multitude of options, family services professionals need to take care in their selection, as any change will often carry long-lasting and far-reaching consequences for their organization. By avoiding common mistakes in your search for a software platform, you can maximize the effectiveness of your solution, whatever you finally decide to do. To learn more about choosin If you’re on the lookout for a software solution for your family services organization, proceed with caution. Your choices have exploded in the last few years, but not all of your options are capable of meeting the needs of your organization or the people it serves. To identify and implement your ideal solution, it’s incumbent on you to take some steps to prepare for the change. An Expanding Variety of Family Services Software Family services organizations, like many of those in human services, have been relatively slow in adopting new technologies. This delay threatens to place the most vulnerable in society at an even greater risk than they already endure. With the growing need for real-time access to data about clients as well as internal matters, family services software solutions are proliferating and evolving to meet the changing needs of these organizations. As you consider adopting a new software platform for your organization, you’ll want to stay aware of the following pitfalls that could jeopardize its success. 1. Losing Focus on the Mission Whatever solution you decide on, your organization’s mission must remain your central concern. Software is simply a tool, and your tools should give you exactly what you need — no more and no less. Excessive functionality can present a problem to those looking for a speedy, uncomplicated process and user-friendly experiences. Unless you have in-house software developers or opt for a customized system, you’ll almost certainly be adapting an existing platform to suit the needs of your organization. This requires configurability. Configurability enables you to adjust prebuilt software capabilities, giving you freedom and flexibility to mold a platform to your specifications. Configurable software can be purpose-built for the industries and trades they serve, providing the control needed to help you avoid paying for consulting services that aren’t included with your original purchase. With family services software that can be configured to meet your particular needs, your organization’s mission becomes a much shorter hill to climb. 2. Choosing by Price or Perceived Popularity It’s remarkably easy to do a quick search online and pick a platform that lists high on the results page. It’s equally tempting to select your family services software based on price alone. But finding the right solution for your organization and its mission isn’t likely to be quite as simple as that. By allowing your choice to be guided by what “everybody else” does, you may be shortchanging your organization in the midst of the various options available today. The number of web-based apps dedicated to the needs of family services organizations has skyrocketed. However, brand recognition, bold marketing, and daring pricing tactics can obscure what are actually outdated programs that come up short and don’t deliver what your organization truly needs. Letting the allure of popularity or an outsized fixation on price compel your decision can easily lead you to paying a premium for antiquated technology. This common error could damage your organization and hinder its mission. Your organization’s unique objective imposes specific demands on whatever solution you ultimately choose. To determine what’s best equipped to advance your organization’s mission, product demos are often a vital step of the process. These valuable sessions make it possible to know if a well-known provider is offering essentially the same software that it came out with years ago, or if an unfamiliar new competitor has created the ideal app that your team deserves. 3. Neglecting to Consult the Whole Team Adding the right family services software to your technology stack can certainly help your organization fulfill its mission. But it also makes your team’s jobs easier — from the back office to the workers in the field. Your new solution will have a definite impact across your organization, so why not include your team in the decision? If enough people in your organization aren’t involved in choosing its new system, you may see some backlash. A unilateral approach to this process can make stakeholders feel left out, resulting in a high probability for pushback as you’re transitioning from one system to another. To ensure you’ve gathered sufficient support from those who will be using it, get buy-in from your team members by consulting with them and soliciting their approval of any software platforms you’re seriously considering. Regardless of whatever operational efficiencies a new platform may bring to your organization, your team is liable to be unimpressed if they feel unrepresented in its selection. Since using any new software that you introduce will be an integral part of their jobs, you should regard your teammates as indispensable resources to be consulted before you reach a decision. 4. Forgetting About the Onboarding Phase It’s tempting to think that, after purchasing your new family services software, you can immediately replace your old system. But the transition isn’t quite that simple. Platform implementation can take weeks or even months, depending on your organization’s size, readiness, and other factors. Onboarding your team to the new system is a core part of the implementation process — and it takes up a generous portion of time. To make this transition smooth, it’s important that you select a software provider with an efficient and accommodating onboarding process. Find out how the providers you’re considering handle onboarding. How quickly can they get your team up and running on the platform? How flexible is the onboarding schedule? What will the provider expect from you and your team during the onboarding phase and other phases of implementation? These are the kinds of questions to prepare when you’re shopping around. 5. Expecting Software to Fix a Flawed Process Cloud technology has radically changed business and information management, resulting in abundant new tools for family services organizations. However, since technology is dependent on the people and processes that govern its use, your tools can’t fix broken methods. It would be a mistake to approach your search for a new platform without thoroughly understanding this point. Bear in mind that no software solution can repair an operation with inadequacies in its people or its process. Effective software simply takes what your organization does best and amplifies it, enhancing your clients’ experience. It saves your team time by expediting workflows, creating greater opportunities for assisting more families. But, before you pick up any new tool, it’s a good idea to review your organization from end to end. Try to identify sources of waste and address them well in advance of moving to any new system. This will help ensure the success of your new software. Choosing new software for your organization can be a demanding, stressful process full of promise and uncertainty. With an expanding multitude of options, family services professionals need to take care in their selection, as any change will often carry long-lasting and far-reaching consequences for their organization. By avoiding common mistakes in your search for a software platform, you can maximize the effectiveness of your solution, whatever you finally decide to do. To learn more about choosin If you’re on the lookout for a software solution for your family services organization, proceed with caution. Your choices have exploded in the last few years, but not all of your options are capable of meeting the needs of your organization or the people it serves. To identify and implement your ideal solution, it’s incumbent on you to take some steps to prepare for the change. An Expanding Variety of Family Services Software Family services organizations, like many of those in human services, have been relatively slow in adopting new technologies. This delay threatens to place the most vulnerable in society at an even greater risk than they already endure. With the growing need for real-time access to data about clients as well as internal matters, family services software solutions are proliferating and evolving to meet the changing needs of these organizations. As you consider adopting a new software platform for your organization, you’ll want to stay aware of the following pitfalls that could jeopardize its success. 1. Losing Focus on the Mission Whatever solution you decide on, your organization’s mission must remain your central concern. Software is simply a tool, and your tools should give you exactly what you need — no more and no less. Excessive functionality can present a problem to those looking for a speedy, uncomplicated process and user-friendly experiences. Unless you have in-house software developers or opt for a customized system, you’ll almost certainly be adapting an existing platform to suit the needs of your organization. This requires configurability. Configurability enables you to adjust prebuilt software capabilities, giving you freedom and flexibility to mold a platform to your specifications. Configurable software can be purpose-built for the industries and trades they serve, providing the control needed to help you avoid paying for consulting services that aren’t included with your original purchase. With family services software that can be configured to meet your particular needs, your organization’s mission becomes a much shorter hill to climb. 2. Choosing by Price or Perceived Popularity It’s remarkably easy to do a quick search online and pick a platform that lists high on the results page. It’s equally tempting to select your family services software based on price alone. But finding the right solution for your organization and its mission isn’t likely to be quite as simple as that. By allowing your choice to be guided by what “everybody else” does, you may be shortchanging your organization in the midst of the various options available today. The number of web-based apps dedicated to the needs of family services organizations has skyrocketed. However, brand recognition, bold marketing, and daring pricing tactics can obscure what are actually outdated programs that come up short and don’t deliver what your organization truly needs. Letting the allure of popularity or an outsized fixation on price compel your decision can easily lead you to paying a premium for antiquated technology. This common error could damage your organization and hinder its mission. Your organization’s unique objective imposes specific demands on whatever solution you ultimately choose. To determine what’s best equipped to advance your organization’s mission, product demos are often a vital step of the process. These valuable sessions make it possible to know if a well-known provider is offering essentially the same software that it came out with years ago, or if an unfamiliar new competitor has created the ideal app that your team deserves. 3. Neglecting to Consult the Whole Team Adding the right family services software to your technology stack can certainly help your organization fulfill its mission. But it also makes your team’s jobs easier — from the back office to the workers in the field. Your new solution will have a definite impact across your organization, so why not include your team in the decision? If enough people in your organization aren’t involved in choosing its new system, you may see some backlash. A unilateral approach to this process can make stakeholders feel left out, resulting in a high probability for pushback as you’re transitioning from one system to another. To ensure you’ve gathered sufficient support from those who will be using it, get buy-in from your team members by consulting with them and soliciting their approval of any software platforms you’re seriously considering. Regardless of whatever operational efficiencies a new platform may bring to your organization, your team is liable to be unimpressed if they feel unrepresented in its selection. Since using any new software that you introduce will be an integral part of their jobs, you should regard your teammates as indispensable resources to be consulted before you reach a decision. 4. Forgetting About the Onboarding Phase It’s tempting to think that, after purchasing your new family services software, you can immediately replace your old system. But the transition isn’t quite that simple. Platform implementation can take weeks or even months, depending on your organization’s size, readiness, and other factors. Onboarding your team to the new system is a core part of the implementation process — and it takes up a generous portion of time. To make this transition smooth, it’s important that you select a software provider with an efficient and accommodating onboarding process. Find out how the providers you’re considering handle onboarding. How quickly can they get your team up and running on the platform? How flexible is the onboarding schedule? What will the provider expect from you and your team during the onboarding phase and other phases of implementation? These are the kinds of questions to prepare when you’re shopping around. 5. Expecting Software to Fix a Flawed Process Cloud technology has radically changed business and information management, resulting in abundant new tools for family services organizations. However, since technology is dependent on the people and processes that govern its use, your tools can’t fix broken methods. It would be a mistake to approach your search for a new platform without thoroughly understanding this point. Bear in mind that no software solution can repair an operation with inadequacies in its people or its process. Effective software simply takes what your organization does best and amplifies it, enhancing your clients’ experience. It saves your team time by expediting workflows, creating greater opportunities for assisting more families. But, before you pick up any new tool, it’s a good idea to review your organization from end to end. Try to identify sources of waste and address them well in advance of moving to any new system. This will help ensure the success of your new software. Choosing new software for your organization can be a demanding, stressful process full of promise and uncertainty. With an expanding multitude of options, family services professionals need to take care in their selection, as any change will often carry long-lasting and far-reaching consequences for their organization. By avoiding common mistakes in your search for a software platform, you can maximize the effectiveness of your solution, whatever you finally decide to do. To learn more about choosin If you’re on the lookout for a software solution for your family services organization, proceed with caution. Your choices have exploded in the last few years, but not all of your options are capable of meeting the needs of your organization or the people it serves. To identify and implement your ideal solution, it’s incumbent on you to take some steps to prepare for the change. An Expanding Variety of Family Services Software Family services organizations, like many of those in human services, have been relatively slow in adopting new technologies. This delay threatens to place the most vulnerable in society at an even greater risk than they already endure. With the growing need for real-time access to data about clients as well as internal matters, family services software solutions are proliferating and evolving to meet the changing needs of these organizations. As you consider adopting a new software platform for your organization, you’ll want to stay aware of the following pitfalls that could jeopardize its success. 1. Losing Focus on the Mission Whatever solution you decide on, your organization’s mission must remain your central concern. Software is simply a tool, and your tools should give you exactly what you need — no more and no less. Excessive functionality can present a problem to those looking for a speedy, uncomplicated process and user-friendly experiences. Unless you have in-house software developers or opt for a customized system, you’ll almost certainly be adapting an existing platform to suit the needs of your organization. This requires configurability. Configurability enables you to adjust prebuilt software capabilities, giving you freedom and flexibility to mold a platform to your specifications. Configurable software can be purpose-built for the industries and trades they serve, providing the control needed to help you avoid paying for consulting services that aren’t included with your original purchase. With family services software that can be configured to meet your particular needs, your organization’s mission becomes a much shorter hill to climb. 2. Choosing by Price or Perceived Popularity It’s remarkably easy to do a quick search online and pick a platform that lists high on the results page. It’s equally tempting to select your family services software based on price alone. But finding the right solution for your organization and its mission isn’t likely to be quite as simple as that. By allowing your choice to be guided by what “everybody else” does, you may be shortchanging your organization in the midst of the various options available today. The number of web-based apps dedicated to the needs of family services organizations has skyrocketed. However, brand recognition, bold marketing, and daring pricing tactics can obscure what are actually outdated programs that come up short and don’t deliver what your organization truly needs. Letting the allure of popularity or an outsized fixation on price compel your decision can easily lead you to paying a premium for antiquated technology. This common error could damage your organization and hinder its mission. Your organization’s unique objective imposes specific demands on whatever solution you ultimately choose. To determine what’s best equipped to advance your organization’s mission, product demos are often a vital step of the process. These valuable sessions make it possible to know if a well-known provider is offering essentially the same software that it came out with years ago, or if an unfamiliar new competitor has created the ideal app that your team deserves. 3. Neglecting to Consult the Whole Team Adding the right family services software to your technology stack can certainly help your organization fulfill its mission. But it also makes your team’s jobs easier — from the back office to the workers in the field. Your new solution will have a definite impact across your organization, so why not include your team in the decision? If enough people in your organization aren’t involved in choosing its new system, you may see some backlash. A unilateral approach to this process can make stakeholders feel left out, resulting in a high probability for pushback as you’re transitioning from one system to another. To ensure you’ve gathered sufficient support from those who will be using it, get buy-in from your team members by consulting with them and soliciting their approval of any software platforms you’re seriously considering. Regardless of whatever operational efficiencies a new platform may bring to your organization, your team is liable to be unimpressed if they feel unrepresented in its selection. Since using any new software that you introduce will be an integral part of their jobs, you should regard your teammates as indispensable resources to be consulted before you reach a decision. 4. Forgetting About the Onboarding Phase It’s tempting to think that, after purchasing your new family services software, you can immediately replace your old system. But the transition isn’t quite that simple. Platform implementation can take weeks or even months, depending on your organization’s size, readiness, and other factors. Onboarding your team to the new system is a core part of the implementation process — and it takes up a generous portion of time. To make this transition smooth, it’s important that you select a software provider with an efficient and accommodating onboarding process. Find out how the providers you’re considering handle onboarding. How quickly can they get your team up and running on the platform? How flexible is the onboarding schedule? What will the provider expect from you and your team during the onboarding phase and other phases of implementation? These are the kinds of questions to prepare when you’re shopping around. 5. Expecting Software to Fix a Flawed Process Cloud technology has radically changed business and information management, resulting in abundant new tools for family services organizations. However, since technology is dependent on the people and processes that govern its use, your tools can’t fix broken methods. It would be a mistake to approach your search for a new platform without thoroughly understanding this point. Bear in mind that no software solution can repair an operation with inadequacies in its people or its process. Effective software simply takes what your organization does best and amplifies it, enhancing your clients’ experience. It saves your team time by expediting workflows, creating greater opportunities for assisting more families. But, before you pick up any new tool, it’s a good idea to review your organization from end to end. Try to identify sources of waste and address them well in advance of moving to any new system. This will help ensure the success of your new software. Choosing new software for your organization can be a demanding, stressful process full of promise and uncertainty. With an expanding multitude of options, family services professionals need to take care in their selection, as any change will often carry long-lasting and far-reaching consequences for their organization. By avoiding common mistakes in your search for a software platform, you can maximize the effectiveness of your solution, whatever you finally decide to do. To learn more about choosin
by Brian Johnson 24 min read

Certifying a Foster Parent is One of the Most Consequential Decisions in Child Welfare

This causes recruiters to source the community for prospects, heartfelt PSAs to be playing on media outlets, and foster parent certification personnel to train and approve foster parents with haste. That’s not to say that they are negligent in any of those actions, but having spent nearly 13 years i...
This causes recruiters to source the community for prospects, heartfelt PSAs to be playing on media outlets, and foster parent certification personnel to train and approve foster parents with haste. That’s not to say that they are negligent in any of those actions, but having spent nearly 13 years in that very field, it makes me extremely nervous when looking at the process from the outside. Even when I was the Assistant Director for a fairly large foster parent and adoption program, certifying a new parent was perhaps one of the more perilous decisions what we would make on any given day. Foster Parents Certification is Rarely an Obvious Decision As long as I worked with youth and parents, I wanted to think that I’ve reached sort of the Farmers Insurance level of intelligence. You know the commercials with the tagline, “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.” In 13 years working these youth and families, I had indeed seen a thing or two. However, that rarely manifested itself in any kind of predictive ability as to how a particular foster parent was going to turn out. The variables were just too many and human nature rarely followed a predictable course. Foster parents who seem to check all of the boxes in what you would think would make an ideal foster parent often fail in spectacular fashion. Meanwhile, foster parents who are not always the most compliant or textbook can produce some of the most loving homes and in fact, wind up adopting with great success some of the most difficult youth. Agency compliance, it would seem, is not synonymous with a loving and therapeutic milieu. Who knew? We worked with excellent parents who seemed very focused on the per diems and yet, took excellent care of the youth in their homes. Meanwhile, rich homes in the suburbs thought they could buy affection and behavior compliance only to find out this was a path riddled with folly. However, foster parent performance is now what kept me up at night. Certifying a home was a frightful experience for me because I knew that every child welfare agency from coast to coast has certified a home at some point that led to terrible abuse. Any private provider or state agency can deny this all they want, but those in the industry know this to be true. The Right Tools Are Needed to Make the Right Decision Now, I was blessed to work within an agency that truly attempted to equip us with the best tools available and was very dedicated to outcomes and safety. I shudder to think of smaller agencies with smaller budgets trying to make these consequential decisions with less tools or less time. Yet, all of us were faced with the need to place youth. An urgent need as quite often, the youth is sitting in your office and you have no idea where he is going to go tonight. That’s ultimately pressure that drives the certification process. You need homes and you need them yesterday. Personally, I hope that advancements in artificial intelligence will come about that will be more accurate and predictive of foster parent success than us humans. Let the robots feel the ethical and moral responsibility for a change. In the meantime, the child welfare industry would do well to examine what tools are currently available that will buy frontline workers, foster parent recruiters/trainers and administrators more time to make the right decision. Tools that will aid the recruitment and certification process so that foster parents can be recruited in large enough numbers to ensure that the first placement is the right placement. The First Placement Can Be the Right Placement I know that child mental health and welfare services are complex, but if I could swing an ax and chop down just one tree it would be the one that makes that above statement true. Namely, that the first placement is the right placement. So much would be alleviated if we could make that a reality as an industry. It doesn’t get a lot of press, until it goes terribly wrong that is, but certifying a foster parent is one of the most consequential decisions in child welfare. That we can all labor to get that decision right with the best tools in the industry at our disposal would truly transform the face of child welfare. I didn’t always get it right and I’m guessing that neither did you. Yet, we both know the kids we serve deserved our very best. So a final salute to those out there on the frontlines making these decisions right now and I sincerely hope you are equipped with all the tools and time it takes to do your very best. This causes recruiters to source the community for prospects, heartfelt PSAs to be playing on media outlets, and foster parent certification personnel to train and approve foster parents with haste. That’s not to say that they are negligent in any of those actions, but having spent nearly 13 years in that very field, it makes me extremely nervous when looking at the process from the outside. Even when I was the Assistant Director for a fairly large foster parent and adoption program, certifying a new parent was perhaps one of the more perilous decisions what we would make on any given day. Foster Parents Certification is Rarely an Obvious Decision As long as I worked with youth and parents, I wanted to think that I’ve reached sort of the Farmers Insurance level of intelligence. You know the commercials with the tagline, “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.” In 13 years working these youth and families, I had indeed seen a thing or two. However, that rarely manifested itself in any kind of predictive ability as to how a particular foster parent was going to turn out. The variables were just too many and human nature rarely followed a predictable course. Foster parents who seem to check all of the boxes in what you would think would make an ideal foster parent often fail in spectacular fashion. Meanwhile, foster parents who are not always the most compliant or textbook can produce some of the most loving homes and in fact, wind up adopting with great success some of the most difficult youth. Agency compliance, it would seem, is not synonymous with a loving and therapeutic milieu. Who knew? We worked with excellent parents who seemed very focused on the per diems and yet, took excellent care of the youth in their homes. Meanwhile, rich homes in the suburbs thought they could buy affection and behavior compliance only to find out this was a path riddled with folly. However, foster parent performance is now what kept me up at night. Certifying a home was a frightful experience for me because I knew that every child welfare agency from coast to coast has certified a home at some point that led to terrible abuse. Any private provider or state agency can deny this all they want, but those in the industry know this to be true. The Right Tools Are Needed to Make the Right Decision Now, I was blessed to work within an agency that truly attempted to equip us with the best tools available and was very dedicated to outcomes and safety. I shudder to think of smaller agencies with smaller budgets trying to make these consequential decisions with less tools or less time. Yet, all of us were faced with the need to place youth. An urgent need as quite often, the youth is sitting in your office and you have no idea where he is going to go tonight. That’s ultimately pressure that drives the certification process. You need homes and you need them yesterday. Personally, I hope that advancements in artificial intelligence will come about that will be more accurate and predictive of foster parent success than us humans. Let the robots feel the ethical and moral responsibility for a change. In the meantime, the child welfare industry would do well to examine what tools are currently available that will buy frontline workers, foster parent recruiters/trainers and administrators more time to make the right decision. Tools that will aid the recruitment and certification process so that foster parents can be recruited in large enough numbers to ensure that the first placement is the right placement. The First Placement Can Be the Right Placement I know that child mental health and welfare services are complex, but if I could swing an ax and chop down just one tree it would be the one that makes that above statement true. Namely, that the first placement is the right placement. So much would be alleviated if we could make that a reality as an industry. It doesn’t get a lot of press, until it goes terribly wrong that is, but certifying a foster parent is one of the most consequential decisions in child welfare. That we can all labor to get that decision right with the best tools in the industry at our disposal would truly transform the face of child welfare. I didn’t always get it right and I’m guessing that neither did you. Yet, we both know the kids we serve deserved our very best. So a final salute to those out there on the frontlines making these decisions right now and I sincerely hope you are equipped with all the tools and time it takes to do your very best. This causes recruiters to source the community for prospects, heartfelt PSAs to be playing on media outlets, and foster parent certification personnel to train and approve foster parents with haste. That’s not to say that they are negligent in any of those actions, but having spent nearly 13 years in that very field, it makes me extremely nervous when looking at the process from the outside. Even when I was the Assistant Director for a fairly large foster parent and adoption program, certifying a new parent was perhaps one of the more perilous decisions what we would make on any given day. Foster Parents Certification is Rarely an Obvious Decision As long as I worked with youth and parents, I wanted to think that I’ve reached sort of the Farmers Insurance level of intelligence. You know the commercials with the tagline, “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.” In 13 years working these youth and families, I had indeed seen a thing or two. However, that rarely manifested itself in any kind of predictive ability as to how a particular foster parent was going to turn out. The variables were just too many and human nature rarely followed a predictable course. Foster parents who seem to check all of the boxes in what you would think would make an ideal foster parent often fail in spectacular fashion. Meanwhile, foster parents who are not always the most compliant or textbook can produce some of the most loving homes and in fact, wind up adopting with great success some of the most difficult youth. Agency compliance, it would seem, is not synonymous with a loving and therapeutic milieu. Who knew? We worked with excellent parents who seemed very focused on the per diems and yet, took excellent care of the youth in their homes. Meanwhile, rich homes in the suburbs thought they could buy affection and behavior compliance only to find out this was a path riddled with folly. However, foster parent performance is now what kept me up at night. Certifying a home was a frightful experience for me because I knew that every child welfare agency from coast to coast has certified a home at some point that led to terrible abuse. Any private provider or state agency can deny this all they want, but those in the industry know this to be true. The Right Tools Are Needed to Make the Right Decision Now, I was blessed to work within an agency that truly attempted to equip us with the best tools available and was very dedicated to outcomes and safety. I shudder to think of smaller agencies with smaller budgets trying to make these consequential decisions with less tools or less time. Yet, all of us were faced with the need to place youth. An urgent need as quite often, the youth is sitting in your office and you have no idea where he is going to go tonight. That’s ultimately pressure that drives the certification process. You need homes and you need them yesterday. Personally, I hope that advancements in artificial intelligence will come about that will be more accurate and predictive of foster parent success than us humans. Let the robots feel the ethical and moral responsibility for a change. In the meantime, the child welfare industry would do well to examine what tools are currently available that will buy frontline workers, foster parent recruiters/trainers and administrators more time to make the right decision. Tools that will aid the recruitment and certification process so that foster parents can be recruited in large enough numbers to ensure that the first placement is the right placement. The First Placement Can Be the Right Placement I know that child mental health and welfare services are complex, but if I could swing an ax and chop down just one tree it would be the one that makes that above statement true. Namely, that the first placement is the right placement. So much would be alleviated if we could make that a reality as an industry. It doesn’t get a lot of press, until it goes terribly wrong that is, but certifying a foster parent is one of the most consequential decisions in child welfare. That we can all labor to get that decision right with the best tools in the industry at our disposal would truly transform the face of child welfare. I didn’t always get it right and I’m guessing that neither did you. Yet, we both know the kids we serve deserved our very best. So a final salute to those out there on the frontlines making these decisions right now and I sincerely hope you are equipped with all the tools and time it takes to do your very best. This causes recruiters to source the community for prospects, heartfelt PSAs to be playing on media outlets, and foster parent certification personnel to train and approve foster parents with haste. That’s not to say that they are negligent in any of those actions, but having spent nearly 13 years in that very field, it makes me extremely nervous when looking at the process from the outside. Even when I was the Assistant Director for a fairly large foster parent and adoption program, certifying a new parent was perhaps one of the more perilous decisions what we would make on any given day. Foster Parents Certification is Rarely an Obvious Decision As long as I worked with youth and parents, I wanted to think that I’ve reached sort of the Farmers Insurance level of intelligence. You know the commercials with the tagline, “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.” In 13 years working these youth and families, I had indeed seen a thing or two. However, that rarely manifested itself in any kind of predictive ability as to how a particular foster parent was going to turn out. The variables were just too many and human nature rarely followed a predictable course. Foster parents who seem to check all of the boxes in what you would think would make an ideal foster parent often fail in spectacular fashion. Meanwhile, foster parents who are not always the most compliant or textbook can produce some of the most loving homes and in fact, wind up adopting with great success some of the most difficult youth. Agency compliance, it would seem, is not synonymous with a loving and therapeutic milieu. Who knew? We worked with excellent parents who seemed very focused on the per diems and yet, took excellent care of the youth in their homes. Meanwhile, rich homes in the suburbs thought they could buy affection and behavior compliance only to find out this was a path riddled with folly. However, foster parent performance is now what kept me up at night. Certifying a home was a frightful experience for me because I knew that every child welfare agency from coast to coast has certified a home at some point that led to terrible abuse. Any private provider or state agency can deny this all they want, but those in the industry know this to be true. The Right Tools Are Needed to Make the Right Decision Now, I was blessed to work within an agency that truly attempted to equip us with the best tools available and was very dedicated to outcomes and safety. I shudder to think of smaller agencies with smaller budgets trying to make these consequential decisions with less tools or less time. Yet, all of us were faced with the need to place youth. An urgent need as quite often, the youth is sitting in your office and you have no idea where he is going to go tonight. That’s ultimately pressure that drives the certification process. You need homes and you need them yesterday. Personally, I hope that advancements in artificial intelligence will come about that will be more accurate and predictive of foster parent success than us humans. Let the robots feel the ethical and moral responsibility for a change. In the meantime, the child welfare industry would do well to examine what tools are currently available that will buy frontline workers, foster parent recruiters/trainers and administrators more time to make the right decision. Tools that will aid the recruitment and certification process so that foster parents can be recruited in large enough numbers to ensure that the first placement is the right placement. The First Placement Can Be the Right Placement I know that child mental health and welfare services are complex, but if I could swing an ax and chop down just one tree it would be the one that makes that above statement true. Namely, that the first placement is the right placement. So much would be alleviated if we could make that a reality as an industry. It doesn’t get a lot of press, until it goes terribly wrong that is, but certifying a foster parent is one of the most consequential decisions in child welfare. That we can all labor to get that decision right with the best tools in the industry at our disposal would truly transform the face of child welfare. I didn’t always get it right and I’m guessing that neither did you. Yet, we both know the kids we serve deserved our very best. So a final salute to those out there on the frontlines making these decisions right now and I sincerely hope you are equipped with all the tools and time it takes to do your very best. This causes recruiters to source the community for prospects, heartfelt PSAs to be playing on media outlets, and foster parent certification personnel to train and approve foster parents with haste. That’s not to say that they are negligent in any of those actions, but having spent nearly 13 years in that very field, it makes me extremely nervous when looking at the process from the outside. Even when I was the Assistant Director for a fairly large foster parent and adoption program, certifying a new parent was perhaps one of the more perilous decisions what we would make on any given day. Foster Parents Certification is Rarely an Obvious Decision As long as I worked with youth and parents, I wanted to think that I’ve reached sort of the Farmers Insurance level of intelligence. You know the commercials with the tagline, “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.” In 13 years working these youth and families, I had indeed seen a thing or two. However, that rarely manifested itself in any kind of predictive ability as to how a particular foster parent was going to turn out. The variables were just too many and human nature rarely followed a predictable course. Foster parents who seem to check all of the boxes in what you would think would make an ideal foster parent often fail in spectacular fashion. Meanwhile, foster parents who are not always the most compliant or textbook can produce some of the most loving homes and in fact, wind up adopting with great success some of the most difficult youth. Agency compliance, it would seem, is not synonymous with a loving and therapeutic milieu. Who knew? We worked with excellent parents who seemed very focused on the per diems and yet, took excellent care of the youth in their homes. Meanwhile, rich homes in the suburbs thought they could buy affection and behavior compliance only to find out this was a path riddled with folly. However, foster parent performance is now what kept me up at night. Certifying a home was a frightful experience for me because I knew that every child welfare agency from coast to coast has certified a home at some point that led to terrible abuse. Any private provider or state agency can deny this all they want, but those in the industry know this to be true. The Right Tools Are Needed to Make the Right Decision Now, I was blessed to work within an agency that truly attempted to equip us with the best tools available and was very dedicated to outcomes and safety. I shudder to think of smaller agencies with smaller budgets trying to make these consequential decisions with less tools or less time. Yet, all of us were faced with the need to place youth. An urgent need as quite often, the youth is sitting in your office and you have no idea where he is going to go tonight. That’s ultimately pressure that drives the certification process. You need homes and you need them yesterday. Personally, I hope that advancements in artificial intelligence will come about that will be more accurate and predictive of foster parent success than us humans. Let the robots feel the ethical and moral responsibility for a change. In the meantime, the child welfare industry would do well to examine what tools are currently available that will buy frontline workers, foster parent recruiters/trainers and administrators more time to make the right decision. Tools that will aid the recruitment and certification process so that foster parents can be recruited in large enough numbers to ensure that the first placement is the right placement. The First Placement Can Be the Right Placement I know that child mental health and welfare services are complex, but if I could swing an ax and chop down just one tree it would be the one that makes that above statement true. Namely, that the first placement is the right placement. So much would be alleviated if we could make that a reality as an industry. It doesn’t get a lot of press, until it goes terribly wrong that is, but certifying a foster parent is one of the most consequential decisions in child welfare. That we can all labor to get that decision right with the best tools in the industry at our disposal would truly transform the face of child welfare. I didn’t always get it right and I’m guessing that neither did you. Yet, we both know the kids we serve deserved our very best. So a final salute to those out there on the frontlines making these decisions right now and I sincerely hope you are equipped with all the tools and time it takes to do your very best. This causes recruiters to source the community for prospects, heartfelt PSAs to be playing on media outlets, and foster parent certification personnel to train and approve foster parents with haste. That’s not to say that they are negligent in any of those actions, but having spent nearly 13 years in that very field, it makes me extremely nervous when looking at the process from the outside. Even when I was the Assistant Director for a fairly large foster parent and adoption program, certifying a new parent was perhaps one of the more perilous decisions what we would make on any given day. Foster Parents Certification is Rarely an Obvious Decision As long as I worked with youth and parents, I wanted to think that I’ve reached sort of the Farmers Insurance level of intelligence. You know the commercials with the tagline, “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.” In 13 years working these youth and families, I had indeed seen a thing or two. However, that rarely manifested itself in any kind of predictive ability as to how a particular foster parent was going to turn out. The variables were just too many and human nature rarely followed a predictable course. Foster parents who seem to check all of the boxes in what you would think would make an ideal foster parent often fail in spectacular fashion. Meanwhile, foster parents who are not always the most compliant or textbook can produce some of the most loving homes and in fact, wind up adopting with great success some of the most difficult youth. Agency compliance, it would seem, is not synonymous with a loving and therapeutic milieu. Who knew? We worked with excellent parents who seemed very focused on the per diems and yet, took excellent care of the youth in their homes. Meanwhile, rich homes in the suburbs thought they could buy affection and behavior compliance only to find out this was a path riddled with folly. However, foster parent performance is now what kept me up at night. Certifying a home was a frightful experience for me because I knew that every child welfare agency from coast to coast has certified a home at some point that led to terrible abuse. Any private provider or state agency can deny this all they want, but those in the industry know this to be true. The Right Tools Are Needed to Make the Right Decision Now, I was blessed to work within an agency that truly attempted to equip us with the best tools available and was very dedicated to outcomes and safety. I shudder to think of smaller agencies with smaller budgets trying to make these consequential decisions with less tools or less time. Yet, all of us were faced with the need to place youth. An urgent need as quite often, the youth is sitting in your office and you have no idea where he is going to go tonight. That’s ultimately pressure that drives the certification process. You need homes and you need them yesterday. Personally, I hope that advancements in artificial intelligence will come about that will be more accurate and predictive of foster parent success than us humans. Let the robots feel the ethical and moral responsibility for a change. In the meantime, the child welfare industry would do well to examine what tools are currently available that will buy frontline workers, foster parent recruiters/trainers and administrators more time to make the right decision. Tools that will aid the recruitment and certification process so that foster parents can be recruited in large enough numbers to ensure that the first placement is the right placement. The First Placement Can Be the Right Placement I know that child mental health and welfare services are complex, but if I could swing an ax and chop down just one tree it would be the one that makes that above statement true. Namely, that the first placement is the right placement. So much would be alleviated if we could make that a reality as an industry. It doesn’t get a lot of press, until it goes terribly wrong that is, but certifying a foster parent is one of the most consequential decisions in child welfare. That we can all labor to get that decision right with the best tools in the industry at our disposal would truly transform the face of child welfare. I didn’t always get it right and I’m guessing that neither did you. Yet, we both know the kids we serve deserved our very best. So a final salute to those out there on the frontlines making these decisions right now and I sincerely hope you are equipped with all the tools and time it takes to do your very best. This causes recruiters to source the community for prospects, heartfelt PSAs to be playing on media outlets, and foster parent certification personnel to train and approve foster parents with haste. That’s not to say that they are negligent in any of those actions, but having spent nearly 13 years in that very field, it makes me extremely nervous when looking at the process from the outside. Even when I was the Assistant Director for a fairly large foster parent and adoption program, certifying a new parent was perhaps one of the more perilous decisions what we would make on any given day. Foster Parents Certification is Rarely an Obvious Decision As long as I worked with youth and parents, I wanted to think that I’ve reached sort of the Farmers Insurance level of intelligence. You know the commercials with the tagline, “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.” In 13 years working these youth and families, I had indeed seen a thing or two. However, that rarely manifested itself in any kind of predictive ability as to how a particular foster parent was going to turn out. The variables were just too many and human nature rarely followed a predictable course. Foster parents who seem to check all of the boxes in what you would think would make an ideal foster parent often fail in spectacular fashion. Meanwhile, foster parents who are not always the most compliant or textbook can produce some of the most loving homes and in fact, wind up adopting with great success some of the most difficult youth. Agency compliance, it would seem, is not synonymous with a loving and therapeutic milieu. Who knew? We worked with excellent parents who seemed very focused on the per diems and yet, took excellent care of the youth in their homes. Meanwhile, rich homes in the suburbs thought they could buy affection and behavior compliance only to find out this was a path riddled with folly. However, foster parent performance is now what kept me up at night. Certifying a home was a frightful experience for me because I knew that every child welfare agency from coast to coast has certified a home at some point that led to terrible abuse. Any private provider or state agency can deny this all they want, but those in the industry know this to be true. The Right Tools Are Needed to Make the Right Decision Now, I was blessed to work within an agency that truly attempted to equip us with the best tools available and was very dedicated to outcomes and safety. I shudder to think of smaller agencies with smaller budgets trying to make these consequential decisions with less tools or less time. Yet, all of us were faced with the need to place youth. An urgent need as quite often, the youth is sitting in your office and you have no idea where he is going to go tonight. That’s ultimately pressure that drives the certification process. You need homes and you need them yesterday. Personally, I hope that advancements in artificial intelligence will come about that will be more accurate and predictive of foster parent success than us humans. Let the robots feel the ethical and moral responsibility for a change. In the meantime, the child welfare industry would do well to examine what tools are currently available that will buy frontline workers, foster parent recruiters/trainers and administrators more time to make the right decision. Tools that will aid the recruitment and certification process so that foster parents can be recruited in large enough numbers to ensure that the first placement is the right placement. The First Placement Can Be the Right Placement I know that child mental health and welfare services are complex, but if I could swing an ax and chop down just one tree it would be the one that makes that above statement true. Namely, that the first placement is the right placement. So much would be alleviated if we could make that a reality as an industry. It doesn’t get a lot of press, until it goes terribly wrong that is, but certifying a foster parent is one of the most consequential decisions in child welfare. That we can all labor to get that decision right with the best tools in the industry at our disposal would truly transform the face of child welfare. I didn’t always get it right and I’m guessing that neither did you. Yet, we both know the kids we serve deserved our very best. So a final salute to those out there on the frontlines making these decisions right now and I sincerely hope you are equipped with all the tools and time it takes to do your very best. This causes recruiters to source the community for prospects, heartfelt PSAs to be playing on media outlets, and foster parent certification personnel to train and approve foster parents with haste. That’s not to say that they are negligent in any of those actions, but having spent nearly 13 years in that very field, it makes me extremely nervous when looking at the process from the outside. Even when I was the Assistant Director for a fairly large foster parent and adoption program, certifying a new parent was perhaps one of the more perilous decisions what we would make on any given day. Foster Parents Certification is Rarely an Obvious Decision As long as I worked with youth and parents, I wanted to think that I’ve reached sort of the Farmers Insurance level of intelligence. You know the commercials with the tagline, “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.” In 13 years working these youth and families, I had indeed seen a thing or two. However, that rarely manifested itself in any kind of predictive ability as to how a particular foster parent was going to turn out. The variables were just too many and human nature rarely followed a predictable course. Foster parents who seem to check all of the boxes in what you would think would make an ideal foster parent often fail in spectacular fashion. Meanwhile, foster parents who are not always the most compliant or textbook can produce some of the most loving homes and in fact, wind up adopting with great success some of the most difficult youth. Agency compliance, it would seem, is not synonymous with a loving and therapeutic milieu. Who knew? We worked with excellent parents who seemed very focused on the per diems and yet, took excellent care of the youth in their homes. Meanwhile, rich homes in the suburbs thought they could buy affection and behavior compliance only to find out this was a path riddled with folly. However, foster parent performance is now what kept me up at night. Certifying a home was a frightful experience for me because I knew that every child welfare agency from coast to coast has certified a home at some point that led to terrible abuse. Any private provider or state agency can deny this all they want, but those in the industry know this to be true. The Right Tools Are Needed to Make the Right Decision Now, I was blessed to work within an agency that truly attempted to equip us with the best tools available and was very dedicated to outcomes and safety. I shudder to think of smaller agencies with smaller budgets trying to make these consequential decisions with less tools or less time. Yet, all of us were faced with the need to place youth. An urgent need as quite often, the youth is sitting in your office and you have no idea where he is going to go tonight. That’s ultimately pressure that drives the certification process. You need homes and you need them yesterday. Personally, I hope that advancements in artificial intelligence will come about that will be more accurate and predictive of foster parent success than us humans. Let the robots feel the ethical and moral responsibility for a change. In the meantime, the child welfare industry would do well to examine what tools are currently available that will buy frontline workers, foster parent recruiters/trainers and administrators more time to make the right decision. Tools that will aid the recruitment and certification process so that foster parents can be recruited in large enough numbers to ensure that the first placement is the right placement. The First Placement Can Be the Right Placement I know that child mental health and welfare services are complex, but if I could swing an ax and chop down just one tree it would be the one that makes that above statement true. Namely, that the first placement is the right placement. So much would be alleviated if we could make that a reality as an industry. It doesn’t get a lot of press, until it goes terribly wrong that is, but certifying a foster parent is one of the most consequential decisions in child welfare. That we can all labor to get that decision right with the best tools in the industry at our disposal would truly transform the face of child welfare. I didn’t always get it right and I’m guessing that neither did you. Yet, we both know the kids we serve deserved our very best. So a final salute to those out there on the frontlines making these decisions right now and I sincerely hope you are equipped with all the tools and time it takes to do your very best. This causes recruiters to source the community for prospects, heartfelt PSAs to be playing on media outlets, and foster parent certification personnel to train and approve foster parents with haste. That’s not to say that they are negligent in any of those actions, but having spent nearly 13 years in that very field, it makes me extremely nervous when looking at the process from the outside. Even when I was the Assistant Director for a fairly large foster parent and adoption program, certifying a new parent was perhaps one of the more perilous decisions what we would make on any given day. Foster Parents Certification is Rarely an Obvious Decision As long as I worked with youth and parents, I wanted to think that I’ve reached sort of the Farmers Insurance level of intelligence. You know the commercials with the tagline, “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.” In 13 years working these youth and families, I had indeed seen a thing or two. However, that rarely manifested itself in any kind of predictive ability as to how a particular foster parent was going to turn out. The variables were just too many and human nature rarely followed a predictable course. Foster parents who seem to check all of the boxes in what you would think would make an ideal foster parent often fail in spectacular fashion. Meanwhile, foster parents who are not always the most compliant or textbook can produce some of the most loving homes and in fact, wind up adopting with great success some of the most difficult youth. Agency compliance, it would seem, is not synonymous with a loving and therapeutic milieu. Who knew? We worked with excellent parents who seemed very focused on the per diems and yet, took excellent care of the youth in their homes. Meanwhile, rich homes in the suburbs thought they could buy affection and behavior compliance only to find out this was a path riddled with folly. However, foster parent performance is now what kept me up at night. Certifying a home was a frightful experience for me because I knew that every child welfare agency from coast to coast has certified a home at some point that led to terrible abuse. Any private provider or state agency can deny this all they want, but those in the industry know this to be true. The Right Tools Are Needed to Make the Right Decision Now, I was blessed to work within an agency that truly attempted to equip us with the best tools available and was very dedicated to outcomes and safety. I shudder to think of smaller agencies with smaller budgets trying to make these consequential decisions with less tools or less time. Yet, all of us were faced with the need to place youth. An urgent need as quite often, the youth is sitting in your office and you have no idea where he is going to go tonight. That’s ultimately pressure that drives the certification process. You need homes and you need them yesterday. Personally, I hope that advancements in artificial intelligence will come about that will be more accurate and predictive of foster parent success than us humans. Let the robots feel the ethical and moral responsibility for a change. In the meantime, the child welfare industry would do well to examine what tools are currently available that will buy frontline workers, foster parent recruiters/trainers and administrators more time to make the right decision. Tools that will aid the recruitment and certification process so that foster parents can be recruited in large enough numbers to ensure that the first placement is the right placement. The First Placement Can Be the Right Placement I know that child mental health and welfare services are complex, but if I could swing an ax and chop down just one tree it would be the one that makes that above statement true. Namely, that the first placement is the right placement. So much would be alleviated if we could make that a reality as an industry. It doesn’t get a lot of press, until it goes terribly wrong that is, but certifying a foster parent is one of the most consequential decisions in child welfare. That we can all labor to get that decision right with the best tools in the industry at our disposal would truly transform the face of child welfare. I didn’t always get it right and I’m guessing that neither did you. Yet, we both know the kids we serve deserved our very best. So a final salute to those out there on the frontlines making these decisions right now and I sincerely hope you are equipped with all the tools and time it takes to do your very best. This causes recruiters to source the community for prospects, heartfelt PSAs to be playing on media outlets, and foster parent certification personnel to train and approve foster parents with haste. That’s not to say that they are negligent in any of those actions, but having spent nearly 13 years in that very field, it makes me extremely nervous when looking at the process from the outside. Even when I was the Assistant Director for a fairly large foster parent and adoption program, certifying a new parent was perhaps one of the more perilous decisions what we would make on any given day. Foster Parents Certification is Rarely an Obvious Decision As long as I worked with youth and parents, I wanted to think that I’ve reached sort of the Farmers Insurance level of intelligence. You know the commercials with the tagline, “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.” In 13 years working these youth and families, I had indeed seen a thing or two. However, that rarely manifested itself in any kind of predictive ability as to how a particular foster parent was going to turn out. The variables were just too many and human nature rarely followed a predictable course. Foster parents who seem to check all of the boxes in what you would think would make an ideal foster parent often fail in spectacular fashion. Meanwhile, foster parents who are not always the most compliant or textbook can produce some of the most loving homes and in fact, wind up adopting with great success some of the most difficult youth. Agency compliance, it would seem, is not synonymous with a loving and therapeutic milieu. Who knew? We worked with excellent parents who seemed very focused on the per diems and yet, took excellent care of the youth in their homes. Meanwhile, rich homes in the suburbs thought they could buy affection and behavior compliance only to find out this was a path riddled with folly. However, foster parent performance is now what kept me up at night. Certifying a home was a frightful experience for me because I knew that every child welfare agency from coast to coast has certified a home at some point that led to terrible abuse. Any private provider or state agency can deny this all they want, but those in the industry know this to be true. The Right Tools Are Needed to Make the Right Decision Now, I was blessed to work within an agency that truly attempted to equip us with the best tools available and was very dedicated to outcomes and safety. I shudder to think of smaller agencies with smaller budgets trying to make these consequential decisions with less tools or less time. Yet, all of us were faced with the need to place youth. An urgent need as quite often, the youth is sitting in your office and you have no idea where he is going to go tonight. That’s ultimately pressure that drives the certification process. You need homes and you need them yesterday. Personally, I hope that advancements in artificial intelligence will come about that will be more accurate and predictive of foster parent success than us humans. Let the robots feel the ethical and moral responsibility for a change. In the meantime, the child welfare industry would do well to examine what tools are currently available that will buy frontline workers, foster parent recruiters/trainers and administrators more time to make the right decision. Tools that will aid the recruitment and certification process so that foster parents can be recruited in large enough numbers to ensure that the first placement is the right placement. The First Placement Can Be the Right Placement I know that child mental health and welfare services are complex, but if I could swing an ax and chop down just one tree it would be the one that makes that above statement true. Namely, that the first placement is the right placement. So much would be alleviated if we could make that a reality as an industry. It doesn’t get a lot of press, until it goes terribly wrong that is, but certifying a foster parent is one of the most consequential decisions in child welfare. That we can all labor to get that decision right with the best tools in the industry at our disposal would truly transform the face of child welfare. I didn’t always get it right and I’m guessing that neither did you. Yet, we both know the kids we serve deserved our very best. So a final salute to those out there on the frontlines making these decisions right now and I sincerely hope you are equipped with all the tools and time it takes to do your very best.
by Jeff Edwards 16 min read

How a Plastic Garbage Bag Became the Unofficial Luggage of Foster Care

It was a scene that I would see play out time and time again during my 13-year career, serving some of our nation’s most vulnerable youth. A child comes into care needing foster care, and the youth and their caseworker shows up with a couple of black garbage bags full of everything the child owned i...
It was a scene that I would see play out time and time again during my 13-year career, serving some of our nation’s most vulnerable youth. A child comes into care needing foster care, and the youth and their caseworker shows up with a couple of black garbage bags full of everything the child owned in the world. Now, I’m not really trying to play on your sympathy by asking you to imagine what it must feel like for a child to be removed from their family and watch their clothes and toys bagged up like trash. That such a scene requires empathy is self-evident, but not the point of this article. I Tried the Obvious Only To Fail Lest you think I was incompetent, let me reassure you that I tried all of the obvious answers. As a private provider, I didn’t have access to the youth prior to their arrival in state custody and their placement with our agency. So in that regard, there was nothing I could do to stop children from showing up with all their belongings in a garbage bag. Starting where I could, we put out the call for donated luggage, and the public readily supplied us with enough baggage to get the job done. My next step was to issue the directive that any child who showed up in our building with garbage bags as luggage was to be issued proper luggage. As a seasoned manager, I knew how to deliver the message with the appropriate intensity, and as a Marine veteran, my directions were rarely ignored. Moreover, I knew this was taking place as I would see staff helping the youth with luggage, and so it was a win in my mind. I’d solved the problem, or so I thought. I Kept Seeing Garbage Bags Over and Over The first time I knew that I had a bigger problem on my hands was when I started to notice youth, who I personally knew received luggage, sitting in our lobby with their belongings in black garbage bags. I question the staff and the foster parents, and no one seems to know what happened to the luggage. You see, it is common for youths placed into foster care to occasionally have to replace from one home to the next. Somewhere between them leaving our office for their first home and returning to the office to go to another new home, the plastic garbage bag came back to life. In some cases, it was just that their personal belongings grew in number, and thus, they had a nice piece of luggage next to two or three garbage bags full of belongings. So we would give them some more luggage, and lo and behold, the garbage bags kept coming back. A National Problem with No Easy Solution In doing some basic research, I realized that I was not alone with regards to this problem. It’s a nationwide issue in the foster care system, and there are actually countless nonprofits that exist solely for the purpose of providing foster kids with luggage. There was actually no shortage of luggage in the foster care system, and rather, a lack of a functional answer seemed to elude us all. Towards the end of my time in foster care, I had finally settled on the belief both the adults and youth involved were just overwhelmed. As much as I tried to impute the importance of a piece of luggage on foster parents and staff, the truth of the matter was that when a child is disrupting a home, the luggage isn’t your primary concern. Sadly, and perhaps most tragic, no matter how much we try to impress upon the youth that they have value, as does their belongings, they don’t believe it enough. The youths themselves readily load up their belongings in a garbage bag as they feel a garbage bag is indeed where their property belongs. I don’t accept defeat easily, but Hefty and Glad would be thrilled to know their garbage bags were sturdy enough to take me down. It was a scene that I would see play out time and time again during my 13-year career, serving some of our nation’s most vulnerable youth. A child comes into care needing foster care, and the youth and their caseworker shows up with a couple of black garbage bags full of everything the child owned in the world. Now, I’m not really trying to play on your sympathy by asking you to imagine what it must feel like for a child to be removed from their family and watch their clothes and toys bagged up like trash. That such a scene requires empathy is self-evident, but not the point of this article. I Tried the Obvious Only To Fail Lest you think I was incompetent, let me reassure you that I tried all of the obvious answers. As a private provider, I didn’t have access to the youth prior to their arrival in state custody and their placement with our agency. So in that regard, there was nothing I could do to stop children from showing up with all their belongings in a garbage bag. Starting where I could, we put out the call for donated luggage, and the public readily supplied us with enough baggage to get the job done. My next step was to issue the directive that any child who showed up in our building with garbage bags as luggage was to be issued proper luggage. As a seasoned manager, I knew how to deliver the message with the appropriate intensity, and as a Marine veteran, my directions were rarely ignored. Moreover, I knew this was taking place as I would see staff helping the youth with luggage, and so it was a win in my mind. I’d solved the problem, or so I thought. I Kept Seeing Garbage Bags Over and Over The first time I knew that I had a bigger problem on my hands was when I started to notice youth, who I personally knew received luggage, sitting in our lobby with their belongings in black garbage bags. I question the staff and the foster parents, and no one seems to know what happened to the luggage. You see, it is common for youths placed into foster care to occasionally have to replace from one home to the next. Somewhere between them leaving our office for their first home and returning to the office to go to another new home, the plastic garbage bag came back to life. In some cases, it was just that their personal belongings grew in number, and thus, they had a nice piece of luggage next to two or three garbage bags full of belongings. So we would give them some more luggage, and lo and behold, the garbage bags kept coming back. A National Problem with No Easy Solution In doing some basic research, I realized that I was not alone with regards to this problem. It’s a nationwide issue in the foster care system, and there are actually countless nonprofits that exist solely for the purpose of providing foster kids with luggage. There was actually no shortage of luggage in the foster care system, and rather, a lack of a functional answer seemed to elude us all. Towards the end of my time in foster care, I had finally settled on the belief both the adults and youth involved were just overwhelmed. As much as I tried to impute the importance of a piece of luggage on foster parents and staff, the truth of the matter was that when a child is disrupting a home, the luggage isn’t your primary concern. Sadly, and perhaps most tragic, no matter how much we try to impress upon the youth that they have value, as does their belongings, they don’t believe it enough. The youths themselves readily load up their belongings in a garbage bag as they feel a garbage bag is indeed where their property belongs. I don’t accept defeat easily, but Hefty and Glad would be thrilled to know their garbage bags were sturdy enough to take me down. It was a scene that I would see play out time and time again during my 13-year career, serving some of our nation’s most vulnerable youth. A child comes into care needing foster care, and the youth and their caseworker shows up with a couple of black garbage bags full of everything the child owned in the world. Now, I’m not really trying to play on your sympathy by asking you to imagine what it must feel like for a child to be removed from their family and watch their clothes and toys bagged up like trash. That such a scene requires empathy is self-evident, but not the point of this article. I Tried the Obvious Only To Fail Lest you think I was incompetent, let me reassure you that I tried all of the obvious answers. As a private provider, I didn’t have access to the youth prior to their arrival in state custody and their placement with our agency. So in that regard, there was nothing I could do to stop children from showing up with all their belongings in a garbage bag. Starting where I could, we put out the call for donated luggage, and the public readily supplied us with enough baggage to get the job done. My next step was to issue the directive that any child who showed up in our building with garbage bags as luggage was to be issued proper luggage. As a seasoned manager, I knew how to deliver the message with the appropriate intensity, and as a Marine veteran, my directions were rarely ignored. Moreover, I knew this was taking place as I would see staff helping the youth with luggage, and so it was a win in my mind. I’d solved the problem, or so I thought. I Kept Seeing Garbage Bags Over and Over The first time I knew that I had a bigger problem on my hands was when I started to notice youth, who I personally knew received luggage, sitting in our lobby with their belongings in black garbage bags. I question the staff and the foster parents, and no one seems to know what happened to the luggage. You see, it is common for youths placed into foster care to occasionally have to replace from one home to the next. Somewhere between them leaving our office for their first home and returning to the office to go to another new home, the plastic garbage bag came back to life. In some cases, it was just that their personal belongings grew in number, and thus, they had a nice piece of luggage next to two or three garbage bags full of belongings. So we would give them some more luggage, and lo and behold, the garbage bags kept coming back. A National Problem with No Easy Solution In doing some basic research, I realized that I was not alone with regards to this problem. It’s a nationwide issue in the foster care system, and there are actually countless nonprofits that exist solely for the purpose of providing foster kids with luggage. There was actually no shortage of luggage in the foster care system, and rather, a lack of a functional answer seemed to elude us all. Towards the end of my time in foster care, I had finally settled on the belief both the adults and youth involved were just overwhelmed. As much as I tried to impute the importance of a piece of luggage on foster parents and staff, the truth of the matter was that when a child is disrupting a home, the luggage isn’t your primary concern. Sadly, and perhaps most tragic, no matter how much we try to impress upon the youth that they have value, as does their belongings, they don’t believe it enough. The youths themselves readily load up their belongings in a garbage bag as they feel a garbage bag is indeed where their property belongs. I don’t accept defeat easily, but Hefty and Glad would be thrilled to know their garbage bags were sturdy enough to take me down. It was a scene that I would see play out time and time again during my 13-year career, serving some of our nation’s most vulnerable youth. A child comes into care needing foster care, and the youth and their caseworker shows up with a couple of black garbage bags full of everything the child owned in the world. Now, I’m not really trying to play on your sympathy by asking you to imagine what it must feel like for a child to be removed from their family and watch their clothes and toys bagged up like trash. That such a scene requires empathy is self-evident, but not the point of this article. I Tried the Obvious Only To Fail Lest you think I was incompetent, let me reassure you that I tried all of the obvious answers. As a private provider, I didn’t have access to the youth prior to their arrival in state custody and their placement with our agency. So in that regard, there was nothing I could do to stop children from showing up with all their belongings in a garbage bag. Starting where I could, we put out the call for donated luggage, and the public readily supplied us with enough baggage to get the job done. My next step was to issue the directive that any child who showed up in our building with garbage bags as luggage was to be issued proper luggage. As a seasoned manager, I knew how to deliver the message with the appropriate intensity, and as a Marine veteran, my directions were rarely ignored. Moreover, I knew this was taking place as I would see staff helping the youth with luggage, and so it was a win in my mind. I’d solved the problem, or so I thought. I Kept Seeing Garbage Bags Over and Over The first time I knew that I had a bigger problem on my hands was when I started to notice youth, who I personally knew received luggage, sitting in our lobby with their belongings in black garbage bags. I question the staff and the foster parents, and no one seems to know what happened to the luggage. You see, it is common for youths placed into foster care to occasionally have to replace from one home to the next. Somewhere between them leaving our office for their first home and returning to the office to go to another new home, the plastic garbage bag came back to life. In some cases, it was just that their personal belongings grew in number, and thus, they had a nice piece of luggage next to two or three garbage bags full of belongings. So we would give them some more luggage, and lo and behold, the garbage bags kept coming back. A National Problem with No Easy Solution In doing some basic research, I realized that I was not alone with regards to this problem. It’s a nationwide issue in the foster care system, and there are actually countless nonprofits that exist solely for the purpose of providing foster kids with luggage. There was actually no shortage of luggage in the foster care system, and rather, a lack of a functional answer seemed to elude us all. Towards the end of my time in foster care, I had finally settled on the belief both the adults and youth involved were just overwhelmed. As much as I tried to impute the importance of a piece of luggage on foster parents and staff, the truth of the matter was that when a child is disrupting a home, the luggage isn’t your primary concern. Sadly, and perhaps most tragic, no matter how much we try to impress upon the youth that they have value, as does their belongings, they don’t believe it enough. The youths themselves readily load up their belongings in a garbage bag as they feel a garbage bag is indeed where their property belongs. I don’t accept defeat easily, but Hefty and Glad would be thrilled to know their garbage bags were sturdy enough to take me down. It was a scene that I would see play out time and time again during my 13-year career, serving some of our nation’s most vulnerable youth. A child comes into care needing foster care, and the youth and their caseworker shows up with a couple of black garbage bags full of everything the child owned in the world. Now, I’m not really trying to play on your sympathy by asking you to imagine what it must feel like for a child to be removed from their family and watch their clothes and toys bagged up like trash. That such a scene requires empathy is self-evident, but not the point of this article. I Tried the Obvious Only To Fail Lest you think I was incompetent, let me reassure you that I tried all of the obvious answers. As a private provider, I didn’t have access to the youth prior to their arrival in state custody and their placement with our agency. So in that regard, there was nothing I could do to stop children from showing up with all their belongings in a garbage bag. Starting where I could, we put out the call for donated luggage, and the public readily supplied us with enough baggage to get the job done. My next step was to issue the directive that any child who showed up in our building with garbage bags as luggage was to be issued proper luggage. As a seasoned manager, I knew how to deliver the message with the appropriate intensity, and as a Marine veteran, my directions were rarely ignored. Moreover, I knew this was taking place as I would see staff helping the youth with luggage, and so it was a win in my mind. I’d solved the problem, or so I thought. I Kept Seeing Garbage Bags Over and Over The first time I knew that I had a bigger problem on my hands was when I started to notice youth, who I personally knew received luggage, sitting in our lobby with their belongings in black garbage bags. I question the staff and the foster parents, and no one seems to know what happened to the luggage. You see, it is common for youths placed into foster care to occasionally have to replace from one home to the next. Somewhere between them leaving our office for their first home and returning to the office to go to another new home, the plastic garbage bag came back to life. In some cases, it was just that their personal belongings grew in number, and thus, they had a nice piece of luggage next to two or three garbage bags full of belongings. So we would give them some more luggage, and lo and behold, the garbage bags kept coming back. A National Problem with No Easy Solution In doing some basic research, I realized that I was not alone with regards to this problem. It’s a nationwide issue in the foster care system, and there are actually countless nonprofits that exist solely for the purpose of providing foster kids with luggage. There was actually no shortage of luggage in the foster care system, and rather, a lack of a functional answer seemed to elude us all. Towards the end of my time in foster care, I had finally settled on the belief both the adults and youth involved were just overwhelmed. As much as I tried to impute the importance of a piece of luggage on foster parents and staff, the truth of the matter was that when a child is disrupting a home, the luggage isn’t your primary concern. Sadly, and perhaps most tragic, no matter how much we try to impress upon the youth that they have value, as does their belongings, they don’t believe it enough. The youths themselves readily load up their belongings in a garbage bag as they feel a garbage bag is indeed where their property belongs. I don’t accept defeat easily, but Hefty and Glad would be thrilled to know their garbage bags were sturdy enough to take me down. It was a scene that I would see play out time and time again during my 13-year career, serving some of our nation’s most vulnerable youth. A child comes into care needing foster care, and the youth and their caseworker shows up with a couple of black garbage bags full of everything the child owned in the world. Now, I’m not really trying to play on your sympathy by asking you to imagine what it must feel like for a child to be removed from their family and watch their clothes and toys bagged up like trash. That such a scene requires empathy is self-evident, but not the point of this article. I Tried the Obvious Only To Fail Lest you think I was incompetent, let me reassure you that I tried all of the obvious answers. As a private provider, I didn’t have access to the youth prior to their arrival in state custody and their placement with our agency. So in that regard, there was nothing I could do to stop children from showing up with all their belongings in a garbage bag. Starting where I could, we put out the call for donated luggage, and the public readily supplied us with enough baggage to get the job done. My next step was to issue the directive that any child who showed up in our building with garbage bags as luggage was to be issued proper luggage. As a seasoned manager, I knew how to deliver the message with the appropriate intensity, and as a Marine veteran, my directions were rarely ignored. Moreover, I knew this was taking place as I would see staff helping the youth with luggage, and so it was a win in my mind. I’d solved the problem, or so I thought. I Kept Seeing Garbage Bags Over and Over The first time I knew that I had a bigger problem on my hands was when I started to notice youth, who I personally knew received luggage, sitting in our lobby with their belongings in black garbage bags. I question the staff and the foster parents, and no one seems to know what happened to the luggage. You see, it is common for youths placed into foster care to occasionally have to replace from one home to the next. Somewhere between them leaving our office for their first home and returning to the office to go to another new home, the plastic garbage bag came back to life. In some cases, it was just that their personal belongings grew in number, and thus, they had a nice piece of luggage next to two or three garbage bags full of belongings. So we would give them some more luggage, and lo and behold, the garbage bags kept coming back. A National Problem with No Easy Solution In doing some basic research, I realized that I was not alone with regards to this problem. It’s a nationwide issue in the foster care system, and there are actually countless nonprofits that exist solely for the purpose of providing foster kids with luggage. There was actually no shortage of luggage in the foster care system, and rather, a lack of a functional answer seemed to elude us all. Towards the end of my time in foster care, I had finally settled on the belief both the adults and youth involved were just overwhelmed. As much as I tried to impute the importance of a piece of luggage on foster parents and staff, the truth of the matter was that when a child is disrupting a home, the luggage isn’t your primary concern. Sadly, and perhaps most tragic, no matter how much we try to impress upon the youth that they have value, as does their belongings, they don’t believe it enough. The youths themselves readily load up their belongings in a garbage bag as they feel a garbage bag is indeed where their property belongs. I don’t accept defeat easily, but Hefty and Glad would be thrilled to know their garbage bags were sturdy enough to take me down. It was a scene that I would see play out time and time again during my 13-year career, serving some of our nation’s most vulnerable youth. A child comes into care needing foster care, and the youth and their caseworker shows up with a couple of black garbage bags full of everything the child owned in the world. Now, I’m not really trying to play on your sympathy by asking you to imagine what it must feel like for a child to be removed from their family and watch their clothes and toys bagged up like trash. That such a scene requires empathy is self-evident, but not the point of this article. I Tried the Obvious Only To Fail Lest you think I was incompetent, let me reassure you that I tried all of the obvious answers. As a private provider, I didn’t have access to the youth prior to their arrival in state custody and their placement with our agency. So in that regard, there was nothing I could do to stop children from showing up with all their belongings in a garbage bag. Starting where I could, we put out the call for donated luggage, and the public readily supplied us with enough baggage to get the job done. My next step was to issue the directive that any child who showed up in our building with garbage bags as luggage was to be issued proper luggage. As a seasoned manager, I knew how to deliver the message with the appropriate intensity, and as a Marine veteran, my directions were rarely ignored. Moreover, I knew this was taking place as I would see staff helping the youth with luggage, and so it was a win in my mind. I’d solved the problem, or so I thought. I Kept Seeing Garbage Bags Over and Over The first time I knew that I had a bigger problem on my hands was when I started to notice youth, who I personally knew received luggage, sitting in our lobby with their belongings in black garbage bags. I question the staff and the foster parents, and no one seems to know what happened to the luggage. You see, it is common for youths placed into foster care to occasionally have to replace from one home to the next. Somewhere between them leaving our office for their first home and returning to the office to go to another new home, the plastic garbage bag came back to life. In some cases, it was just that their personal belongings grew in number, and thus, they had a nice piece of luggage next to two or three garbage bags full of belongings. So we would give them some more luggage, and lo and behold, the garbage bags kept coming back. A National Problem with No Easy Solution In doing some basic research, I realized that I was not alone with regards to this problem. It’s a nationwide issue in the foster care system, and there are actually countless nonprofits that exist solely for the purpose of providing foster kids with luggage. There was actually no shortage of luggage in the foster care system, and rather, a lack of a functional answer seemed to elude us all. Towards the end of my time in foster care, I had finally settled on the belief both the adults and youth involved were just overwhelmed. As much as I tried to impute the importance of a piece of luggage on foster parents and staff, the truth of the matter was that when a child is disrupting a home, the luggage isn’t your primary concern. Sadly, and perhaps most tragic, no matter how much we try to impress upon the youth that they have value, as does their belongings, they don’t believe it enough. The youths themselves readily load up their belongings in a garbage bag as they feel a garbage bag is indeed where their property belongs. I don’t accept defeat easily, but Hefty and Glad would be thrilled to know their garbage bags were sturdy enough to take me down. It was a scene that I would see play out time and time again during my 13-year career, serving some of our nation’s most vulnerable youth. A child comes into care needing foster care, and the youth and their caseworker shows up with a couple of black garbage bags full of everything the child owned in the world. Now, I’m not really trying to play on your sympathy by asking you to imagine what it must feel like for a child to be removed from their family and watch their clothes and toys bagged up like trash. That such a scene requires empathy is self-evident, but not the point of this article. I Tried the Obvious Only To Fail Lest you think I was incompetent, let me reassure you that I tried all of the obvious answers. As a private provider, I didn’t have access to the youth prior to their arrival in state custody and their placement with our agency. So in that regard, there was nothing I could do to stop children from showing up with all their belongings in a garbage bag. Starting where I could, we put out the call for donated luggage, and the public readily supplied us with enough baggage to get the job done. My next step was to issue the directive that any child who showed up in our building with garbage bags as luggage was to be issued proper luggage. As a seasoned manager, I knew how to deliver the message with the appropriate intensity, and as a Marine veteran, my directions were rarely ignored. Moreover, I knew this was taking place as I would see staff helping the youth with luggage, and so it was a win in my mind. I’d solved the problem, or so I thought. I Kept Seeing Garbage Bags Over and Over The first time I knew that I had a bigger problem on my hands was when I started to notice youth, who I personally knew received luggage, sitting in our lobby with their belongings in black garbage bags. I question the staff and the foster parents, and no one seems to know what happened to the luggage. You see, it is common for youths placed into foster care to occasionally have to replace from one home to the next. Somewhere between them leaving our office for their first home and returning to the office to go to another new home, the plastic garbage bag came back to life. In some cases, it was just that their personal belongings grew in number, and thus, they had a nice piece of luggage next to two or three garbage bags full of belongings. So we would give them some more luggage, and lo and behold, the garbage bags kept coming back. A National Problem with No Easy Solution In doing some basic research, I realized that I was not alone with regards to this problem. It’s a nationwide issue in the foster care system, and there are actually countless nonprofits that exist solely for the purpose of providing foster kids with luggage. There was actually no shortage of luggage in the foster care system, and rather, a lack of a functional answer seemed to elude us all. Towards the end of my time in foster care, I had finally settled on the belief both the adults and youth involved were just overwhelmed. As much as I tried to impute the importance of a piece of luggage on foster parents and staff, the truth of the matter was that when a child is disrupting a home, the luggage isn’t your primary concern. Sadly, and perhaps most tragic, no matter how much we try to impress upon the youth that they have value, as does their belongings, they don’t believe it enough. The youths themselves readily load up their belongings in a garbage bag as they feel a garbage bag is indeed where their property belongs. I don’t accept defeat easily, but Hefty and Glad would be thrilled to know their garbage bags were sturdy enough to take me down. It was a scene that I would see play out time and time again during my 13-year career, serving some of our nation’s most vulnerable youth. A child comes into care needing foster care, and the youth and their caseworker shows up with a couple of black garbage bags full of everything the child owned in the world. Now, I’m not really trying to play on your sympathy by asking you to imagine what it must feel like for a child to be removed from their family and watch their clothes and toys bagged up like trash. That such a scene requires empathy is self-evident, but not the point of this article. I Tried the Obvious Only To Fail Lest you think I was incompetent, let me reassure you that I tried all of the obvious answers. As a private provider, I didn’t have access to the youth prior to their arrival in state custody and their placement with our agency. So in that regard, there was nothing I could do to stop children from showing up with all their belongings in a garbage bag. Starting where I could, we put out the call for donated luggage, and the public readily supplied us with enough baggage to get the job done. My next step was to issue the directive that any child who showed up in our building with garbage bags as luggage was to be issued proper luggage. As a seasoned manager, I knew how to deliver the message with the appropriate intensity, and as a Marine veteran, my directions were rarely ignored. Moreover, I knew this was taking place as I would see staff helping the youth with luggage, and so it was a win in my mind. I’d solved the problem, or so I thought. I Kept Seeing Garbage Bags Over and Over The first time I knew that I had a bigger problem on my hands was when I started to notice youth, who I personally knew received luggage, sitting in our lobby with their belongings in black garbage bags. I question the staff and the foster parents, and no one seems to know what happened to the luggage. You see, it is common for youths placed into foster care to occasionally have to replace from one home to the next. Somewhere between them leaving our office for their first home and returning to the office to go to another new home, the plastic garbage bag came back to life. In some cases, it was just that their personal belongings grew in number, and thus, they had a nice piece of luggage next to two or three garbage bags full of belongings. So we would give them some more luggage, and lo and behold, the garbage bags kept coming back. A National Problem with No Easy Solution In doing some basic research, I realized that I was not alone with regards to this problem. It’s a nationwide issue in the foster care system, and there are actually countless nonprofits that exist solely for the purpose of providing foster kids with luggage. There was actually no shortage of luggage in the foster care system, and rather, a lack of a functional answer seemed to elude us all. Towards the end of my time in foster care, I had finally settled on the belief both the adults and youth involved were just overwhelmed. As much as I tried to impute the importance of a piece of luggage on foster parents and staff, the truth of the matter was that when a child is disrupting a home, the luggage isn’t your primary concern. Sadly, and perhaps most tragic, no matter how much we try to impress upon the youth that they have value, as does their belongings, they don’t believe it enough. The youths themselves readily load up their belongings in a garbage bag as they feel a garbage bag is indeed where their property belongs. I don’t accept defeat easily, but Hefty and Glad would be thrilled to know their garbage bags were sturdy enough to take me down. It was a scene that I would see play out time and time again during my 13-year career, serving some of our nation’s most vulnerable youth. A child comes into care needing foster care, and the youth and their caseworker shows up with a couple of black garbage bags full of everything the child owned in the world. Now, I’m not really trying to play on your sympathy by asking you to imagine what it must feel like for a child to be removed from their family and watch their clothes and toys bagged up like trash. That such a scene requires empathy is self-evident, but not the point of this article. I Tried the Obvious Only To Fail Lest you think I was incompetent, let me reassure you that I tried all of the obvious answers. As a private provider, I didn’t have access to the youth prior to their arrival in state custody and their placement with our agency. So in that regard, there was nothing I could do to stop children from showing up with all their belongings in a garbage bag. Starting where I could, we put out the call for donated luggage, and the public readily supplied us with enough baggage to get the job done. My next step was to issue the directive that any child who showed up in our building with garbage bags as luggage was to be issued proper luggage. As a seasoned manager, I knew how to deliver the message with the appropriate intensity, and as a Marine veteran, my directions were rarely ignored. Moreover, I knew this was taking place as I would see staff helping the youth with luggage, and so it was a win in my mind. I’d solved the problem, or so I thought. I Kept Seeing Garbage Bags Over and Over The first time I knew that I had a bigger problem on my hands was when I started to notice youth, who I personally knew received luggage, sitting in our lobby with their belongings in black garbage bags. I question the staff and the foster parents, and no one seems to know what happened to the luggage. You see, it is common for youths placed into foster care to occasionally have to replace from one home to the next. Somewhere between them leaving our office for their first home and returning to the office to go to another new home, the plastic garbage bag came back to life. In some cases, it was just that their personal belongings grew in number, and thus, they had a nice piece of luggage next to two or three garbage bags full of belongings. So we would give them some more luggage, and lo and behold, the garbage bags kept coming back. A National Problem with No Easy Solution In doing some basic research, I realized that I was not alone with regards to this problem. It’s a nationwide issue in the foster care system, and there are actually countless nonprofits that exist solely for the purpose of providing foster kids with luggage. There was actually no shortage of luggage in the foster care system, and rather, a lack of a functional answer seemed to elude us all. Towards the end of my time in foster care, I had finally settled on the belief both the adults and youth involved were just overwhelmed. As much as I tried to impute the importance of a piece of luggage on foster parents and staff, the truth of the matter was that when a child is disrupting a home, the luggage isn’t your primary concern. Sadly, and perhaps most tragic, no matter how much we try to impress upon the youth that they have value, as does their belongings, they don’t believe it enough. The youths themselves readily load up their belongings in a garbage bag as they feel a garbage bag is indeed where their property belongs. I don’t accept defeat easily, but Hefty and Glad would be thrilled to know their garbage bags were sturdy enough to take me down.
by Jeff Edwards 14 min read

Understanding the CCWIS Final Rule

On June 2, 2016, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) issued a final Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) rule to replace the Statewide and Tribal Automated Child Welfare Information Systems (S/TACWIS) rule, which for more than twenty years had been the vehicle throug...
On June 2, 2016, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) issued a final Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) rule to replace the Statewide and Tribal Automated Child Welfare Information Systems (S/TACWIS) rule, which for more than twenty years had been the vehicle through which states sought federal assistance for funding child welfare technology efforts. This brief provides our analysis of the final rule and its implications for states and tribes seeking to modernize their technology portfolios. Note: States should consult with ACF regarding definitive interpretations of the rule. CCWIS as a Force for Innovation A key purpose of the CCWIS rule is to specify how states and tribes may obtain federal financial participation (FFP) for a CCWIS project. As with S/TACWIS, ACF determines CCWIS compliance through review and approval of a state’s or tribe’s Advance Planning Document (APD) or a Notice of Intent (for projects below the APD threshold), as well as through periodic federal monitoring. The rule does not change the APD process or the FFP rate, which remains at 50% of project costs. CCWIS, like its predecessor, is optional for states and tribes. The nature of what qualifies as a “project,” however, has changed significantly with CCWIS. Under the old S/TACWIS rules, FFP was only available to a state or tribe that developed and operated a single, large system that all public and private child welfare workers used. Moreover, ACF mandated fifty-one distinct functions that any such monolithic S/TACWIS system had to support. Under the new CCWIS rule, ACF does not specify such functional requirements. Instead, IV-E agencies are encouraged to innovate in keeping with their individual needs and practices. For example, states and tribes may obtain FFP to build smaller, more modular subsets of functionality aligned with their practice models, or perhaps with an incremental legacy system replacement plan. They might choose to obtain certain types of data through automated integrations rather than collect it within the child welfare application itself. From an implementation perspective, they might opt for a project approach based on modern Agile software development techniques, as California and other states have done. The states’ early responses to CCWIS—as embodied in procurements issued around the time the final rule was released—have already shown an eagerness to experiment with such new approaches. On June 2, 2016, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) issued a final Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) rule to replace the Statewide and Tribal Automated Child Welfare Information Systems (S/TACWIS) rule, which for more than twenty years had been the vehicle through which states sought federal assistance for funding child welfare technology efforts. This brief provides our analysis of the final rule and its implications for states and tribes seeking to modernize their technology portfolios. Note: States should consult with ACF regarding definitive interpretations of the rule. CCWIS as a Force for Innovation A key purpose of the CCWIS rule is to specify how states and tribes may obtain federal financial participation (FFP) for a CCWIS project. As with S/TACWIS, ACF determines CCWIS compliance through review and approval of a state’s or tribe’s Advance Planning Document (APD) or a Notice of Intent (for projects below the APD threshold), as well as through periodic federal monitoring. The rule does not change the APD process or the FFP rate, which remains at 50% of project costs. CCWIS, like its predecessor, is optional for states and tribes. The nature of what qualifies as a “project,” however, has changed significantly with CCWIS. Under the old S/TACWIS rules, FFP was only available to a state or tribe that developed and operated a single, large system that all public and private child welfare workers used. Moreover, ACF mandated fifty-one distinct functions that any such monolithic S/TACWIS system had to support. Under the new CCWIS rule, ACF does not specify such functional requirements. Instead, IV-E agencies are encouraged to innovate in keeping with their individual needs and practices. For example, states and tribes may obtain FFP to build smaller, more modular subsets of functionality aligned with their practice models, or perhaps with an incremental legacy system replacement plan. They might choose to obtain certain types of data through automated integrations rather than collect it within the child welfare application itself. From an implementation perspective, they might opt for a project approach based on modern Agile software development techniques, as California and other states have done. The states’ early responses to CCWIS—as embodied in procurements issued around the time the final rule was released—have already shown an eagerness to experiment with such new approaches. On June 2, 2016, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) issued a final Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) rule to replace the Statewide and Tribal Automated Child Welfare Information Systems (S/TACWIS) rule, which for more than twenty years had been the vehicle through which states sought federal assistance for funding child welfare technology efforts. This brief provides our analysis of the final rule and its implications for states and tribes seeking to modernize their technology portfolios. Note: States should consult with ACF regarding definitive interpretations of the rule. CCWIS as a Force for Innovation A key purpose of the CCWIS rule is to specify how states and tribes may obtain federal financial participation (FFP) for a CCWIS project. As with S/TACWIS, ACF determines CCWIS compliance through review and approval of a state’s or tribe’s Advance Planning Document (APD) or a Notice of Intent (for projects below the APD threshold), as well as through periodic federal monitoring. The rule does not change the APD process or the FFP rate, which remains at 50% of project costs. CCWIS, like its predecessor, is optional for states and tribes. The nature of what qualifies as a “project,” however, has changed significantly with CCWIS. Under the old S/TACWIS rules, FFP was only available to a state or tribe that developed and operated a single, large system that all public and private child welfare workers used. Moreover, ACF mandated fifty-one distinct functions that any such monolithic S/TACWIS system had to support. Under the new CCWIS rule, ACF does not specify such functional requirements. Instead, IV-E agencies are encouraged to innovate in keeping with their individual needs and practices. For example, states and tribes may obtain FFP to build smaller, more modular subsets of functionality aligned with their practice models, or perhaps with an incremental legacy system replacement plan. They might choose to obtain certain types of data through automated integrations rather than collect it within the child welfare application itself. From an implementation perspective, they might opt for a project approach based on modern Agile software development techniques, as California and other states have done. The states’ early responses to CCWIS—as embodied in procurements issued around the time the final rule was released—have already shown an eagerness to experiment with such new approaches. On June 2, 2016, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) issued a final Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) rule to replace the Statewide and Tribal Automated Child Welfare Information Systems (S/TACWIS) rule, which for more than twenty years had been the vehicle through which states sought federal assistance for funding child welfare technology efforts. This brief provides our analysis of the final rule and its implications for states and tribes seeking to modernize their technology portfolios. Note: States should consult with ACF regarding definitive interpretations of the rule. CCWIS as a Force for Innovation A key purpose of the CCWIS rule is to specify how states and tribes may obtain federal financial participation (FFP) for a CCWIS project. As with S/TACWIS, ACF determines CCWIS compliance through review and approval of a state’s or tribe’s Advance Planning Document (APD) or a Notice of Intent (for projects below the APD threshold), as well as through periodic federal monitoring. The rule does not change the APD process or the FFP rate, which remains at 50% of project costs. CCWIS, like its predecessor, is optional for states and tribes. The nature of what qualifies as a “project,” however, has changed significantly with CCWIS. Under the old S/TACWIS rules, FFP was only available to a state or tribe that developed and operated a single, large system that all public and private child welfare workers used. Moreover, ACF mandated fifty-one distinct functions that any such monolithic S/TACWIS system had to support. Under the new CCWIS rule, ACF does not specify such functional requirements. Instead, IV-E agencies are encouraged to innovate in keeping with their individual needs and practices. For example, states and tribes may obtain FFP to build smaller, more modular subsets of functionality aligned with their practice models, or perhaps with an incremental legacy system replacement plan. They might choose to obtain certain types of data through automated integrations rather than collect it within the child welfare application itself. From an implementation perspective, they might opt for a project approach based on modern Agile software development techniques, as California and other states have done. The states’ early responses to CCWIS—as embodied in procurements issued around the time the final rule was released—have already shown an eagerness to experiment with such new approaches. On June 2, 2016, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) issued a final Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) rule to replace the Statewide and Tribal Automated Child Welfare Information Systems (S/TACWIS) rule, which for more than twenty years had been the vehicle through which states sought federal assistance for funding child welfare technology efforts. This brief provides our analysis of the final rule and its implications for states and tribes seeking to modernize their technology portfolios. Note: States should consult with ACF regarding definitive interpretations of the rule. CCWIS as a Force for Innovation A key purpose of the CCWIS rule is to specify how states and tribes may obtain federal financial participation (FFP) for a CCWIS project. As with S/TACWIS, ACF determines CCWIS compliance through review and approval of a state’s or tribe’s Advance Planning Document (APD) or a Notice of Intent (for projects below the APD threshold), as well as through periodic federal monitoring. The rule does not change the APD process or the FFP rate, which remains at 50% of project costs. CCWIS, like its predecessor, is optional for states and tribes. The nature of what qualifies as a “project,” however, has changed significantly with CCWIS. Under the old S/TACWIS rules, FFP was only available to a state or tribe that developed and operated a single, large system that all public and private child welfare workers used. Moreover, ACF mandated fifty-one distinct functions that any such monolithic S/TACWIS system had to support. Under the new CCWIS rule, ACF does not specify such functional requirements. Instead, IV-E agencies are encouraged to innovate in keeping with their individual needs and practices. For example, states and tribes may obtain FFP to build smaller, more modular subsets of functionality aligned with their practice models, or perhaps with an incremental legacy system replacement plan. They might choose to obtain certain types of data through automated integrations rather than collect it within the child welfare application itself. From an implementation perspective, they might opt for a project approach based on modern Agile software development techniques, as California and other states have done. The states’ early responses to CCWIS—as embodied in procurements issued around the time the final rule was released—have already shown an eagerness to experiment with such new approaches. On June 2, 2016, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) issued a final Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) rule to replace the Statewide and Tribal Automated Child Welfare Information Systems (S/TACWIS) rule, which for more than twenty years had been the vehicle through which states sought federal assistance for funding child welfare technology efforts. This brief provides our analysis of the final rule and its implications for states and tribes seeking to modernize their technology portfolios. Note: States should consult with ACF regarding definitive interpretations of the rule. CCWIS as a Force for Innovation A key purpose of the CCWIS rule is to specify how states and tribes may obtain federal financial participation (FFP) for a CCWIS project. As with S/TACWIS, ACF determines CCWIS compliance through review and approval of a state’s or tribe’s Advance Planning Document (APD) or a Notice of Intent (for projects below the APD threshold), as well as through periodic federal monitoring. The rule does not change the APD process or the FFP rate, which remains at 50% of project costs. CCWIS, like its predecessor, is optional for states and tribes. The nature of what qualifies as a “project,” however, has changed significantly with CCWIS. Under the old S/TACWIS rules, FFP was only available to a state or tribe that developed and operated a single, large system that all public and private child welfare workers used. Moreover, ACF mandated fifty-one distinct functions that any such monolithic S/TACWIS system had to support. Under the new CCWIS rule, ACF does not specify such functional requirements. Instead, IV-E agencies are encouraged to innovate in keeping with their individual needs and practices. For example, states and tribes may obtain FFP to build smaller, more modular subsets of functionality aligned with their practice models, or perhaps with an incremental legacy system replacement plan. They might choose to obtain certain types of data through automated integrations rather than collect it within the child welfare application itself. From an implementation perspective, they might opt for a project approach based on modern Agile software development techniques, as California and other states have done. The states’ early responses to CCWIS—as embodied in procurements issued around the time the final rule was released—have already shown an eagerness to experiment with such new approaches. On June 2, 2016, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) issued a final Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) rule to replace the Statewide and Tribal Automated Child Welfare Information Systems (S/TACWIS) rule, which for more than twenty years had been the vehicle through which states sought federal assistance for funding child welfare technology efforts. This brief provides our analysis of the final rule and its implications for states and tribes seeking to modernize their technology portfolios. Note: States should consult with ACF regarding definitive interpretations of the rule. CCWIS as a Force for Innovation A key purpose of the CCWIS rule is to specify how states and tribes may obtain federal financial participation (FFP) for a CCWIS project. As with S/TACWIS, ACF determines CCWIS compliance through review and approval of a state’s or tribe’s Advance Planning Document (APD) or a Notice of Intent (for projects below the APD threshold), as well as through periodic federal monitoring. The rule does not change the APD process or the FFP rate, which remains at 50% of project costs. CCWIS, like its predecessor, is optional for states and tribes. The nature of what qualifies as a “project,” however, has changed significantly with CCWIS. Under the old S/TACWIS rules, FFP was only available to a state or tribe that developed and operated a single, large system that all public and private child welfare workers used. Moreover, ACF mandated fifty-one distinct functions that any such monolithic S/TACWIS system had to support. Under the new CCWIS rule, ACF does not specify such functional requirements. Instead, IV-E agencies are encouraged to innovate in keeping with their individual needs and practices. For example, states and tribes may obtain FFP to build smaller, more modular subsets of functionality aligned with their practice models, or perhaps with an incremental legacy system replacement plan. They might choose to obtain certain types of data through automated integrations rather than collect it within the child welfare application itself. From an implementation perspective, they might opt for a project approach based on modern Agile software development techniques, as California and other states have done. The states’ early responses to CCWIS—as embodied in procurements issued around the time the final rule was released—have already shown an eagerness to experiment with such new approaches. On June 2, 2016, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) issued a final Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) rule to replace the Statewide and Tribal Automated Child Welfare Information Systems (S/TACWIS) rule, which for more than twenty years had been the vehicle through which states sought federal assistance for funding child welfare technology efforts. This brief provides our analysis of the final rule and its implications for states and tribes seeking to modernize their technology portfolios. Note: States should consult with ACF regarding definitive interpretations of the rule. CCWIS as a Force for Innovation A key purpose of the CCWIS rule is to specify how states and tribes may obtain federal financial participation (FFP) for a CCWIS project. As with S/TACWIS, ACF determines CCWIS compliance through review and approval of a state’s or tribe’s Advance Planning Document (APD) or a Notice of Intent (for projects below the APD threshold), as well as through periodic federal monitoring. The rule does not change the APD process or the FFP rate, which remains at 50% of project costs. CCWIS, like its predecessor, is optional for states and tribes. The nature of what qualifies as a “project,” however, has changed significantly with CCWIS. Under the old S/TACWIS rules, FFP was only available to a state or tribe that developed and operated a single, large system that all public and private child welfare workers used. Moreover, ACF mandated fifty-one distinct functions that any such monolithic S/TACWIS system had to support. Under the new CCWIS rule, ACF does not specify such functional requirements. Instead, IV-E agencies are encouraged to innovate in keeping with their individual needs and practices. For example, states and tribes may obtain FFP to build smaller, more modular subsets of functionality aligned with their practice models, or perhaps with an incremental legacy system replacement plan. They might choose to obtain certain types of data through automated integrations rather than collect it within the child welfare application itself. From an implementation perspective, they might opt for a project approach based on modern Agile software development techniques, as California and other states have done. The states’ early responses to CCWIS—as embodied in procurements issued around the time the final rule was released—have already shown an eagerness to experiment with such new approaches. On June 2, 2016, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) issued a final Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) rule to replace the Statewide and Tribal Automated Child Welfare Information Systems (S/TACWIS) rule, which for more than twenty years had been the vehicle through which states sought federal assistance for funding child welfare technology efforts. This brief provides our analysis of the final rule and its implications for states and tribes seeking to modernize their technology portfolios. Note: States should consult with ACF regarding definitive interpretations of the rule. CCWIS as a Force for Innovation A key purpose of the CCWIS rule is to specify how states and tribes may obtain federal financial participation (FFP) for a CCWIS project. As with S/TACWIS, ACF determines CCWIS compliance through review and approval of a state’s or tribe’s Advance Planning Document (APD) or a Notice of Intent (for projects below the APD threshold), as well as through periodic federal monitoring. The rule does not change the APD process or the FFP rate, which remains at 50% of project costs. CCWIS, like its predecessor, is optional for states and tribes. The nature of what qualifies as a “project,” however, has changed significantly with CCWIS. Under the old S/TACWIS rules, FFP was only available to a state or tribe that developed and operated a single, large system that all public and private child welfare workers used. Moreover, ACF mandated fifty-one distinct functions that any such monolithic S/TACWIS system had to support. Under the new CCWIS rule, ACF does not specify such functional requirements. Instead, IV-E agencies are encouraged to innovate in keeping with their individual needs and practices. For example, states and tribes may obtain FFP to build smaller, more modular subsets of functionality aligned with their practice models, or perhaps with an incremental legacy system replacement plan. They might choose to obtain certain types of data through automated integrations rather than collect it within the child welfare application itself. From an implementation perspective, they might opt for a project approach based on modern Agile software development techniques, as California and other states have done. The states’ early responses to CCWIS—as embodied in procurements issued around the time the final rule was released—have already shown an eagerness to experiment with such new approaches. On June 2, 2016, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) issued a final Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) rule to replace the Statewide and Tribal Automated Child Welfare Information Systems (S/TACWIS) rule, which for more than twenty years had been the vehicle through which states sought federal assistance for funding child welfare technology efforts. This brief provides our analysis of the final rule and its implications for states and tribes seeking to modernize their technology portfolios. Note: States should consult with ACF regarding definitive interpretations of the rule. CCWIS as a Force for Innovation A key purpose of the CCWIS rule is to specify how states and tribes may obtain federal financial participation (FFP) for a CCWIS project. As with S/TACWIS, ACF determines CCWIS compliance through review and approval of a state’s or tribe’s Advance Planning Document (APD) or a Notice of Intent (for projects below the APD threshold), as well as through periodic federal monitoring. The rule does not change the APD process or the FFP rate, which remains at 50% of project costs. CCWIS, like its predecessor, is optional for states and tribes. The nature of what qualifies as a “project,” however, has changed significantly with CCWIS. Under the old S/TACWIS rules, FFP was only available to a state or tribe that developed and operated a single, large system that all public and private child welfare workers used. Moreover, ACF mandated fifty-one distinct functions that any such monolithic S/TACWIS system had to support. Under the new CCWIS rule, ACF does not specify such functional requirements. Instead, IV-E agencies are encouraged to innovate in keeping with their individual needs and practices. For example, states and tribes may obtain FFP to build smaller, more modular subsets of functionality aligned with their practice models, or perhaps with an incremental legacy system replacement plan. They might choose to obtain certain types of data through automated integrations rather than collect it within the child welfare application itself. From an implementation perspective, they might opt for a project approach based on modern Agile software development techniques, as California and other states have done. The states’ early responses to CCWIS—as embodied in procurements issued around the time the final rule was released—have already shown an eagerness to experiment with such new approaches.
by Sample HubSpot User 8 min read

Keep Children On Track and In School

Teachers face a challenge to keep children focused on their lesson plans. For some, the student's needs exceed their expertise, time for individual attention, or the resources and support to help children with special needs. That’s where you come in. Wraparound services address the underlying factor...
Teachers face a challenge to keep children focused on their lesson plans. For some, the student's needs exceed their expertise, time for individual attention, or the resources and support to help children with special needs. That’s where you come in. Wraparound services address the underlying factors in the child’s life. Effective wraparound services don’t happen in a vacuum. They are built with a collaboration of committed representatives from the organizations that serve the child. They could include: School-linked and school-based services Non-educational or supportive services Parental or caregiver involvement Program funders Business leaders Law enforcement agencies Health care providers Mental health/substance abuse service providers Other organizations with needed resources or expertise Teachers face a challenge to keep children focused on their lesson plans. For some, the student's needs exceed their expertise, time for individual attention, or the resources and support to help children with special needs. That’s where you come in. Wraparound services address the underlying factors in the child’s life. Effective wraparound services don’t happen in a vacuum. They are built with a collaboration of committed representatives from the organizations that serve the child. They could include: School-linked and school-based services Non-educational or supportive services Parental or caregiver involvement Program funders Business leaders Law enforcement agencies Health care providers Mental health/substance abuse service providers Other organizations with needed resources or expertise Teachers face a challenge to keep children focused on their lesson plans. For some, the student's needs exceed their expertise, time for individual attention, or the resources and support to help children with special needs. That’s where you come in. Wraparound services address the underlying factors in the child’s life. Effective wraparound services don’t happen in a vacuum. They are built with a collaboration of committed representatives from the organizations that serve the child. They could include: School-linked and school-based services Non-educational or supportive services Parental or caregiver involvement Program funders Business leaders Law enforcement agencies Health care providers Mental health/substance abuse service providers Other organizations with needed resources or expertise Teachers face a challenge to keep children focused on their lesson plans. For some, the student's needs exceed their expertise, time for individual attention, or the resources and support to help children with special needs. That’s where you come in. Wraparound services address the underlying factors in the child’s life. Effective wraparound services don’t happen in a vacuum. They are built with a collaboration of committed representatives from the organizations that serve the child. They could include: School-linked and school-based services Non-educational or supportive services Parental or caregiver involvement Program funders Business leaders Law enforcement agencies Health care providers Mental health/substance abuse service providers Other organizations with needed resources or expertise Teachers face a challenge to keep children focused on their lesson plans. For some, the student's needs exceed their expertise, time for individual attention, or the resources and support to help children with special needs. That’s where you come in. Wraparound services address the underlying factors in the child’s life. Effective wraparound services don’t happen in a vacuum. They are built with a collaboration of committed representatives from the organizations that serve the child. They could include: School-linked and school-based services Non-educational or supportive services Parental or caregiver involvement Program funders Business leaders Law enforcement agencies Health care providers Mental health/substance abuse service providers Other organizations with needed resources or expertise Teachers face a challenge to keep children focused on their lesson plans. For some, the student's needs exceed their expertise, time for individual attention, or the resources and support to help children with special needs. That’s where you come in. Wraparound services address the underlying factors in the child’s life. Effective wraparound services don’t happen in a vacuum. They are built with a collaboration of committed representatives from the organizations that serve the child. They could include: School-linked and school-based services Non-educational or supportive services Parental or caregiver involvement Program funders Business leaders Law enforcement agencies Health care providers Mental health/substance abuse service providers Other organizations with needed resources or expertise Teachers face a challenge to keep children focused on their lesson plans. For some, the student's needs exceed their expertise, time for individual attention, or the resources and support to help children with special needs. That’s where you come in. Wraparound services address the underlying factors in the child’s life. Effective wraparound services don’t happen in a vacuum. They are built with a collaboration of committed representatives from the organizations that serve the child. They could include: School-linked and school-based services Non-educational or supportive services Parental or caregiver involvement Program funders Business leaders Law enforcement agencies Health care providers Mental health/substance abuse service providers Other organizations with needed resources or expertise Teachers face a challenge to keep children focused on their lesson plans. For some, the student's needs exceed their expertise, time for individual attention, or the resources and support to help children with special needs. That’s where you come in. Wraparound services address the underlying factors in the child’s life. Effective wraparound services don’t happen in a vacuum. They are built with a collaboration of committed representatives from the organizations that serve the child. They could include: School-linked and school-based services Non-educational or supportive services Parental or caregiver involvement Program funders Business leaders Law enforcement agencies Health care providers Mental health/substance abuse service providers Other organizations with needed resources or expertise Teachers face a challenge to keep children focused on their lesson plans. For some, the student's needs exceed their expertise, time for individual attention, or the resources and support to help children with special needs. That’s where you come in. Wraparound services address the underlying factors in the child’s life. Effective wraparound services don’t happen in a vacuum. They are built with a collaboration of committed representatives from the organizations that serve the child. They could include: School-linked and school-based services Non-educational or supportive services Parental or caregiver involvement Program funders Business leaders Law enforcement agencies Health care providers Mental health/substance abuse service providers Other organizations with needed resources or expertise Teachers face a challenge to keep children focused on their lesson plans. For some, the student's needs exceed their expertise, time for individual attention, or the resources and support to help children with special needs. That’s where you come in. Wraparound services address the underlying factors in the child’s life. Effective wraparound services don’t happen in a vacuum. They are built with a collaboration of committed representatives from the organizations that serve the child. They could include: School-linked and school-based services Non-educational or supportive services Parental or caregiver involvement Program funders Business leaders Law enforcement agencies Health care providers Mental health/substance abuse service providers Other organizations with needed resources or expertise
by Maryellen Hess Cameron 2 min read

How Collaborations Can Help You Improve Outcomes

For the vast majority of teenagers turning into adults, turning 21 represents a time of wonder and excitement. This is a time of planning for the future that includes job training, college applications and attendance, and learning practical skills. However, for the more than 400,000 children current...
For the vast majority of teenagers turning into adults, turning 21 represents a time of wonder and excitement. This is a time of planning for the future that includes job training, college applications and attendance, and learning practical skills. However, for the more than 400,000 children currently in foster care in the United States, this is not always a time of wonder and excitement, but rather of anxiety and the unknown. Aging out of the foster care system is not always a seamless process due to the lack of resources that are often available for transition services, however, when child welfare workers use their strong cross-systems collaboration skills, foster care children in transition are often far more prepared to enter the adult world than they would otherwise be. What is cross-systems collaboration? Cross-systems collaboration is the process to which professionals partner with other professionals and agencies for the wellbeing of the client. Because many children who enter the foster care system have experienced trauma, may have mental health disorders or behavioral concerns, and often have few skills to utilize, the child welfare workers job is to support the entire person and not just find them housing. Picture this: a 15 year old boy enters a foster care facility after his mother dies of an overdose. This is a vulnerable time for him that could result in his own substance use, lack of finishing high school, and other negative outcomes because he has no family to support him and is in the middle of terrible grief. His child welfare worker finds him foster housing that meets his needs and allows him to continue attending the same high school he was enrolled in prior to the death of his mother. This welfare worker also helps him access mental health services for processing grief, attend a driver’s education program to get his driver’s license, and apply for grants and funds for college tuition. She did this by supporting him in getting a case manager in the community mental health system, connecting him to an after school tutoring program, and continuously answering his calls and processing through his feelings. She coordinated quarterly meetings with his counselor, school counselor, herself, and him to meet and discuss his needs and progress. They met quarterly for several years until he was prepared to graduate high school and age out of the foster care system, as he was never adopted. In the meetings they discussed the following: How he was feeling What is going well and not going well What his goals were and plans to achieve them How his mental health was He was always able to self-direct the meetings and be his own advocate. This example of strong cross-systems work with providers who were equally as invested in his wellbeing really made the difference for him. Every quarter, he knew he had a team of people who would show up and care for him. He knew that this team would support him, plan with him, and answer any and all questions he had that his mother was no longer around to answer for him. Why is cross-systems work essential during transition for foster children? Foster children, not unlike children still living in their biological parents homes, are complex. They have complex needs, desires, and wants. They often have been witness to adversity that is difficult to understand and contextualize. This puts them at risk for a variety of negative outcomes such as substance use, houselessness, and mental illness during foster care and after they transition out. Cross-systems collaboration supports a trauma-informed approach to care by recognizing those complexities and understanding that no goals can be supported and achieved in isolation. For example, a student with a mental illness will have a difficult time in school. Therefore, their school and counselors should work together to ensure they have the skills and resources needed to be successful. A student with a disability and a trauma history may find coping with their disability difficult because their trauma makes them feel hopeless. Therefore, their direct care provider and their mental health counselor should partner with them to develop a plan for the best way to complete daily tasks. Cross-systems work believes the following: systems are inherently connected to other systems when they work towards similar goals; systems should focus on the common interest of the youth they are supporting; and agencies must make commitments to partner for the best partnerships to occur. Because of this, any person who is going into child welfare or a system that operates in partnership with child welfare to support foster care children, should be knowledgeable about cross-systems planning and be prepared to partner with other professionals, while also allowing the child to lead the way based on their interests and goals. All foster care children in transition have the ability to, like this child, graduate and be successful after foster care. To do this, they need to know that they have people supporting them and helping them. This kind of strong support by foster families, child welfare providers, teachers, mental health professionals, and other people supporting them is what will empower them to support themselves. This is how foster care children realize they are worthy of love and belonging: by being shown that to begin with. For the vast majority of teenagers turning into adults, turning 21 represents a time of wonder and excitement. This is a time of planning for the future that includes job training, college applications and attendance, and learning practical skills. However, for the more than 400,000 children currently in foster care in the United States, this is not always a time of wonder and excitement, but rather of anxiety and the unknown. Aging out of the foster care system is not always a seamless process due to the lack of resources that are often available for transition services, however, when child welfare workers use their strong cross-systems collaboration skills, foster care children in transition are often far more prepared to enter the adult world than they would otherwise be. What is cross-systems collaboration? Cross-systems collaboration is the process to which professionals partner with other professionals and agencies for the wellbeing of the client. Because many children who enter the foster care system have experienced trauma, may have mental health disorders or behavioral concerns, and often have few skills to utilize, the child welfare workers job is to support the entire person and not just find them housing. Picture this: a 15 year old boy enters a foster care facility after his mother dies of an overdose. This is a vulnerable time for him that could result in his own substance use, lack of finishing high school, and other negative outcomes because he has no family to support him and is in the middle of terrible grief. His child welfare worker finds him foster housing that meets his needs and allows him to continue attending the same high school he was enrolled in prior to the death of his mother. This welfare worker also helps him access mental health services for processing grief, attend a driver’s education program to get his driver’s license, and apply for grants and funds for college tuition. She did this by supporting him in getting a case manager in the community mental health system, connecting him to an after school tutoring program, and continuously answering his calls and processing through his feelings. She coordinated quarterly meetings with his counselor, school counselor, herself, and him to meet and discuss his needs and progress. They met quarterly for several years until he was prepared to graduate high school and age out of the foster care system, as he was never adopted. In the meetings they discussed the following: How he was feeling What is going well and not going well What his goals were and plans to achieve them How his mental health was He was always able to self-direct the meetings and be his own advocate. This example of strong cross-systems work with providers who were equally as invested in his wellbeing really made the difference for him. Every quarter, he knew he had a team of people who would show up and care for him. He knew that this team would support him, plan with him, and answer any and all questions he had that his mother was no longer around to answer for him. Why is cross-systems work essential during transition for foster children? Foster children, not unlike children still living in their biological parents homes, are complex. They have complex needs, desires, and wants. They often have been witness to adversity that is difficult to understand and contextualize. This puts them at risk for a variety of negative outcomes such as substance use, houselessness, and mental illness during foster care and after they transition out. Cross-systems collaboration supports a trauma-informed approach to care by recognizing those complexities and understanding that no goals can be supported and achieved in isolation. For example, a student with a mental illness will have a difficult time in school. Therefore, their school and counselors should work together to ensure they have the skills and resources needed to be successful. A student with a disability and a trauma history may find coping with their disability difficult because their trauma makes them feel hopeless. Therefore, their direct care provider and their mental health counselor should partner with them to develop a plan for the best way to complete daily tasks. Cross-systems work believes the following: systems are inherently connected to other systems when they work towards similar goals; systems should focus on the common interest of the youth they are supporting; and agencies must make commitments to partner for the best partnerships to occur. Because of this, any person who is going into child welfare or a system that operates in partnership with child welfare to support foster care children, should be knowledgeable about cross-systems planning and be prepared to partner with other professionals, while also allowing the child to lead the way based on their interests and goals. All foster care children in transition have the ability to, like this child, graduate and be successful after foster care. To do this, they need to know that they have people supporting them and helping them. This kind of strong support by foster families, child welfare providers, teachers, mental health professionals, and other people supporting them is what will empower them to support themselves. This is how foster care children realize they are worthy of love and belonging: by being shown that to begin with. For the vast majority of teenagers turning into adults, turning 21 represents a time of wonder and excitement. This is a time of planning for the future that includes job training, college applications and attendance, and learning practical skills. However, for the more than 400,000 children currently in foster care in the United States, this is not always a time of wonder and excitement, but rather of anxiety and the unknown. Aging out of the foster care system is not always a seamless process due to the lack of resources that are often available for transition services, however, when child welfare workers use their strong cross-systems collaboration skills, foster care children in transition are often far more prepared to enter the adult world than they would otherwise be. What is cross-systems collaboration? Cross-systems collaboration is the process to which professionals partner with other professionals and agencies for the wellbeing of the client. Because many children who enter the foster care system have experienced trauma, may have mental health disorders or behavioral concerns, and often have few skills to utilize, the child welfare workers job is to support the entire person and not just find them housing. Picture this: a 15 year old boy enters a foster care facility after his mother dies of an overdose. This is a vulnerable time for him that could result in his own substance use, lack of finishing high school, and other negative outcomes because he has no family to support him and is in the middle of terrible grief. His child welfare worker finds him foster housing that meets his needs and allows him to continue attending the same high school he was enrolled in prior to the death of his mother. This welfare worker also helps him access mental health services for processing grief, attend a driver’s education program to get his driver’s license, and apply for grants and funds for college tuition. She did this by supporting him in getting a case manager in the community mental health system, connecting him to an after school tutoring program, and continuously answering his calls and processing through his feelings. She coordinated quarterly meetings with his counselor, school counselor, herself, and him to meet and discuss his needs and progress. They met quarterly for several years until he was prepared to graduate high school and age out of the foster care system, as he was never adopted. In the meetings they discussed the following: How he was feeling What is going well and not going well What his goals were and plans to achieve them How his mental health was He was always able to self-direct the meetings and be his own advocate. This example of strong cross-systems work with providers who were equally as invested in his wellbeing really made the difference for him. Every quarter, he knew he had a team of people who would show up and care for him. He knew that this team would support him, plan with him, and answer any and all questions he had that his mother was no longer around to answer for him. Why is cross-systems work essential during transition for foster children? Foster children, not unlike children still living in their biological parents homes, are complex. They have complex needs, desires, and wants. They often have been witness to adversity that is difficult to understand and contextualize. This puts them at risk for a variety of negative outcomes such as substance use, houselessness, and mental illness during foster care and after they transition out. Cross-systems collaboration supports a trauma-informed approach to care by recognizing those complexities and understanding that no goals can be supported and achieved in isolation. For example, a student with a mental illness will have a difficult time in school. Therefore, their school and counselors should work together to ensure they have the skills and resources needed to be successful. A student with a disability and a trauma history may find coping with their disability difficult because their trauma makes them feel hopeless. Therefore, their direct care provider and their mental health counselor should partner with them to develop a plan for the best way to complete daily tasks. Cross-systems work believes the following: systems are inherently connected to other systems when they work towards similar goals; systems should focus on the common interest of the youth they are supporting; and agencies must make commitments to partner for the best partnerships to occur. Because of this, any person who is going into child welfare or a system that operates in partnership with child welfare to support foster care children, should be knowledgeable about cross-systems planning and be prepared to partner with other professionals, while also allowing the child to lead the way based on their interests and goals. All foster care children in transition have the ability to, like this child, graduate and be successful after foster care. To do this, they need to know that they have people supporting them and helping them. This kind of strong support by foster families, child welfare providers, teachers, mental health professionals, and other people supporting them is what will empower them to support themselves. This is how foster care children realize they are worthy of love and belonging: by being shown that to begin with. For the vast majority of teenagers turning into adults, turning 21 represents a time of wonder and excitement. This is a time of planning for the future that includes job training, college applications and attendance, and learning practical skills. However, for the more than 400,000 children currently in foster care in the United States, this is not always a time of wonder and excitement, but rather of anxiety and the unknown. Aging out of the foster care system is not always a seamless process due to the lack of resources that are often available for transition services, however, when child welfare workers use their strong cross-systems collaboration skills, foster care children in transition are often far more prepared to enter the adult world than they would otherwise be. What is cross-systems collaboration? Cross-systems collaboration is the process to which professionals partner with other professionals and agencies for the wellbeing of the client. Because many children who enter the foster care system have experienced trauma, may have mental health disorders or behavioral concerns, and often have few skills to utilize, the child welfare workers job is to support the entire person and not just find them housing. Picture this: a 15 year old boy enters a foster care facility after his mother dies of an overdose. This is a vulnerable time for him that could result in his own substance use, lack of finishing high school, and other negative outcomes because he has no family to support him and is in the middle of terrible grief. His child welfare worker finds him foster housing that meets his needs and allows him to continue attending the same high school he was enrolled in prior to the death of his mother. This welfare worker also helps him access mental health services for processing grief, attend a driver’s education program to get his driver’s license, and apply for grants and funds for college tuition. She did this by supporting him in getting a case manager in the community mental health system, connecting him to an after school tutoring program, and continuously answering his calls and processing through his feelings. She coordinated quarterly meetings with his counselor, school counselor, herself, and him to meet and discuss his needs and progress. They met quarterly for several years until he was prepared to graduate high school and age out of the foster care system, as he was never adopted. In the meetings they discussed the following: How he was feeling What is going well and not going well What his goals were and plans to achieve them How his mental health was He was always able to self-direct the meetings and be his own advocate. This example of strong cross-systems work with providers who were equally as invested in his wellbeing really made the difference for him. Every quarter, he knew he had a team of people who would show up and care for him. He knew that this team would support him, plan with him, and answer any and all questions he had that his mother was no longer around to answer for him. Why is cross-systems work essential during transition for foster children? Foster children, not unlike children still living in their biological parents homes, are complex. They have complex needs, desires, and wants. They often have been witness to adversity that is difficult to understand and contextualize. This puts them at risk for a variety of negative outcomes such as substance use, houselessness, and mental illness during foster care and after they transition out. Cross-systems collaboration supports a trauma-informed approach to care by recognizing those complexities and understanding that no goals can be supported and achieved in isolation. For example, a student with a mental illness will have a difficult time in school. Therefore, their school and counselors should work together to ensure they have the skills and resources needed to be successful. A student with a disability and a trauma history may find coping with their disability difficult because their trauma makes them feel hopeless. Therefore, their direct care provider and their mental health counselor should partner with them to develop a plan for the best way to complete daily tasks. Cross-systems work believes the following: systems are inherently connected to other systems when they work towards similar goals; systems should focus on the common interest of the youth they are supporting; and agencies must make commitments to partner for the best partnerships to occur. Because of this, any person who is going into child welfare or a system that operates in partnership with child welfare to support foster care children, should be knowledgeable about cross-systems planning and be prepared to partner with other professionals, while also allowing the child to lead the way based on their interests and goals. All foster care children in transition have the ability to, like this child, graduate and be successful after foster care. To do this, they need to know that they have people supporting them and helping them. This kind of strong support by foster families, child welfare providers, teachers, mental health professionals, and other people supporting them is what will empower them to support themselves. This is how foster care children realize they are worthy of love and belonging: by being shown that to begin with. For the vast majority of teenagers turning into adults, turning 21 represents a time of wonder and excitement. This is a time of planning for the future that includes job training, college applications and attendance, and learning practical skills. However, for the more than 400,000 children currently in foster care in the United States, this is not always a time of wonder and excitement, but rather of anxiety and the unknown. Aging out of the foster care system is not always a seamless process due to the lack of resources that are often available for transition services, however, when child welfare workers use their strong cross-systems collaboration skills, foster care children in transition are often far more prepared to enter the adult world than they would otherwise be. What is cross-systems collaboration? Cross-systems collaboration is the process to which professionals partner with other professionals and agencies for the wellbeing of the client. Because many children who enter the foster care system have experienced trauma, may have mental health disorders or behavioral concerns, and often have few skills to utilize, the child welfare workers job is to support the entire person and not just find them housing. Picture this: a 15 year old boy enters a foster care facility after his mother dies of an overdose. This is a vulnerable time for him that could result in his own substance use, lack of finishing high school, and other negative outcomes because he has no family to support him and is in the middle of terrible grief. His child welfare worker finds him foster housing that meets his needs and allows him to continue attending the same high school he was enrolled in prior to the death of his mother. This welfare worker also helps him access mental health services for processing grief, attend a driver’s education program to get his driver’s license, and apply for grants and funds for college tuition. She did this by supporting him in getting a case manager in the community mental health system, connecting him to an after school tutoring program, and continuously answering his calls and processing through his feelings. She coordinated quarterly meetings with his counselor, school counselor, herself, and him to meet and discuss his needs and progress. They met quarterly for several years until he was prepared to graduate high school and age out of the foster care system, as he was never adopted. In the meetings they discussed the following: How he was feeling What is going well and not going well What his goals were and plans to achieve them How his mental health was He was always able to self-direct the meetings and be his own advocate. This example of strong cross-systems work with providers who were equally as invested in his wellbeing really made the difference for him. Every quarter, he knew he had a team of people who would show up and care for him. He knew that this team would support him, plan with him, and answer any and all questions he had that his mother was no longer around to answer for him. Why is cross-systems work essential during transition for foster children? Foster children, not unlike children still living in their biological parents homes, are complex. They have complex needs, desires, and wants. They often have been witness to adversity that is difficult to understand and contextualize. This puts them at risk for a variety of negative outcomes such as substance use, houselessness, and mental illness during foster care and after they transition out. Cross-systems collaboration supports a trauma-informed approach to care by recognizing those complexities and understanding that no goals can be supported and achieved in isolation. For example, a student with a mental illness will have a difficult time in school. Therefore, their school and counselors should work together to ensure they have the skills and resources needed to be successful. A student with a disability and a trauma history may find coping with their disability difficult because their trauma makes them feel hopeless. Therefore, their direct care provider and their mental health counselor should partner with them to develop a plan for the best way to complete daily tasks. Cross-systems work believes the following: systems are inherently connected to other systems when they work towards similar goals; systems should focus on the common interest of the youth they are supporting; and agencies must make commitments to partner for the best partnerships to occur. Because of this, any person who is going into child welfare or a system that operates in partnership with child welfare to support foster care children, should be knowledgeable about cross-systems planning and be prepared to partner with other professionals, while also allowing the child to lead the way based on their interests and goals. All foster care children in transition have the ability to, like this child, graduate and be successful after foster care. To do this, they need to know that they have people supporting them and helping them. This kind of strong support by foster families, child welfare providers, teachers, mental health professionals, and other people supporting them is what will empower them to support themselves. This is how foster care children realize they are worthy of love and belonging: by being shown that to begin with. For the vast majority of teenagers turning into adults, turning 21 represents a time of wonder and excitement. This is a time of planning for the future that includes job training, college applications and attendance, and learning practical skills. However, for the more than 400,000 children currently in foster care in the United States, this is not always a time of wonder and excitement, but rather of anxiety and the unknown. Aging out of the foster care system is not always a seamless process due to the lack of resources that are often available for transition services, however, when child welfare workers use their strong cross-systems collaboration skills, foster care children in transition are often far more prepared to enter the adult world than they would otherwise be. What is cross-systems collaboration? Cross-systems collaboration is the process to which professionals partner with other professionals and agencies for the wellbeing of the client. Because many children who enter the foster care system have experienced trauma, may have mental health disorders or behavioral concerns, and often have few skills to utilize, the child welfare workers job is to support the entire person and not just find them housing. Picture this: a 15 year old boy enters a foster care facility after his mother dies of an overdose. This is a vulnerable time for him that could result in his own substance use, lack of finishing high school, and other negative outcomes because he has no family to support him and is in the middle of terrible grief. His child welfare worker finds him foster housing that meets his needs and allows him to continue attending the same high school he was enrolled in prior to the death of his mother. This welfare worker also helps him access mental health services for processing grief, attend a driver’s education program to get his driver’s license, and apply for grants and funds for college tuition. She did this by supporting him in getting a case manager in the community mental health system, connecting him to an after school tutoring program, and continuously answering his calls and processing through his feelings. She coordinated quarterly meetings with his counselor, school counselor, herself, and him to meet and discuss his needs and progress. They met quarterly for several years until he was prepared to graduate high school and age out of the foster care system, as he was never adopted. In the meetings they discussed the following: How he was feeling What is going well and not going well What his goals were and plans to achieve them How his mental health was He was always able to self-direct the meetings and be his own advocate. This example of strong cross-systems work with providers who were equally as invested in his wellbeing really made the difference for him. Every quarter, he knew he had a team of people who would show up and care for him. He knew that this team would support him, plan with him, and answer any and all questions he had that his mother was no longer around to answer for him. Why is cross-systems work essential during transition for foster children? Foster children, not unlike children still living in their biological parents homes, are complex. They have complex needs, desires, and wants. They often have been witness to adversity that is difficult to understand and contextualize. This puts them at risk for a variety of negative outcomes such as substance use, houselessness, and mental illness during foster care and after they transition out. Cross-systems collaboration supports a trauma-informed approach to care by recognizing those complexities and understanding that no goals can be supported and achieved in isolation. For example, a student with a mental illness will have a difficult time in school. Therefore, their school and counselors should work together to ensure they have the skills and resources needed to be successful. A student with a disability and a trauma history may find coping with their disability difficult because their trauma makes them feel hopeless. Therefore, their direct care provider and their mental health counselor should partner with them to develop a plan for the best way to complete daily tasks. Cross-systems work believes the following: systems are inherently connected to other systems when they work towards similar goals; systems should focus on the common interest of the youth they are supporting; and agencies must make commitments to partner for the best partnerships to occur. Because of this, any person who is going into child welfare or a system that operates in partnership with child welfare to support foster care children, should be knowledgeable about cross-systems planning and be prepared to partner with other professionals, while also allowing the child to lead the way based on their interests and goals. All foster care children in transition have the ability to, like this child, graduate and be successful after foster care. To do this, they need to know that they have people supporting them and helping them. This kind of strong support by foster families, child welfare providers, teachers, mental health professionals, and other people supporting them is what will empower them to support themselves. This is how foster care children realize they are worthy of love and belonging: by being shown that to begin with. For the vast majority of teenagers turning into adults, turning 21 represents a time of wonder and excitement. This is a time of planning for the future that includes job training, college applications and attendance, and learning practical skills. However, for the more than 400,000 children currently in foster care in the United States, this is not always a time of wonder and excitement, but rather of anxiety and the unknown. Aging out of the foster care system is not always a seamless process due to the lack of resources that are often available for transition services, however, when child welfare workers use their strong cross-systems collaboration skills, foster care children in transition are often far more prepared to enter the adult world than they would otherwise be. What is cross-systems collaboration? Cross-systems collaboration is the process to which professionals partner with other professionals and agencies for the wellbeing of the client. Because many children who enter the foster care system have experienced trauma, may have mental health disorders or behavioral concerns, and often have few skills to utilize, the child welfare workers job is to support the entire person and not just find them housing. Picture this: a 15 year old boy enters a foster care facility after his mother dies of an overdose. This is a vulnerable time for him that could result in his own substance use, lack of finishing high school, and other negative outcomes because he has no family to support him and is in the middle of terrible grief. His child welfare worker finds him foster housing that meets his needs and allows him to continue attending the same high school he was enrolled in prior to the death of his mother. This welfare worker also helps him access mental health services for processing grief, attend a driver’s education program to get his driver’s license, and apply for grants and funds for college tuition. She did this by supporting him in getting a case manager in the community mental health system, connecting him to an after school tutoring program, and continuously answering his calls and processing through his feelings. She coordinated quarterly meetings with his counselor, school counselor, herself, and him to meet and discuss his needs and progress. They met quarterly for several years until he was prepared to graduate high school and age out of the foster care system, as he was never adopted. In the meetings they discussed the following: How he was feeling What is going well and not going well What his goals were and plans to achieve them How his mental health was He was always able to self-direct the meetings and be his own advocate. This example of strong cross-systems work with providers who were equally as invested in his wellbeing really made the difference for him. Every quarter, he knew he had a team of people who would show up and care for him. He knew that this team would support him, plan with him, and answer any and all questions he had that his mother was no longer around to answer for him. Why is cross-systems work essential during transition for foster children? Foster children, not unlike children still living in their biological parents homes, are complex. They have complex needs, desires, and wants. They often have been witness to adversity that is difficult to understand and contextualize. This puts them at risk for a variety of negative outcomes such as substance use, houselessness, and mental illness during foster care and after they transition out. Cross-systems collaboration supports a trauma-informed approach to care by recognizing those complexities and understanding that no goals can be supported and achieved in isolation. For example, a student with a mental illness will have a difficult time in school. Therefore, their school and counselors should work together to ensure they have the skills and resources needed to be successful. A student with a disability and a trauma history may find coping with their disability difficult because their trauma makes them feel hopeless. Therefore, their direct care provider and their mental health counselor should partner with them to develop a plan for the best way to complete daily tasks. Cross-systems work believes the following: systems are inherently connected to other systems when they work towards similar goals; systems should focus on the common interest of the youth they are supporting; and agencies must make commitments to partner for the best partnerships to occur. Because of this, any person who is going into child welfare or a system that operates in partnership with child welfare to support foster care children, should be knowledgeable about cross-systems planning and be prepared to partner with other professionals, while also allowing the child to lead the way based on their interests and goals. All foster care children in transition have the ability to, like this child, graduate and be successful after foster care. To do this, they need to know that they have people supporting them and helping them. This kind of strong support by foster families, child welfare providers, teachers, mental health professionals, and other people supporting them is what will empower them to support themselves. This is how foster care children realize they are worthy of love and belonging: by being shown that to begin with. For the vast majority of teenagers turning into adults, turning 21 represents a time of wonder and excitement. This is a time of planning for the future that includes job training, college applications and attendance, and learning practical skills. However, for the more than 400,000 children currently in foster care in the United States, this is not always a time of wonder and excitement, but rather of anxiety and the unknown. Aging out of the foster care system is not always a seamless process due to the lack of resources that are often available for transition services, however, when child welfare workers use their strong cross-systems collaboration skills, foster care children in transition are often far more prepared to enter the adult world than they would otherwise be. What is cross-systems collaboration? Cross-systems collaboration is the process to which professionals partner with other professionals and agencies for the wellbeing of the client. Because many children who enter the foster care system have experienced trauma, may have mental health disorders or behavioral concerns, and often have few skills to utilize, the child welfare workers job is to support the entire person and not just find them housing. Picture this: a 15 year old boy enters a foster care facility after his mother dies of an overdose. This is a vulnerable time for him that could result in his own substance use, lack of finishing high school, and other negative outcomes because he has no family to support him and is in the middle of terrible grief. His child welfare worker finds him foster housing that meets his needs and allows him to continue attending the same high school he was enrolled in prior to the death of his mother. This welfare worker also helps him access mental health services for processing grief, attend a driver’s education program to get his driver’s license, and apply for grants and funds for college tuition. She did this by supporting him in getting a case manager in the community mental health system, connecting him to an after school tutoring program, and continuously answering his calls and processing through his feelings. She coordinated quarterly meetings with his counselor, school counselor, herself, and him to meet and discuss his needs and progress. They met quarterly for several years until he was prepared to graduate high school and age out of the foster care system, as he was never adopted. In the meetings they discussed the following: How he was feeling What is going well and not going well What his goals were and plans to achieve them How his mental health was He was always able to self-direct the meetings and be his own advocate. This example of strong cross-systems work with providers who were equally as invested in his wellbeing really made the difference for him. Every quarter, he knew he had a team of people who would show up and care for him. He knew that this team would support him, plan with him, and answer any and all questions he had that his mother was no longer around to answer for him. Why is cross-systems work essential during transition for foster children? Foster children, not unlike children still living in their biological parents homes, are complex. They have complex needs, desires, and wants. They often have been witness to adversity that is difficult to understand and contextualize. This puts them at risk for a variety of negative outcomes such as substance use, houselessness, and mental illness during foster care and after they transition out. Cross-systems collaboration supports a trauma-informed approach to care by recognizing those complexities and understanding that no goals can be supported and achieved in isolation. For example, a student with a mental illness will have a difficult time in school. Therefore, their school and counselors should work together to ensure they have the skills and resources needed to be successful. A student with a disability and a trauma history may find coping with their disability difficult because their trauma makes them feel hopeless. Therefore, their direct care provider and their mental health counselor should partner with them to develop a plan for the best way to complete daily tasks. Cross-systems work believes the following: systems are inherently connected to other systems when they work towards similar goals; systems should focus on the common interest of the youth they are supporting; and agencies must make commitments to partner for the best partnerships to occur. Because of this, any person who is going into child welfare or a system that operates in partnership with child welfare to support foster care children, should be knowledgeable about cross-systems planning and be prepared to partner with other professionals, while also allowing the child to lead the way based on their interests and goals. All foster care children in transition have the ability to, like this child, graduate and be successful after foster care. To do this, they need to know that they have people supporting them and helping them. This kind of strong support by foster families, child welfare providers, teachers, mental health professionals, and other people supporting them is what will empower them to support themselves. This is how foster care children realize they are worthy of love and belonging: by being shown that to begin with. For the vast majority of teenagers turning into adults, turning 21 represents a time of wonder and excitement. This is a time of planning for the future that includes job training, college applications and attendance, and learning practical skills. However, for the more than 400,000 children currently in foster care in the United States, this is not always a time of wonder and excitement, but rather of anxiety and the unknown. Aging out of the foster care system is not always a seamless process due to the lack of resources that are often available for transition services, however, when child welfare workers use their strong cross-systems collaboration skills, foster care children in transition are often far more prepared to enter the adult world than they would otherwise be. What is cross-systems collaboration? Cross-systems collaboration is the process to which professionals partner with other professionals and agencies for the wellbeing of the client. Because many children who enter the foster care system have experienced trauma, may have mental health disorders or behavioral concerns, and often have few skills to utilize, the child welfare workers job is to support the entire person and not just find them housing. Picture this: a 15 year old boy enters a foster care facility after his mother dies of an overdose. This is a vulnerable time for him that could result in his own substance use, lack of finishing high school, and other negative outcomes because he has no family to support him and is in the middle of terrible grief. His child welfare worker finds him foster housing that meets his needs and allows him to continue attending the same high school he was enrolled in prior to the death of his mother. This welfare worker also helps him access mental health services for processing grief, attend a driver’s education program to get his driver’s license, and apply for grants and funds for college tuition. She did this by supporting him in getting a case manager in the community mental health system, connecting him to an after school tutoring program, and continuously answering his calls and processing through his feelings. She coordinated quarterly meetings with his counselor, school counselor, herself, and him to meet and discuss his needs and progress. They met quarterly for several years until he was prepared to graduate high school and age out of the foster care system, as he was never adopted. In the meetings they discussed the following: How he was feeling What is going well and not going well What his goals were and plans to achieve them How his mental health was He was always able to self-direct the meetings and be his own advocate. This example of strong cross-systems work with providers who were equally as invested in his wellbeing really made the difference for him. Every quarter, he knew he had a team of people who would show up and care for him. He knew that this team would support him, plan with him, and answer any and all questions he had that his mother was no longer around to answer for him. Why is cross-systems work essential during transition for foster children? Foster children, not unlike children still living in their biological parents homes, are complex. They have complex needs, desires, and wants. They often have been witness to adversity that is difficult to understand and contextualize. This puts them at risk for a variety of negative outcomes such as substance use, houselessness, and mental illness during foster care and after they transition out. Cross-systems collaboration supports a trauma-informed approach to care by recognizing those complexities and understanding that no goals can be supported and achieved in isolation. For example, a student with a mental illness will have a difficult time in school. Therefore, their school and counselors should work together to ensure they have the skills and resources needed to be successful. A student with a disability and a trauma history may find coping with their disability difficult because their trauma makes them feel hopeless. Therefore, their direct care provider and their mental health counselor should partner with them to develop a plan for the best way to complete daily tasks. Cross-systems work believes the following: systems are inherently connected to other systems when they work towards similar goals; systems should focus on the common interest of the youth they are supporting; and agencies must make commitments to partner for the best partnerships to occur. Because of this, any person who is going into child welfare or a system that operates in partnership with child welfare to support foster care children, should be knowledgeable about cross-systems planning and be prepared to partner with other professionals, while also allowing the child to lead the way based on their interests and goals. All foster care children in transition have the ability to, like this child, graduate and be successful after foster care. To do this, they need to know that they have people supporting them and helping them. This kind of strong support by foster families, child welfare providers, teachers, mental health professionals, and other people supporting them is what will empower them to support themselves. This is how foster care children realize they are worthy of love and belonging: by being shown that to begin with. For the vast majority of teenagers turning into adults, turning 21 represents a time of wonder and excitement. This is a time of planning for the future that includes job training, college applications and attendance, and learning practical skills. However, for the more than 400,000 children currently in foster care in the United States, this is not always a time of wonder and excitement, but rather of anxiety and the unknown. Aging out of the foster care system is not always a seamless process due to the lack of resources that are often available for transition services, however, when child welfare workers use their strong cross-systems collaboration skills, foster care children in transition are often far more prepared to enter the adult world than they would otherwise be. What is cross-systems collaboration? Cross-systems collaboration is the process to which professionals partner with other professionals and agencies for the wellbeing of the client. Because many children who enter the foster care system have experienced trauma, may have mental health disorders or behavioral concerns, and often have few skills to utilize, the child welfare workers job is to support the entire person and not just find them housing. Picture this: a 15 year old boy enters a foster care facility after his mother dies of an overdose. This is a vulnerable time for him that could result in his own substance use, lack of finishing high school, and other negative outcomes because he has no family to support him and is in the middle of terrible grief. His child welfare worker finds him foster housing that meets his needs and allows him to continue attending the same high school he was enrolled in prior to the death of his mother. This welfare worker also helps him access mental health services for processing grief, attend a driver’s education program to get his driver’s license, and apply for grants and funds for college tuition. She did this by supporting him in getting a case manager in the community mental health system, connecting him to an after school tutoring program, and continuously answering his calls and processing through his feelings. She coordinated quarterly meetings with his counselor, school counselor, herself, and him to meet and discuss his needs and progress. They met quarterly for several years until he was prepared to graduate high school and age out of the foster care system, as he was never adopted. In the meetings they discussed the following: How he was feeling What is going well and not going well What his goals were and plans to achieve them How his mental health was He was always able to self-direct the meetings and be his own advocate. This example of strong cross-systems work with providers who were equally as invested in his wellbeing really made the difference for him. Every quarter, he knew he had a team of people who would show up and care for him. He knew that this team would support him, plan with him, and answer any and all questions he had that his mother was no longer around to answer for him. Why is cross-systems work essential during transition for foster children? Foster children, not unlike children still living in their biological parents homes, are complex. They have complex needs, desires, and wants. They often have been witness to adversity that is difficult to understand and contextualize. This puts them at risk for a variety of negative outcomes such as substance use, houselessness, and mental illness during foster care and after they transition out. Cross-systems collaboration supports a trauma-informed approach to care by recognizing those complexities and understanding that no goals can be supported and achieved in isolation. For example, a student with a mental illness will have a difficult time in school. Therefore, their school and counselors should work together to ensure they have the skills and resources needed to be successful. A student with a disability and a trauma history may find coping with their disability difficult because their trauma makes them feel hopeless. Therefore, their direct care provider and their mental health counselor should partner with them to develop a plan for the best way to complete daily tasks. Cross-systems work believes the following: systems are inherently connected to other systems when they work towards similar goals; systems should focus on the common interest of the youth they are supporting; and agencies must make commitments to partner for the best partnerships to occur. Because of this, any person who is going into child welfare or a system that operates in partnership with child welfare to support foster care children, should be knowledgeable about cross-systems planning and be prepared to partner with other professionals, while also allowing the child to lead the way based on their interests and goals. All foster care children in transition have the ability to, like this child, graduate and be successful after foster care. To do this, they need to know that they have people supporting them and helping them. This kind of strong support by foster families, child welfare providers, teachers, mental health professionals, and other people supporting them is what will empower them to support themselves. This is how foster care children realize they are worthy of love and belonging: by being shown that to begin with.
by Joshua Cruz 18 min read

The Impact of One Trusted Adult in a Former Foster Youth’s Life

For most of us reading this article, we didn’t have life completely figured out when we turned 18 years of age. I turned 18 in the middle of boot camp with the United States Marine Corps. I declined to notify my Drill Instructors that it was my birthday, lest they plan a special “celebration” for me...
For most of us reading this article, we didn’t have life completely figured out when we turned 18 years of age. I turned 18 in the middle of boot camp with the United States Marine Corps. I declined to notify my Drill Instructors that it was my birthday, lest they plan a special “celebration” for me. When I emerged from boot camp, I was a United States Marine who had little discipline and income. However, I also had a family to fall back on if things got hard. Most of us who achieved some level of success in life benefited at least one trusted adult during our coming of age into adulthood. Sadly, that’s not the case for many foster youths who age out of our nation’s child welfare system. So let’s talk about those youth for a moment. The Impact of a Trusted Adult is Obvious to All Now, it wouldn’t take a massive research initiative to prove the impact of having a trusted adult in a young person’s life is beneficial. We saw it in our own lives when we became adults. Those of us who have children now can’t imagine abandoning our children during that pivotal season of life. Not to mention, most of us know people we grew up with who did not have such a support system, and we can see the hardship that brought our peer’s lives. So we don’t need the data. Fortunately for you, we have the data anyway. Youth Villages is an organization based in Memphis, TN, which currently operates the most extensive program in the country, showing positive results for former foster youth in multiple areas of life. These results were quantified in a massive research study from MDRC, which spanned multiple years. MDRC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social policy research organization, and this study was funded by grants from The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The study showed improved outcomes related to immediate needs, such as housing, food, clothing, and avoiding violent relationships. In areas where it did not show an improvement, Youth Villages went back to the table to innovate and follow the data wherever it would lead them. What Youth Villages does for former foster youth is truly remarkable, and I’m not just saying that based on the data or due to the fact that I worked for them for over 13 years. Yet, because I worked for them, I can testify to the impact of transitional living services first hand. For most of us reading this article, we didn’t have life completely figured out when we turned 18 years of age. I turned 18 in the middle of boot camp with the United States Marine Corps. I declined to notify my Drill Instructors that it was my birthday, lest they plan a special “celebration” for me. When I emerged from boot camp, I was a United States Marine who had little discipline and income. However, I also had a family to fall back on if things got hard. Most of us who achieved some level of success in life benefited at least one trusted adult during our coming of age into adulthood. Sadly, that’s not the case for many foster youths who age out of our nation’s child welfare system. So let’s talk about those youth for a moment. The Impact of a Trusted Adult is Obvious to All Now, it wouldn’t take a massive research initiative to prove the impact of having a trusted adult in a young person’s life is beneficial. We saw it in our own lives when we became adults. Those of us who have children now can’t imagine abandoning our children during that pivotal season of life. Not to mention, most of us know people we grew up with who did not have such a support system, and we can see the hardship that brought our peer’s lives. So we don’t need the data. Fortunately for you, we have the data anyway. Youth Villages is an organization based in Memphis, TN, which currently operates the most extensive program in the country, showing positive results for former foster youth in multiple areas of life. These results were quantified in a massive research study from MDRC, which spanned multiple years. MDRC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social policy research organization, and this study was funded by grants from The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The study showed improved outcomes related to immediate needs, such as housing, food, clothing, and avoiding violent relationships. In areas where it did not show an improvement, Youth Villages went back to the table to innovate and follow the data wherever it would lead them. What Youth Villages does for former foster youth is truly remarkable, and I’m not just saying that based on the data or due to the fact that I worked for them for over 13 years. Yet, because I worked for them, I can testify to the impact of transitional living services first hand. For most of us reading this article, we didn’t have life completely figured out when we turned 18 years of age. I turned 18 in the middle of boot camp with the United States Marine Corps. I declined to notify my Drill Instructors that it was my birthday, lest they plan a special “celebration” for me. When I emerged from boot camp, I was a United States Marine who had little discipline and income. However, I also had a family to fall back on if things got hard. Most of us who achieved some level of success in life benefited at least one trusted adult during our coming of age into adulthood. Sadly, that’s not the case for many foster youths who age out of our nation’s child welfare system. So let’s talk about those youth for a moment. The Impact of a Trusted Adult is Obvious to All Now, it wouldn’t take a massive research initiative to prove the impact of having a trusted adult in a young person’s life is beneficial. We saw it in our own lives when we became adults. Those of us who have children now can’t imagine abandoning our children during that pivotal season of life. Not to mention, most of us know people we grew up with who did not have such a support system, and we can see the hardship that brought our peer’s lives. So we don’t need the data. Fortunately for you, we have the data anyway. Youth Villages is an organization based in Memphis, TN, which currently operates the most extensive program in the country, showing positive results for former foster youth in multiple areas of life. These results were quantified in a massive research study from MDRC, which spanned multiple years. MDRC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social policy research organization, and this study was funded by grants from The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The study showed improved outcomes related to immediate needs, such as housing, food, clothing, and avoiding violent relationships. In areas where it did not show an improvement, Youth Villages went back to the table to innovate and follow the data wherever it would lead them. What Youth Villages does for former foster youth is truly remarkable, and I’m not just saying that based on the data or due to the fact that I worked for them for over 13 years. Yet, because I worked for them, I can testify to the impact of transitional living services first hand. For most of us reading this article, we didn’t have life completely figured out when we turned 18 years of age. I turned 18 in the middle of boot camp with the United States Marine Corps. I declined to notify my Drill Instructors that it was my birthday, lest they plan a special “celebration” for me. When I emerged from boot camp, I was a United States Marine who had little discipline and income. However, I also had a family to fall back on if things got hard. Most of us who achieved some level of success in life benefited at least one trusted adult during our coming of age into adulthood. Sadly, that’s not the case for many foster youths who age out of our nation’s child welfare system. So let’s talk about those youth for a moment. The Impact of a Trusted Adult is Obvious to All Now, it wouldn’t take a massive research initiative to prove the impact of having a trusted adult in a young person’s life is beneficial. We saw it in our own lives when we became adults. Those of us who have children now can’t imagine abandoning our children during that pivotal season of life. Not to mention, most of us know people we grew up with who did not have such a support system, and we can see the hardship that brought our peer’s lives. So we don’t need the data. Fortunately for you, we have the data anyway. Youth Villages is an organization based in Memphis, TN, which currently operates the most extensive program in the country, showing positive results for former foster youth in multiple areas of life. These results were quantified in a massive research study from MDRC, which spanned multiple years. MDRC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social policy research organization, and this study was funded by grants from The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The study showed improved outcomes related to immediate needs, such as housing, food, clothing, and avoiding violent relationships. In areas where it did not show an improvement, Youth Villages went back to the table to innovate and follow the data wherever it would lead them. What Youth Villages does for former foster youth is truly remarkable, and I’m not just saying that based on the data or due to the fact that I worked for them for over 13 years. Yet, because I worked for them, I can testify to the impact of transitional living services first hand. For most of us reading this article, we didn’t have life completely figured out when we turned 18 years of age. I turned 18 in the middle of boot camp with the United States Marine Corps. I declined to notify my Drill Instructors that it was my birthday, lest they plan a special “celebration” for me. When I emerged from boot camp, I was a United States Marine who had little discipline and income. However, I also had a family to fall back on if things got hard. Most of us who achieved some level of success in life benefited at least one trusted adult during our coming of age into adulthood. Sadly, that’s not the case for many foster youths who age out of our nation’s child welfare system. So let’s talk about those youth for a moment. The Impact of a Trusted Adult is Obvious to All Now, it wouldn’t take a massive research initiative to prove the impact of having a trusted adult in a young person’s life is beneficial. We saw it in our own lives when we became adults. Those of us who have children now can’t imagine abandoning our children during that pivotal season of life. Not to mention, most of us know people we grew up with who did not have such a support system, and we can see the hardship that brought our peer’s lives. So we don’t need the data. Fortunately for you, we have the data anyway. Youth Villages is an organization based in Memphis, TN, which currently operates the most extensive program in the country, showing positive results for former foster youth in multiple areas of life. These results were quantified in a massive research study from MDRC, which spanned multiple years. MDRC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social policy research organization, and this study was funded by grants from The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The study showed improved outcomes related to immediate needs, such as housing, food, clothing, and avoiding violent relationships. In areas where it did not show an improvement, Youth Villages went back to the table to innovate and follow the data wherever it would lead them. What Youth Villages does for former foster youth is truly remarkable, and I’m not just saying that based on the data or due to the fact that I worked for them for over 13 years. Yet, because I worked for them, I can testify to the impact of transitional living services first hand. For most of us reading this article, we didn’t have life completely figured out when we turned 18 years of age. I turned 18 in the middle of boot camp with the United States Marine Corps. I declined to notify my Drill Instructors that it was my birthday, lest they plan a special “celebration” for me. When I emerged from boot camp, I was a United States Marine who had little discipline and income. However, I also had a family to fall back on if things got hard. Most of us who achieved some level of success in life benefited at least one trusted adult during our coming of age into adulthood. Sadly, that’s not the case for many foster youths who age out of our nation’s child welfare system. So let’s talk about those youth for a moment. The Impact of a Trusted Adult is Obvious to All Now, it wouldn’t take a massive research initiative to prove the impact of having a trusted adult in a young person’s life is beneficial. We saw it in our own lives when we became adults. Those of us who have children now can’t imagine abandoning our children during that pivotal season of life. Not to mention, most of us know people we grew up with who did not have such a support system, and we can see the hardship that brought our peer’s lives. So we don’t need the data. Fortunately for you, we have the data anyway. Youth Villages is an organization based in Memphis, TN, which currently operates the most extensive program in the country, showing positive results for former foster youth in multiple areas of life. These results were quantified in a massive research study from MDRC, which spanned multiple years. MDRC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social policy research organization, and this study was funded by grants from The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The study showed improved outcomes related to immediate needs, such as housing, food, clothing, and avoiding violent relationships. In areas where it did not show an improvement, Youth Villages went back to the table to innovate and follow the data wherever it would lead them. What Youth Villages does for former foster youth is truly remarkable, and I’m not just saying that based on the data or due to the fact that I worked for them for over 13 years. Yet, because I worked for them, I can testify to the impact of transitional living services first hand. For most of us reading this article, we didn’t have life completely figured out when we turned 18 years of age. I turned 18 in the middle of boot camp with the United States Marine Corps. I declined to notify my Drill Instructors that it was my birthday, lest they plan a special “celebration” for me. When I emerged from boot camp, I was a United States Marine who had little discipline and income. However, I also had a family to fall back on if things got hard. Most of us who achieved some level of success in life benefited at least one trusted adult during our coming of age into adulthood. Sadly, that’s not the case for many foster youths who age out of our nation’s child welfare system. So let’s talk about those youth for a moment. The Impact of a Trusted Adult is Obvious to All Now, it wouldn’t take a massive research initiative to prove the impact of having a trusted adult in a young person’s life is beneficial. We saw it in our own lives when we became adults. Those of us who have children now can’t imagine abandoning our children during that pivotal season of life. Not to mention, most of us know people we grew up with who did not have such a support system, and we can see the hardship that brought our peer’s lives. So we don’t need the data. Fortunately for you, we have the data anyway. Youth Villages is an organization based in Memphis, TN, which currently operates the most extensive program in the country, showing positive results for former foster youth in multiple areas of life. These results were quantified in a massive research study from MDRC, which spanned multiple years. MDRC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social policy research organization, and this study was funded by grants from The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The study showed improved outcomes related to immediate needs, such as housing, food, clothing, and avoiding violent relationships. In areas where it did not show an improvement, Youth Villages went back to the table to innovate and follow the data wherever it would lead them. What Youth Villages does for former foster youth is truly remarkable, and I’m not just saying that based on the data or due to the fact that I worked for them for over 13 years. Yet, because I worked for them, I can testify to the impact of transitional living services first hand. For most of us reading this article, we didn’t have life completely figured out when we turned 18 years of age. I turned 18 in the middle of boot camp with the United States Marine Corps. I declined to notify my Drill Instructors that it was my birthday, lest they plan a special “celebration” for me. When I emerged from boot camp, I was a United States Marine who had little discipline and income. However, I also had a family to fall back on if things got hard. Most of us who achieved some level of success in life benefited at least one trusted adult during our coming of age into adulthood. Sadly, that’s not the case for many foster youths who age out of our nation’s child welfare system. So let’s talk about those youth for a moment. The Impact of a Trusted Adult is Obvious to All Now, it wouldn’t take a massive research initiative to prove the impact of having a trusted adult in a young person’s life is beneficial. We saw it in our own lives when we became adults. Those of us who have children now can’t imagine abandoning our children during that pivotal season of life. Not to mention, most of us know people we grew up with who did not have such a support system, and we can see the hardship that brought our peer’s lives. So we don’t need the data. Fortunately for you, we have the data anyway. Youth Villages is an organization based in Memphis, TN, which currently operates the most extensive program in the country, showing positive results for former foster youth in multiple areas of life. These results were quantified in a massive research study from MDRC, which spanned multiple years. MDRC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social policy research organization, and this study was funded by grants from The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The study showed improved outcomes related to immediate needs, such as housing, food, clothing, and avoiding violent relationships. In areas where it did not show an improvement, Youth Villages went back to the table to innovate and follow the data wherever it would lead them. What Youth Villages does for former foster youth is truly remarkable, and I’m not just saying that based on the data or due to the fact that I worked for them for over 13 years. Yet, because I worked for them, I can testify to the impact of transitional living services first hand. For most of us reading this article, we didn’t have life completely figured out when we turned 18 years of age. I turned 18 in the middle of boot camp with the United States Marine Corps. I declined to notify my Drill Instructors that it was my birthday, lest they plan a special “celebration” for me. When I emerged from boot camp, I was a United States Marine who had little discipline and income. However, I also had a family to fall back on if things got hard. Most of us who achieved some level of success in life benefited at least one trusted adult during our coming of age into adulthood. Sadly, that’s not the case for many foster youths who age out of our nation’s child welfare system. So let’s talk about those youth for a moment. The Impact of a Trusted Adult is Obvious to All Now, it wouldn’t take a massive research initiative to prove the impact of having a trusted adult in a young person’s life is beneficial. We saw it in our own lives when we became adults. Those of us who have children now can’t imagine abandoning our children during that pivotal season of life. Not to mention, most of us know people we grew up with who did not have such a support system, and we can see the hardship that brought our peer’s lives. So we don’t need the data. Fortunately for you, we have the data anyway. Youth Villages is an organization based in Memphis, TN, which currently operates the most extensive program in the country, showing positive results for former foster youth in multiple areas of life. These results were quantified in a massive research study from MDRC, which spanned multiple years. MDRC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social policy research organization, and this study was funded by grants from The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The study showed improved outcomes related to immediate needs, such as housing, food, clothing, and avoiding violent relationships. In areas where it did not show an improvement, Youth Villages went back to the table to innovate and follow the data wherever it would lead them. What Youth Villages does for former foster youth is truly remarkable, and I’m not just saying that based on the data or due to the fact that I worked for them for over 13 years. Yet, because I worked for them, I can testify to the impact of transitional living services first hand. For most of us reading this article, we didn’t have life completely figured out when we turned 18 years of age. I turned 18 in the middle of boot camp with the United States Marine Corps. I declined to notify my Drill Instructors that it was my birthday, lest they plan a special “celebration” for me. When I emerged from boot camp, I was a United States Marine who had little discipline and income. However, I also had a family to fall back on if things got hard. Most of us who achieved some level of success in life benefited at least one trusted adult during our coming of age into adulthood. Sadly, that’s not the case for many foster youths who age out of our nation’s child welfare system. So let’s talk about those youth for a moment. The Impact of a Trusted Adult is Obvious to All Now, it wouldn’t take a massive research initiative to prove the impact of having a trusted adult in a young person’s life is beneficial. We saw it in our own lives when we became adults. Those of us who have children now can’t imagine abandoning our children during that pivotal season of life. Not to mention, most of us know people we grew up with who did not have such a support system, and we can see the hardship that brought our peer’s lives. So we don’t need the data. Fortunately for you, we have the data anyway. Youth Villages is an organization based in Memphis, TN, which currently operates the most extensive program in the country, showing positive results for former foster youth in multiple areas of life. These results were quantified in a massive research study from MDRC, which spanned multiple years. MDRC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social policy research organization, and this study was funded by grants from The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The study showed improved outcomes related to immediate needs, such as housing, food, clothing, and avoiding violent relationships. In areas where it did not show an improvement, Youth Villages went back to the table to innovate and follow the data wherever it would lead them. What Youth Villages does for former foster youth is truly remarkable, and I’m not just saying that based on the data or due to the fact that I worked for them for over 13 years. Yet, because I worked for them, I can testify to the impact of transitional living services first hand.
by Jeff Edwards 9 min read

A COVID-19 Call to Action for Foster Parents

Nearly 20 years ago, I embarked on what would be a fascinating career serving some of our nation’s most troubled youth. A remarkable career considering that when I started, I didn’t know anything about kids. I was a Political Science major in need of a job post-college when one of the nation’s most ...
Nearly 20 years ago, I embarked on what would be a fascinating career serving some of our nation’s most troubled youth. A remarkable career considering that when I started, I didn’t know anything about kids. I was a Political Science major in need of a job post-college when one of the nation’s most respected youth services organizations was looking for a few good men. I use that term figuratively and literally as I was also a United States Marine, and I think the agency was looking for a little muscle to help out with the older troubled youth at a campus. Unfortunately for them, I’m much smaller than my deep voice on the phone would lead you to believe. A COVID-19 Dose of Reality When the COVID-19 shutdowns came to fruition, I knew that there seemed something oddly familiar with all of the weeping and gnashing of teeth that came about. “Where will my kids go to school” or “my child is missing graduation, prom, and all their youthful milestones” were the pleas coming from parents from sea to shining sea. Loss of income put stress on households, and families wondered if they would have a place to live next month or even next week. Mental health came into the focus as the chronic toxic stress exacerbated issues like substance abuse and trauma coming from life in frequent fear. “I’m going to lose everything I’ve ever known in an instant” is the lamentation coming from business owners who don’t understand the decisions being made against their will and supposedly on their behalf by the government. That’s when it hit me. “Oh, America has turned into a nation of foster children,” I said to myself. A Day in the Life of Foster Care All of the anxiety and uncertainty that you and your family are facing right now is but a shadow image of what our foster children face every single day in the child welfare system. You may not know where your child is going to school or what that school environment will look like? Neither does a foster child who has moved from the only home they have ever known. Did your child miss milestones like prom and graduation? So do foster children as they often have to move from home to home and school placement to another. You may not know if you are going to be able to make rent and if you will be able to keep your home and many foster children have no idea if “the new placement” will keep them any longer than the last. If you are struggling with trauma or substance abuse that is triggered by the stress of the unknown, well, kids who live daily in the unknown are not any different. Finally, if you have lost everything you have even known or worked for, then I am genuinely sorry. Just know that when a DCS worker shows up to a child’s home with a black plastic garbage bag, aka the luggage of foster care, they too have lost it all. They are also told it is for their own good, and the fact that it may be true doesn’t lessen the sting or the pain. Empathy is the First Step Towards Action I told you the story about unpreparedness for the career that laid ahead of me for a reason. As a young supervisor working on a residential campus where youth came to live temporarily, I didn’t get it. I did well by the kids and always treated them fairly and with care, but I didn’t have the empathy to fully understand what I was seeing. I can remember a youth crying profusely on his first night there, and I had nothing to offer or console. Fast forward about seven years later into that career, and I was married with my first daughter. During that time, I received a tour of our new residential treatment center for girls when a young teen girl was being restrained for self-harm. She began sobbing, and then, just then, it finally hit me. Behind those tears, I could finally hear the pleas of “I shouldn’t be here” or “why did this happen to me” that rang out in the halls. It took having my daughter to finally gain the proper empathy, and for the first time in my career, tears came to me. I fully understood, and that moment informed the rest of my career. Empathy is the first step towards taking action and truly transforming a youth’s life. If COVID-19 has stressed you and your family, I plead with you to search for empathy for youth who experience those stresses every day. I’m no longer in child welfare services, but I’m confident that front line workers are working harder than ever to support those youth. However, those youth need a family - If you have ever considered answering the call, those youth need you right now. COVID-19 be damned, let empathy carry you forward to action and create change in the child welfare system, one family at a time. Nearly 20 years ago, I embarked on what would be a fascinating career serving some of our nation’s most troubled youth. A remarkable career considering that when I started, I didn’t know anything about kids. I was a Political Science major in need of a job post-college when one of the nation’s most respected youth services organizations was looking for a few good men. I use that term figuratively and literally as I was also a United States Marine, and I think the agency was looking for a little muscle to help out with the older troubled youth at a campus. Unfortunately for them, I’m much smaller than my deep voice on the phone would lead you to believe. A COVID-19 Dose of Reality When the COVID-19 shutdowns came to fruition, I knew that there seemed something oddly familiar with all of the weeping and gnashing of teeth that came about. “Where will my kids go to school” or “my child is missing graduation, prom, and all their youthful milestones” were the pleas coming from parents from sea to shining sea. Loss of income put stress on households, and families wondered if they would have a place to live next month or even next week. Mental health came into the focus as the chronic toxic stress exacerbated issues like substance abuse and trauma coming from life in frequent fear. “I’m going to lose everything I’ve ever known in an instant” is the lamentation coming from business owners who don’t understand the decisions being made against their will and supposedly on their behalf by the government. That’s when it hit me. “Oh, America has turned into a nation of foster children,” I said to myself. A Day in the Life of Foster Care All of the anxiety and uncertainty that you and your family are facing right now is but a shadow image of what our foster children face every single day in the child welfare system. You may not know where your child is going to school or what that school environment will look like? Neither does a foster child who has moved from the only home they have ever known. Did your child miss milestones like prom and graduation? So do foster children as they often have to move from home to home and school placement to another. You may not know if you are going to be able to make rent and if you will be able to keep your home and many foster children have no idea if “the new placement” will keep them any longer than the last. If you are struggling with trauma or substance abuse that is triggered by the stress of the unknown, well, kids who live daily in the unknown are not any different. Finally, if you have lost everything you have even known or worked for, then I am genuinely sorry. Just know that when a DCS worker shows up to a child’s home with a black plastic garbage bag, aka the luggage of foster care, they too have lost it all. They are also told it is for their own good, and the fact that it may be true doesn’t lessen the sting or the pain. Empathy is the First Step Towards Action I told you the story about unpreparedness for the career that laid ahead of me for a reason. As a young supervisor working on a residential campus where youth came to live temporarily, I didn’t get it. I did well by the kids and always treated them fairly and with care, but I didn’t have the empathy to fully understand what I was seeing. I can remember a youth crying profusely on his first night there, and I had nothing to offer or console. Fast forward about seven years later into that career, and I was married with my first daughter. During that time, I received a tour of our new residential treatment center for girls when a young teen girl was being restrained for self-harm. She began sobbing, and then, just then, it finally hit me. Behind those tears, I could finally hear the pleas of “I shouldn’t be here” or “why did this happen to me” that rang out in the halls. It took having my daughter to finally gain the proper empathy, and for the first time in my career, tears came to me. I fully understood, and that moment informed the rest of my career. Empathy is the first step towards taking action and truly transforming a youth’s life. If COVID-19 has stressed you and your family, I plead with you to search for empathy for youth who experience those stresses every day. I’m no longer in child welfare services, but I’m confident that front line workers are working harder than ever to support those youth. However, those youth need a family - If you have ever considered answering the call, those youth need you right now. COVID-19 be damned, let empathy carry you forward to action and create change in the child welfare system, one family at a time. Nearly 20 years ago, I embarked on what would be a fascinating career serving some of our nation’s most troubled youth. A remarkable career considering that when I started, I didn’t know anything about kids. I was a Political Science major in need of a job post-college when one of the nation’s most respected youth services organizations was looking for a few good men. I use that term figuratively and literally as I was also a United States Marine, and I think the agency was looking for a little muscle to help out with the older troubled youth at a campus. Unfortunately for them, I’m much smaller than my deep voice on the phone would lead you to believe. A COVID-19 Dose of Reality When the COVID-19 shutdowns came to fruition, I knew that there seemed something oddly familiar with all of the weeping and gnashing of teeth that came about. “Where will my kids go to school” or “my child is missing graduation, prom, and all their youthful milestones” were the pleas coming from parents from sea to shining sea. Loss of income put stress on households, and families wondered if they would have a place to live next month or even next week. Mental health came into the focus as the chronic toxic stress exacerbated issues like substance abuse and trauma coming from life in frequent fear. “I’m going to lose everything I’ve ever known in an instant” is the lamentation coming from business owners who don’t understand the decisions being made against their will and supposedly on their behalf by the government. That’s when it hit me. “Oh, America has turned into a nation of foster children,” I said to myself. A Day in the Life of Foster Care All of the anxiety and uncertainty that you and your family are facing right now is but a shadow image of what our foster children face every single day in the child welfare system. You may not know where your child is going to school or what that school environment will look like? Neither does a foster child who has moved from the only home they have ever known. Did your child miss milestones like prom and graduation? So do foster children as they often have to move from home to home and school placement to another. You may not know if you are going to be able to make rent and if you will be able to keep your home and many foster children have no idea if “the new placement” will keep them any longer than the last. If you are struggling with trauma or substance abuse that is triggered by the stress of the unknown, well, kids who live daily in the unknown are not any different. Finally, if you have lost everything you have even known or worked for, then I am genuinely sorry. Just know that when a DCS worker shows up to a child’s home with a black plastic garbage bag, aka the luggage of foster care, they too have lost it all. They are also told it is for their own good, and the fact that it may be true doesn’t lessen the sting or the pain. Empathy is the First Step Towards Action I told you the story about unpreparedness for the career that laid ahead of me for a reason. As a young supervisor working on a residential campus where youth came to live temporarily, I didn’t get it. I did well by the kids and always treated them fairly and with care, but I didn’t have the empathy to fully understand what I was seeing. I can remember a youth crying profusely on his first night there, and I had nothing to offer or console. Fast forward about seven years later into that career, and I was married with my first daughter. During that time, I received a tour of our new residential treatment center for girls when a young teen girl was being restrained for self-harm. She began sobbing, and then, just then, it finally hit me. Behind those tears, I could finally hear the pleas of “I shouldn’t be here” or “why did this happen to me” that rang out in the halls. It took having my daughter to finally gain the proper empathy, and for the first time in my career, tears came to me. I fully understood, and that moment informed the rest of my career. Empathy is the first step towards taking action and truly transforming a youth’s life. If COVID-19 has stressed you and your family, I plead with you to search for empathy for youth who experience those stresses every day. I’m no longer in child welfare services, but I’m confident that front line workers are working harder than ever to support those youth. However, those youth need a family - If you have ever considered answering the call, those youth need you right now. COVID-19 be damned, let empathy carry you forward to action and create change in the child welfare system, one family at a time. Nearly 20 years ago, I embarked on what would be a fascinating career serving some of our nation’s most troubled youth. A remarkable career considering that when I started, I didn’t know anything about kids. I was a Political Science major in need of a job post-college when one of the nation’s most respected youth services organizations was looking for a few good men. I use that term figuratively and literally as I was also a United States Marine, and I think the agency was looking for a little muscle to help out with the older troubled youth at a campus. Unfortunately for them, I’m much smaller than my deep voice on the phone would lead you to believe. A COVID-19 Dose of Reality When the COVID-19 shutdowns came to fruition, I knew that there seemed something oddly familiar with all of the weeping and gnashing of teeth that came about. “Where will my kids go to school” or “my child is missing graduation, prom, and all their youthful milestones” were the pleas coming from parents from sea to shining sea. Loss of income put stress on households, and families wondered if they would have a place to live next month or even next week. Mental health came into the focus as the chronic toxic stress exacerbated issues like substance abuse and trauma coming from life in frequent fear. “I’m going to lose everything I’ve ever known in an instant” is the lamentation coming from business owners who don’t understand the decisions being made against their will and supposedly on their behalf by the government. That’s when it hit me. “Oh, America has turned into a nation of foster children,” I said to myself. A Day in the Life of Foster Care All of the anxiety and uncertainty that you and your family are facing right now is but a shadow image of what our foster children face every single day in the child welfare system. You may not know where your child is going to school or what that school environment will look like? Neither does a foster child who has moved from the only home they have ever known. Did your child miss milestones like prom and graduation? So do foster children as they often have to move from home to home and school placement to another. You may not know if you are going to be able to make rent and if you will be able to keep your home and many foster children have no idea if “the new placement” will keep them any longer than the last. If you are struggling with trauma or substance abuse that is triggered by the stress of the unknown, well, kids who live daily in the unknown are not any different. Finally, if you have lost everything you have even known or worked for, then I am genuinely sorry. Just know that when a DCS worker shows up to a child’s home with a black plastic garbage bag, aka the luggage of foster care, they too have lost it all. They are also told it is for their own good, and the fact that it may be true doesn’t lessen the sting or the pain. Empathy is the First Step Towards Action I told you the story about unpreparedness for the career that laid ahead of me for a reason. As a young supervisor working on a residential campus where youth came to live temporarily, I didn’t get it. I did well by the kids and always treated them fairly and with care, but I didn’t have the empathy to fully understand what I was seeing. I can remember a youth crying profusely on his first night there, and I had nothing to offer or console. Fast forward about seven years later into that career, and I was married with my first daughter. During that time, I received a tour of our new residential treatment center for girls when a young teen girl was being restrained for self-harm. She began sobbing, and then, just then, it finally hit me. Behind those tears, I could finally hear the pleas of “I shouldn’t be here” or “why did this happen to me” that rang out in the halls. It took having my daughter to finally gain the proper empathy, and for the first time in my career, tears came to me. I fully understood, and that moment informed the rest of my career. Empathy is the first step towards taking action and truly transforming a youth’s life. If COVID-19 has stressed you and your family, I plead with you to search for empathy for youth who experience those stresses every day. I’m no longer in child welfare services, but I’m confident that front line workers are working harder than ever to support those youth. However, those youth need a family - If you have ever considered answering the call, those youth need you right now. COVID-19 be damned, let empathy carry you forward to action and create change in the child welfare system, one family at a time. Nearly 20 years ago, I embarked on what would be a fascinating career serving some of our nation’s most troubled youth. A remarkable career considering that when I started, I didn’t know anything about kids. I was a Political Science major in need of a job post-college when one of the nation’s most respected youth services organizations was looking for a few good men. I use that term figuratively and literally as I was also a United States Marine, and I think the agency was looking for a little muscle to help out with the older troubled youth at a campus. Unfortunately for them, I’m much smaller than my deep voice on the phone would lead you to believe. A COVID-19 Dose of Reality When the COVID-19 shutdowns came to fruition, I knew that there seemed something oddly familiar with all of the weeping and gnashing of teeth that came about. “Where will my kids go to school” or “my child is missing graduation, prom, and all their youthful milestones” were the pleas coming from parents from sea to shining sea. Loss of income put stress on households, and families wondered if they would have a place to live next month or even next week. Mental health came into the focus as the chronic toxic stress exacerbated issues like substance abuse and trauma coming from life in frequent fear. “I’m going to lose everything I’ve ever known in an instant” is the lamentation coming from business owners who don’t understand the decisions being made against their will and supposedly on their behalf by the government. That’s when it hit me. “Oh, America has turned into a nation of foster children,” I said to myself. A Day in the Life of Foster Care All of the anxiety and uncertainty that you and your family are facing right now is but a shadow image of what our foster children face every single day in the child welfare system. You may not know where your child is going to school or what that school environment will look like? Neither does a foster child who has moved from the only home they have ever known. Did your child miss milestones like prom and graduation? So do foster children as they often have to move from home to home and school placement to another. You may not know if you are going to be able to make rent and if you will be able to keep your home and many foster children have no idea if “the new placement” will keep them any longer than the last. If you are struggling with trauma or substance abuse that is triggered by the stress of the unknown, well, kids who live daily in the unknown are not any different. Finally, if you have lost everything you have even known or worked for, then I am genuinely sorry. Just know that when a DCS worker shows up to a child’s home with a black plastic garbage bag, aka the luggage of foster care, they too have lost it all. They are also told it is for their own good, and the fact that it may be true doesn’t lessen the sting or the pain. Empathy is the First Step Towards Action I told you the story about unpreparedness for the career that laid ahead of me for a reason. As a young supervisor working on a residential campus where youth came to live temporarily, I didn’t get it. I did well by the kids and always treated them fairly and with care, but I didn’t have the empathy to fully understand what I was seeing. I can remember a youth crying profusely on his first night there, and I had nothing to offer or console. Fast forward about seven years later into that career, and I was married with my first daughter. During that time, I received a tour of our new residential treatment center for girls when a young teen girl was being restrained for self-harm. She began sobbing, and then, just then, it finally hit me. Behind those tears, I could finally hear the pleas of “I shouldn’t be here” or “why did this happen to me” that rang out in the halls. It took having my daughter to finally gain the proper empathy, and for the first time in my career, tears came to me. I fully understood, and that moment informed the rest of my career. Empathy is the first step towards taking action and truly transforming a youth’s life. If COVID-19 has stressed you and your family, I plead with you to search for empathy for youth who experience those stresses every day. I’m no longer in child welfare services, but I’m confident that front line workers are working harder than ever to support those youth. However, those youth need a family - If you have ever considered answering the call, those youth need you right now. COVID-19 be damned, let empathy carry you forward to action and create change in the child welfare system, one family at a time. Nearly 20 years ago, I embarked on what would be a fascinating career serving some of our nation’s most troubled youth. A remarkable career considering that when I started, I didn’t know anything about kids. I was a Political Science major in need of a job post-college when one of the nation’s most respected youth services organizations was looking for a few good men. I use that term figuratively and literally as I was also a United States Marine, and I think the agency was looking for a little muscle to help out with the older troubled youth at a campus. Unfortunately for them, I’m much smaller than my deep voice on the phone would lead you to believe. A COVID-19 Dose of Reality When the COVID-19 shutdowns came to fruition, I knew that there seemed something oddly familiar with all of the weeping and gnashing of teeth that came about. “Where will my kids go to school” or “my child is missing graduation, prom, and all their youthful milestones” were the pleas coming from parents from sea to shining sea. Loss of income put stress on households, and families wondered if they would have a place to live next month or even next week. Mental health came into the focus as the chronic toxic stress exacerbated issues like substance abuse and trauma coming from life in frequent fear. “I’m going to lose everything I’ve ever known in an instant” is the lamentation coming from business owners who don’t understand the decisions being made against their will and supposedly on their behalf by the government. That’s when it hit me. “Oh, America has turned into a nation of foster children,” I said to myself. A Day in the Life of Foster Care All of the anxiety and uncertainty that you and your family are facing right now is but a shadow image of what our foster children face every single day in the child welfare system. You may not know where your child is going to school or what that school environment will look like? Neither does a foster child who has moved from the only home they have ever known. Did your child miss milestones like prom and graduation? So do foster children as they often have to move from home to home and school placement to another. You may not know if you are going to be able to make rent and if you will be able to keep your home and many foster children have no idea if “the new placement” will keep them any longer than the last. If you are struggling with trauma or substance abuse that is triggered by the stress of the unknown, well, kids who live daily in the unknown are not any different. Finally, if you have lost everything you have even known or worked for, then I am genuinely sorry. Just know that when a DCS worker shows up to a child’s home with a black plastic garbage bag, aka the luggage of foster care, they too have lost it all. They are also told it is for their own good, and the fact that it may be true doesn’t lessen the sting or the pain. Empathy is the First Step Towards Action I told you the story about unpreparedness for the career that laid ahead of me for a reason. As a young supervisor working on a residential campus where youth came to live temporarily, I didn’t get it. I did well by the kids and always treated them fairly and with care, but I didn’t have the empathy to fully understand what I was seeing. I can remember a youth crying profusely on his first night there, and I had nothing to offer or console. Fast forward about seven years later into that career, and I was married with my first daughter. During that time, I received a tour of our new residential treatment center for girls when a young teen girl was being restrained for self-harm. She began sobbing, and then, just then, it finally hit me. Behind those tears, I could finally hear the pleas of “I shouldn’t be here” or “why did this happen to me” that rang out in the halls. It took having my daughter to finally gain the proper empathy, and for the first time in my career, tears came to me. I fully understood, and that moment informed the rest of my career. Empathy is the first step towards taking action and truly transforming a youth’s life. If COVID-19 has stressed you and your family, I plead with you to search for empathy for youth who experience those stresses every day. I’m no longer in child welfare services, but I’m confident that front line workers are working harder than ever to support those youth. However, those youth need a family - If you have ever considered answering the call, those youth need you right now. COVID-19 be damned, let empathy carry you forward to action and create change in the child welfare system, one family at a time. Nearly 20 years ago, I embarked on what would be a fascinating career serving some of our nation’s most troubled youth. A remarkable career considering that when I started, I didn’t know anything about kids. I was a Political Science major in need of a job post-college when one of the nation’s most respected youth services organizations was looking for a few good men. I use that term figuratively and literally as I was also a United States Marine, and I think the agency was looking for a little muscle to help out with the older troubled youth at a campus. Unfortunately for them, I’m much smaller than my deep voice on the phone would lead you to believe. A COVID-19 Dose of Reality When the COVID-19 shutdowns came to fruition, I knew that there seemed something oddly familiar with all of the weeping and gnashing of teeth that came about. “Where will my kids go to school” or “my child is missing graduation, prom, and all their youthful milestones” were the pleas coming from parents from sea to shining sea. Loss of income put stress on households, and families wondered if they would have a place to live next month or even next week. Mental health came into the focus as the chronic toxic stress exacerbated issues like substance abuse and trauma coming from life in frequent fear. “I’m going to lose everything I’ve ever known in an instant” is the lamentation coming from business owners who don’t understand the decisions being made against their will and supposedly on their behalf by the government. That’s when it hit me. “Oh, America has turned into a nation of foster children,” I said to myself. A Day in the Life of Foster Care All of the anxiety and uncertainty that you and your family are facing right now is but a shadow image of what our foster children face every single day in the child welfare system. You may not know where your child is going to school or what that school environment will look like? Neither does a foster child who has moved from the only home they have ever known. Did your child miss milestones like prom and graduation? So do foster children as they often have to move from home to home and school placement to another. You may not know if you are going to be able to make rent and if you will be able to keep your home and many foster children have no idea if “the new placement” will keep them any longer than the last. If you are struggling with trauma or substance abuse that is triggered by the stress of the unknown, well, kids who live daily in the unknown are not any different. Finally, if you have lost everything you have even known or worked for, then I am genuinely sorry. Just know that when a DCS worker shows up to a child’s home with a black plastic garbage bag, aka the luggage of foster care, they too have lost it all. They are also told it is for their own good, and the fact that it may be true doesn’t lessen the sting or the pain. Empathy is the First Step Towards Action I told you the story about unpreparedness for the career that laid ahead of me for a reason. As a young supervisor working on a residential campus where youth came to live temporarily, I didn’t get it. I did well by the kids and always treated them fairly and with care, but I didn’t have the empathy to fully understand what I was seeing. I can remember a youth crying profusely on his first night there, and I had nothing to offer or console. Fast forward about seven years later into that career, and I was married with my first daughter. During that time, I received a tour of our new residential treatment center for girls when a young teen girl was being restrained for self-harm. She began sobbing, and then, just then, it finally hit me. Behind those tears, I could finally hear the pleas of “I shouldn’t be here” or “why did this happen to me” that rang out in the halls. It took having my daughter to finally gain the proper empathy, and for the first time in my career, tears came to me. I fully understood, and that moment informed the rest of my career. Empathy is the first step towards taking action and truly transforming a youth’s life. If COVID-19 has stressed you and your family, I plead with you to search for empathy for youth who experience those stresses every day. I’m no longer in child welfare services, but I’m confident that front line workers are working harder than ever to support those youth. However, those youth need a family - If you have ever considered answering the call, those youth need you right now. COVID-19 be damned, let empathy carry you forward to action and create change in the child welfare system, one family at a time. Nearly 20 years ago, I embarked on what would be a fascinating career serving some of our nation’s most troubled youth. A remarkable career considering that when I started, I didn’t know anything about kids. I was a Political Science major in need of a job post-college when one of the nation’s most respected youth services organizations was looking for a few good men. I use that term figuratively and literally as I was also a United States Marine, and I think the agency was looking for a little muscle to help out with the older troubled youth at a campus. Unfortunately for them, I’m much smaller than my deep voice on the phone would lead you to believe. A COVID-19 Dose of Reality When the COVID-19 shutdowns came to fruition, I knew that there seemed something oddly familiar with all of the weeping and gnashing of teeth that came about. “Where will my kids go to school” or “my child is missing graduation, prom, and all their youthful milestones” were the pleas coming from parents from sea to shining sea. Loss of income put stress on households, and families wondered if they would have a place to live next month or even next week. Mental health came into the focus as the chronic toxic stress exacerbated issues like substance abuse and trauma coming from life in frequent fear. “I’m going to lose everything I’ve ever known in an instant” is the lamentation coming from business owners who don’t understand the decisions being made against their will and supposedly on their behalf by the government. That’s when it hit me. “Oh, America has turned into a nation of foster children,” I said to myself. A Day in the Life of Foster Care All of the anxiety and uncertainty that you and your family are facing right now is but a shadow image of what our foster children face every single day in the child welfare system. You may not know where your child is going to school or what that school environment will look like? Neither does a foster child who has moved from the only home they have ever known. Did your child miss milestones like prom and graduation? So do foster children as they often have to move from home to home and school placement to another. You may not know if you are going to be able to make rent and if you will be able to keep your home and many foster children have no idea if “the new placement” will keep them any longer than the last. If you are struggling with trauma or substance abuse that is triggered by the stress of the unknown, well, kids who live daily in the unknown are not any different. Finally, if you have lost everything you have even known or worked for, then I am genuinely sorry. Just know that when a DCS worker shows up to a child’s home with a black plastic garbage bag, aka the luggage of foster care, they too have lost it all. They are also told it is for their own good, and the fact that it may be true doesn’t lessen the sting or the pain. Empathy is the First Step Towards Action I told you the story about unpreparedness for the career that laid ahead of me for a reason. As a young supervisor working on a residential campus where youth came to live temporarily, I didn’t get it. I did well by the kids and always treated them fairly and with care, but I didn’t have the empathy to fully understand what I was seeing. I can remember a youth crying profusely on his first night there, and I had nothing to offer or console. Fast forward about seven years later into that career, and I was married with my first daughter. During that time, I received a tour of our new residential treatment center for girls when a young teen girl was being restrained for self-harm. She began sobbing, and then, just then, it finally hit me. Behind those tears, I could finally hear the pleas of “I shouldn’t be here” or “why did this happen to me” that rang out in the halls. It took having my daughter to finally gain the proper empathy, and for the first time in my career, tears came to me. I fully understood, and that moment informed the rest of my career. Empathy is the first step towards taking action and truly transforming a youth’s life. If COVID-19 has stressed you and your family, I plead with you to search for empathy for youth who experience those stresses every day. I’m no longer in child welfare services, but I’m confident that front line workers are working harder than ever to support those youth. However, those youth need a family - If you have ever considered answering the call, those youth need you right now. COVID-19 be damned, let empathy carry you forward to action and create change in the child welfare system, one family at a time. Nearly 20 years ago, I embarked on what would be a fascinating career serving some of our nation’s most troubled youth. A remarkable career considering that when I started, I didn’t know anything about kids. I was a Political Science major in need of a job post-college when one of the nation’s most respected youth services organizations was looking for a few good men. I use that term figuratively and literally as I was also a United States Marine, and I think the agency was looking for a little muscle to help out with the older troubled youth at a campus. Unfortunately for them, I’m much smaller than my deep voice on the phone would lead you to believe. A COVID-19 Dose of Reality When the COVID-19 shutdowns came to fruition, I knew that there seemed something oddly familiar with all of the weeping and gnashing of teeth that came about. “Where will my kids go to school” or “my child is missing graduation, prom, and all their youthful milestones” were the pleas coming from parents from sea to shining sea. Loss of income put stress on households, and families wondered if they would have a place to live next month or even next week. Mental health came into the focus as the chronic toxic stress exacerbated issues like substance abuse and trauma coming from life in frequent fear. “I’m going to lose everything I’ve ever known in an instant” is the lamentation coming from business owners who don’t understand the decisions being made against their will and supposedly on their behalf by the government. That’s when it hit me. “Oh, America has turned into a nation of foster children,” I said to myself. A Day in the Life of Foster Care All of the anxiety and uncertainty that you and your family are facing right now is but a shadow image of what our foster children face every single day in the child welfare system. You may not know where your child is going to school or what that school environment will look like? Neither does a foster child who has moved from the only home they have ever known. Did your child miss milestones like prom and graduation? So do foster children as they often have to move from home to home and school placement to another. You may not know if you are going to be able to make rent and if you will be able to keep your home and many foster children have no idea if “the new placement” will keep them any longer than the last. If you are struggling with trauma or substance abuse that is triggered by the stress of the unknown, well, kids who live daily in the unknown are not any different. Finally, if you have lost everything you have even known or worked for, then I am genuinely sorry. Just know that when a DCS worker shows up to a child’s home with a black plastic garbage bag, aka the luggage of foster care, they too have lost it all. They are also told it is for their own good, and the fact that it may be true doesn’t lessen the sting or the pain. Empathy is the First Step Towards Action I told you the story about unpreparedness for the career that laid ahead of me for a reason. As a young supervisor working on a residential campus where youth came to live temporarily, I didn’t get it. I did well by the kids and always treated them fairly and with care, but I didn’t have the empathy to fully understand what I was seeing. I can remember a youth crying profusely on his first night there, and I had nothing to offer or console. Fast forward about seven years later into that career, and I was married with my first daughter. During that time, I received a tour of our new residential treatment center for girls when a young teen girl was being restrained for self-harm. She began sobbing, and then, just then, it finally hit me. Behind those tears, I could finally hear the pleas of “I shouldn’t be here” or “why did this happen to me” that rang out in the halls. It took having my daughter to finally gain the proper empathy, and for the first time in my career, tears came to me. I fully understood, and that moment informed the rest of my career. Empathy is the first step towards taking action and truly transforming a youth’s life. If COVID-19 has stressed you and your family, I plead with you to search for empathy for youth who experience those stresses every day. I’m no longer in child welfare services, but I’m confident that front line workers are working harder than ever to support those youth. However, those youth need a family - If you have ever considered answering the call, those youth need you right now. COVID-19 be damned, let empathy carry you forward to action and create change in the child welfare system, one family at a time. Nearly 20 years ago, I embarked on what would be a fascinating career serving some of our nation’s most troubled youth. A remarkable career considering that when I started, I didn’t know anything about kids. I was a Political Science major in need of a job post-college when one of the nation’s most respected youth services organizations was looking for a few good men. I use that term figuratively and literally as I was also a United States Marine, and I think the agency was looking for a little muscle to help out with the older troubled youth at a campus. Unfortunately for them, I’m much smaller than my deep voice on the phone would lead you to believe. A COVID-19 Dose of Reality When the COVID-19 shutdowns came to fruition, I knew that there seemed something oddly familiar with all of the weeping and gnashing of teeth that came about. “Where will my kids go to school” or “my child is missing graduation, prom, and all their youthful milestones” were the pleas coming from parents from sea to shining sea. Loss of income put stress on households, and families wondered if they would have a place to live next month or even next week. Mental health came into the focus as the chronic toxic stress exacerbated issues like substance abuse and trauma coming from life in frequent fear. “I’m going to lose everything I’ve ever known in an instant” is the lamentation coming from business owners who don’t understand the decisions being made against their will and supposedly on their behalf by the government. That’s when it hit me. “Oh, America has turned into a nation of foster children,” I said to myself. A Day in the Life of Foster Care All of the anxiety and uncertainty that you and your family are facing right now is but a shadow image of what our foster children face every single day in the child welfare system. You may not know where your child is going to school or what that school environment will look like? Neither does a foster child who has moved from the only home they have ever known. Did your child miss milestones like prom and graduation? So do foster children as they often have to move from home to home and school placement to another. You may not know if you are going to be able to make rent and if you will be able to keep your home and many foster children have no idea if “the new placement” will keep them any longer than the last. If you are struggling with trauma or substance abuse that is triggered by the stress of the unknown, well, kids who live daily in the unknown are not any different. Finally, if you have lost everything you have even known or worked for, then I am genuinely sorry. Just know that when a DCS worker shows up to a child’s home with a black plastic garbage bag, aka the luggage of foster care, they too have lost it all. They are also told it is for their own good, and the fact that it may be true doesn’t lessen the sting or the pain. Empathy is the First Step Towards Action I told you the story about unpreparedness for the career that laid ahead of me for a reason. As a young supervisor working on a residential campus where youth came to live temporarily, I didn’t get it. I did well by the kids and always treated them fairly and with care, but I didn’t have the empathy to fully understand what I was seeing. I can remember a youth crying profusely on his first night there, and I had nothing to offer or console. Fast forward about seven years later into that career, and I was married with my first daughter. During that time, I received a tour of our new residential treatment center for girls when a young teen girl was being restrained for self-harm. She began sobbing, and then, just then, it finally hit me. Behind those tears, I could finally hear the pleas of “I shouldn’t be here” or “why did this happen to me” that rang out in the halls. It took having my daughter to finally gain the proper empathy, and for the first time in my career, tears came to me. I fully understood, and that moment informed the rest of my career. Empathy is the first step towards taking action and truly transforming a youth’s life. If COVID-19 has stressed you and your family, I plead with you to search for empathy for youth who experience those stresses every day. I’m no longer in child welfare services, but I’m confident that front line workers are working harder than ever to support those youth. However, those youth need a family - If you have ever considered answering the call, those youth need you right now. COVID-19 be damned, let empathy carry you forward to action and create change in the child welfare system, one family at a time.
by Jeff Edwards 17 min read

Adoption and the Never Ending Pursuit of a Forever Family

Without exception, perhaps the most tangible reward for a job well done in the child welfare service is seeing a young child find their forever family via adoption. Yes, it’s great to see children go back home to their birth families as well. To say that I enjoyed witnessing the adoption of a child ...
Without exception, perhaps the most tangible reward for a job well done in the child welfare service is seeing a young child find their forever family via adoption. Yes, it’s great to see children go back home to their birth families as well. To say that I enjoyed witnessing the adoption of a child is not to say that I prefer that outcome to the latter. Birth family reunification is a wonderful sight to see, but to see a child whose parental rights have been terminated emerge from the precipice of disaster to now having a place to call home for life is amazing. It’s like a 4th quarter comeback in football where the odds of success were slim to none. It is Appropriately and Disappointingly Hard to Terminate Parental Rights At the end of the day, it should be difficult to terminate the rights of one or both parents. Yet, at the end of that very same day, it is frustratingly difficult to watch a child languish in foster care while this process drags on. I’m not smart enough to offer a solution, and it is unlikely anyone would listen to me if I did, but I do want you to understand what this means for the youth in care, namely, that they will spend a very long time in care. Years in care as I’ve never seen a quick solution to this dilemma. Now, I don’t think that I need to share with you all the dangers associated with prolonged stays in the child welfare system. That’s not to disparage the staff, foster parents, agency works, and others involved. It’s just a messy system, and even when it goes well, it’s still messy. So what’s the harm of waiting years of care if the child is already living in their soon to be forever home? Over 13 years working in the field has taught me that no home is forever until the judge makes it official. Permanency Only Matters If It Is Permanent I’ve watched loving families take in a 2-year-old under the hopes of adopting them, but by the time the parental rights were terminated, that couple now had a kid of their own and are no longer interested in adoption. So the kid, who is now 4 or 5 years old, must leave the only home he remembers. I’ve seen a moderately well-behaved 10-year-old land in his potential forever home, and then, by the time the parental rights are terminated, he is an angry 13-year-old, and the parent can no longer handle his behavior. I’ve seen a potential adoptive parent back out the week the adoption was to be finalized. My friends, permanency only matters if it is indeed permanent. A forever family is only forever if it lasts. So when I see a child in a “forever home” while awaiting the termination of parental rights, I watch it with a great deal of anxiety. When the forever family is in court for the finalization, and the judge makes it official, I cheer like I’ve been watching a last-second hail mary float through the air for three years and finally come down and land in the endzone. So what’s the point of this story, and what can you do? Without exception, perhaps the most tangible reward for a job well done in the child welfare service is seeing a young child find their forever family via adoption. Yes, it’s great to see children go back home to their birth families as well. To say that I enjoyed witnessing the adoption of a child is not to say that I prefer that outcome to the latter. Birth family reunification is a wonderful sight to see, but to see a child whose parental rights have been terminated emerge from the precipice of disaster to now having a place to call home for life is amazing. It’s like a 4th quarter comeback in football where the odds of success were slim to none. It is Appropriately and Disappointingly Hard to Terminate Parental Rights At the end of the day, it should be difficult to terminate the rights of one or both parents. Yet, at the end of that very same day, it is frustratingly difficult to watch a child languish in foster care while this process drags on. I’m not smart enough to offer a solution, and it is unlikely anyone would listen to me if I did, but I do want you to understand what this means for the youth in care, namely, that they will spend a very long time in care. Years in care as I’ve never seen a quick solution to this dilemma. Now, I don’t think that I need to share with you all the dangers associated with prolonged stays in the child welfare system. That’s not to disparage the staff, foster parents, agency works, and others involved. It’s just a messy system, and even when it goes well, it’s still messy. So what’s the harm of waiting years of care if the child is already living in their soon to be forever home? Over 13 years working in the field has taught me that no home is forever until the judge makes it official. Permanency Only Matters If It Is Permanent I’ve watched loving families take in a 2-year-old under the hopes of adopting them, but by the time the parental rights were terminated, that couple now had a kid of their own and are no longer interested in adoption. So the kid, who is now 4 or 5 years old, must leave the only home he remembers. I’ve seen a moderately well-behaved 10-year-old land in his potential forever home, and then, by the time the parental rights are terminated, he is an angry 13-year-old, and the parent can no longer handle his behavior. I’ve seen a potential adoptive parent back out the week the adoption was to be finalized. My friends, permanency only matters if it is indeed permanent. A forever family is only forever if it lasts. So when I see a child in a “forever home” while awaiting the termination of parental rights, I watch it with a great deal of anxiety. When the forever family is in court for the finalization, and the judge makes it official, I cheer like I’ve been watching a last-second hail mary float through the air for three years and finally come down and land in the endzone. So what’s the point of this story, and what can you do? Without exception, perhaps the most tangible reward for a job well done in the child welfare service is seeing a young child find their forever family via adoption. Yes, it’s great to see children go back home to their birth families as well. To say that I enjoyed witnessing the adoption of a child is not to say that I prefer that outcome to the latter. Birth family reunification is a wonderful sight to see, but to see a child whose parental rights have been terminated emerge from the precipice of disaster to now having a place to call home for life is amazing. It’s like a 4th quarter comeback in football where the odds of success were slim to none. It is Appropriately and Disappointingly Hard to Terminate Parental Rights At the end of the day, it should be difficult to terminate the rights of one or both parents. Yet, at the end of that very same day, it is frustratingly difficult to watch a child languish in foster care while this process drags on. I’m not smart enough to offer a solution, and it is unlikely anyone would listen to me if I did, but I do want you to understand what this means for the youth in care, namely, that they will spend a very long time in care. Years in care as I’ve never seen a quick solution to this dilemma. Now, I don’t think that I need to share with you all the dangers associated with prolonged stays in the child welfare system. That’s not to disparage the staff, foster parents, agency works, and others involved. It’s just a messy system, and even when it goes well, it’s still messy. So what’s the harm of waiting years of care if the child is already living in their soon to be forever home? Over 13 years working in the field has taught me that no home is forever until the judge makes it official. Permanency Only Matters If It Is Permanent I’ve watched loving families take in a 2-year-old under the hopes of adopting them, but by the time the parental rights were terminated, that couple now had a kid of their own and are no longer interested in adoption. So the kid, who is now 4 or 5 years old, must leave the only home he remembers. I’ve seen a moderately well-behaved 10-year-old land in his potential forever home, and then, by the time the parental rights are terminated, he is an angry 13-year-old, and the parent can no longer handle his behavior. I’ve seen a potential adoptive parent back out the week the adoption was to be finalized. My friends, permanency only matters if it is indeed permanent. A forever family is only forever if it lasts. So when I see a child in a “forever home” while awaiting the termination of parental rights, I watch it with a great deal of anxiety. When the forever family is in court for the finalization, and the judge makes it official, I cheer like I’ve been watching a last-second hail mary float through the air for three years and finally come down and land in the endzone. So what’s the point of this story, and what can you do? Without exception, perhaps the most tangible reward for a job well done in the child welfare service is seeing a young child find their forever family via adoption. Yes, it’s great to see children go back home to their birth families as well. To say that I enjoyed witnessing the adoption of a child is not to say that I prefer that outcome to the latter. Birth family reunification is a wonderful sight to see, but to see a child whose parental rights have been terminated emerge from the precipice of disaster to now having a place to call home for life is amazing. It’s like a 4th quarter comeback in football where the odds of success were slim to none. It is Appropriately and Disappointingly Hard to Terminate Parental Rights At the end of the day, it should be difficult to terminate the rights of one or both parents. Yet, at the end of that very same day, it is frustratingly difficult to watch a child languish in foster care while this process drags on. I’m not smart enough to offer a solution, and it is unlikely anyone would listen to me if I did, but I do want you to understand what this means for the youth in care, namely, that they will spend a very long time in care. Years in care as I’ve never seen a quick solution to this dilemma. Now, I don’t think that I need to share with you all the dangers associated with prolonged stays in the child welfare system. That’s not to disparage the staff, foster parents, agency works, and others involved. It’s just a messy system, and even when it goes well, it’s still messy. So what’s the harm of waiting years of care if the child is already living in their soon to be forever home? Over 13 years working in the field has taught me that no home is forever until the judge makes it official. Permanency Only Matters If It Is Permanent I’ve watched loving families take in a 2-year-old under the hopes of adopting them, but by the time the parental rights were terminated, that couple now had a kid of their own and are no longer interested in adoption. So the kid, who is now 4 or 5 years old, must leave the only home he remembers. I’ve seen a moderately well-behaved 10-year-old land in his potential forever home, and then, by the time the parental rights are terminated, he is an angry 13-year-old, and the parent can no longer handle his behavior. I’ve seen a potential adoptive parent back out the week the adoption was to be finalized. My friends, permanency only matters if it is indeed permanent. A forever family is only forever if it lasts. So when I see a child in a “forever home” while awaiting the termination of parental rights, I watch it with a great deal of anxiety. When the forever family is in court for the finalization, and the judge makes it official, I cheer like I’ve been watching a last-second hail mary float through the air for three years and finally come down and land in the endzone. So what’s the point of this story, and what can you do? Without exception, perhaps the most tangible reward for a job well done in the child welfare service is seeing a young child find their forever family via adoption. Yes, it’s great to see children go back home to their birth families as well. To say that I enjoyed witnessing the adoption of a child is not to say that I prefer that outcome to the latter. Birth family reunification is a wonderful sight to see, but to see a child whose parental rights have been terminated emerge from the precipice of disaster to now having a place to call home for life is amazing. It’s like a 4th quarter comeback in football where the odds of success were slim to none. It is Appropriately and Disappointingly Hard to Terminate Parental Rights At the end of the day, it should be difficult to terminate the rights of one or both parents. Yet, at the end of that very same day, it is frustratingly difficult to watch a child languish in foster care while this process drags on. I’m not smart enough to offer a solution, and it is unlikely anyone would listen to me if I did, but I do want you to understand what this means for the youth in care, namely, that they will spend a very long time in care. Years in care as I’ve never seen a quick solution to this dilemma. Now, I don’t think that I need to share with you all the dangers associated with prolonged stays in the child welfare system. That’s not to disparage the staff, foster parents, agency works, and others involved. It’s just a messy system, and even when it goes well, it’s still messy. So what’s the harm of waiting years of care if the child is already living in their soon to be forever home? Over 13 years working in the field has taught me that no home is forever until the judge makes it official. Permanency Only Matters If It Is Permanent I’ve watched loving families take in a 2-year-old under the hopes of adopting them, but by the time the parental rights were terminated, that couple now had a kid of their own and are no longer interested in adoption. So the kid, who is now 4 or 5 years old, must leave the only home he remembers. I’ve seen a moderately well-behaved 10-year-old land in his potential forever home, and then, by the time the parental rights are terminated, he is an angry 13-year-old, and the parent can no longer handle his behavior. I’ve seen a potential adoptive parent back out the week the adoption was to be finalized. My friends, permanency only matters if it is indeed permanent. A forever family is only forever if it lasts. So when I see a child in a “forever home” while awaiting the termination of parental rights, I watch it with a great deal of anxiety. When the forever family is in court for the finalization, and the judge makes it official, I cheer like I’ve been watching a last-second hail mary float through the air for three years and finally come down and land in the endzone. So what’s the point of this story, and what can you do? Without exception, perhaps the most tangible reward for a job well done in the child welfare service is seeing a young child find their forever family via adoption. Yes, it’s great to see children go back home to their birth families as well. To say that I enjoyed witnessing the adoption of a child is not to say that I prefer that outcome to the latter. Birth family reunification is a wonderful sight to see, but to see a child whose parental rights have been terminated emerge from the precipice of disaster to now having a place to call home for life is amazing. It’s like a 4th quarter comeback in football where the odds of success were slim to none. It is Appropriately and Disappointingly Hard to Terminate Parental Rights At the end of the day, it should be difficult to terminate the rights of one or both parents. Yet, at the end of that very same day, it is frustratingly difficult to watch a child languish in foster care while this process drags on. I’m not smart enough to offer a solution, and it is unlikely anyone would listen to me if I did, but I do want you to understand what this means for the youth in care, namely, that they will spend a very long time in care. Years in care as I’ve never seen a quick solution to this dilemma. Now, I don’t think that I need to share with you all the dangers associated with prolonged stays in the child welfare system. That’s not to disparage the staff, foster parents, agency works, and others involved. It’s just a messy system, and even when it goes well, it’s still messy. So what’s the harm of waiting years of care if the child is already living in their soon to be forever home? Over 13 years working in the field has taught me that no home is forever until the judge makes it official. Permanency Only Matters If It Is Permanent I’ve watched loving families take in a 2-year-old under the hopes of adopting them, but by the time the parental rights were terminated, that couple now had a kid of their own and are no longer interested in adoption. So the kid, who is now 4 or 5 years old, must leave the only home he remembers. I’ve seen a moderately well-behaved 10-year-old land in his potential forever home, and then, by the time the parental rights are terminated, he is an angry 13-year-old, and the parent can no longer handle his behavior. I’ve seen a potential adoptive parent back out the week the adoption was to be finalized. My friends, permanency only matters if it is indeed permanent. A forever family is only forever if it lasts. So when I see a child in a “forever home” while awaiting the termination of parental rights, I watch it with a great deal of anxiety. When the forever family is in court for the finalization, and the judge makes it official, I cheer like I’ve been watching a last-second hail mary float through the air for three years and finally come down and land in the endzone. So what’s the point of this story, and what can you do? Without exception, perhaps the most tangible reward for a job well done in the child welfare service is seeing a young child find their forever family via adoption. Yes, it’s great to see children go back home to their birth families as well. To say that I enjoyed witnessing the adoption of a child is not to say that I prefer that outcome to the latter. Birth family reunification is a wonderful sight to see, but to see a child whose parental rights have been terminated emerge from the precipice of disaster to now having a place to call home for life is amazing. It’s like a 4th quarter comeback in football where the odds of success were slim to none. It is Appropriately and Disappointingly Hard to Terminate Parental Rights At the end of the day, it should be difficult to terminate the rights of one or both parents. Yet, at the end of that very same day, it is frustratingly difficult to watch a child languish in foster care while this process drags on. I’m not smart enough to offer a solution, and it is unlikely anyone would listen to me if I did, but I do want you to understand what this means for the youth in care, namely, that they will spend a very long time in care. Years in care as I’ve never seen a quick solution to this dilemma. Now, I don’t think that I need to share with you all the dangers associated with prolonged stays in the child welfare system. That’s not to disparage the staff, foster parents, agency works, and others involved. It’s just a messy system, and even when it goes well, it’s still messy. So what’s the harm of waiting years of care if the child is already living in their soon to be forever home? Over 13 years working in the field has taught me that no home is forever until the judge makes it official. Permanency Only Matters If It Is Permanent I’ve watched loving families take in a 2-year-old under the hopes of adopting them, but by the time the parental rights were terminated, that couple now had a kid of their own and are no longer interested in adoption. So the kid, who is now 4 or 5 years old, must leave the only home he remembers. I’ve seen a moderately well-behaved 10-year-old land in his potential forever home, and then, by the time the parental rights are terminated, he is an angry 13-year-old, and the parent can no longer handle his behavior. I’ve seen a potential adoptive parent back out the week the adoption was to be finalized. My friends, permanency only matters if it is indeed permanent. A forever family is only forever if it lasts. So when I see a child in a “forever home” while awaiting the termination of parental rights, I watch it with a great deal of anxiety. When the forever family is in court for the finalization, and the judge makes it official, I cheer like I’ve been watching a last-second hail mary float through the air for three years and finally come down and land in the endzone. So what’s the point of this story, and what can you do? Without exception, perhaps the most tangible reward for a job well done in the child welfare service is seeing a young child find their forever family via adoption. Yes, it’s great to see children go back home to their birth families as well. To say that I enjoyed witnessing the adoption of a child is not to say that I prefer that outcome to the latter. Birth family reunification is a wonderful sight to see, but to see a child whose parental rights have been terminated emerge from the precipice of disaster to now having a place to call home for life is amazing. It’s like a 4th quarter comeback in football where the odds of success were slim to none. It is Appropriately and Disappointingly Hard to Terminate Parental Rights At the end of the day, it should be difficult to terminate the rights of one or both parents. Yet, at the end of that very same day, it is frustratingly difficult to watch a child languish in foster care while this process drags on. I’m not smart enough to offer a solution, and it is unlikely anyone would listen to me if I did, but I do want you to understand what this means for the youth in care, namely, that they will spend a very long time in care. Years in care as I’ve never seen a quick solution to this dilemma. Now, I don’t think that I need to share with you all the dangers associated with prolonged stays in the child welfare system. That’s not to disparage the staff, foster parents, agency works, and others involved. It’s just a messy system, and even when it goes well, it’s still messy. So what’s the harm of waiting years of care if the child is already living in their soon to be forever home? Over 13 years working in the field has taught me that no home is forever until the judge makes it official. Permanency Only Matters If It Is Permanent I’ve watched loving families take in a 2-year-old under the hopes of adopting them, but by the time the parental rights were terminated, that couple now had a kid of their own and are no longer interested in adoption. So the kid, who is now 4 or 5 years old, must leave the only home he remembers. I’ve seen a moderately well-behaved 10-year-old land in his potential forever home, and then, by the time the parental rights are terminated, he is an angry 13-year-old, and the parent can no longer handle his behavior. I’ve seen a potential adoptive parent back out the week the adoption was to be finalized. My friends, permanency only matters if it is indeed permanent. A forever family is only forever if it lasts. So when I see a child in a “forever home” while awaiting the termination of parental rights, I watch it with a great deal of anxiety. When the forever family is in court for the finalization, and the judge makes it official, I cheer like I’ve been watching a last-second hail mary float through the air for three years and finally come down and land in the endzone. So what’s the point of this story, and what can you do? Without exception, perhaps the most tangible reward for a job well done in the child welfare service is seeing a young child find their forever family via adoption. Yes, it’s great to see children go back home to their birth families as well. To say that I enjoyed witnessing the adoption of a child is not to say that I prefer that outcome to the latter. Birth family reunification is a wonderful sight to see, but to see a child whose parental rights have been terminated emerge from the precipice of disaster to now having a place to call home for life is amazing. It’s like a 4th quarter comeback in football where the odds of success were slim to none. It is Appropriately and Disappointingly Hard to Terminate Parental Rights At the end of the day, it should be difficult to terminate the rights of one or both parents. Yet, at the end of that very same day, it is frustratingly difficult to watch a child languish in foster care while this process drags on. I’m not smart enough to offer a solution, and it is unlikely anyone would listen to me if I did, but I do want you to understand what this means for the youth in care, namely, that they will spend a very long time in care. Years in care as I’ve never seen a quick solution to this dilemma. Now, I don’t think that I need to share with you all the dangers associated with prolonged stays in the child welfare system. That’s not to disparage the staff, foster parents, agency works, and others involved. It’s just a messy system, and even when it goes well, it’s still messy. So what’s the harm of waiting years of care if the child is already living in their soon to be forever home? Over 13 years working in the field has taught me that no home is forever until the judge makes it official. Permanency Only Matters If It Is Permanent I’ve watched loving families take in a 2-year-old under the hopes of adopting them, but by the time the parental rights were terminated, that couple now had a kid of their own and are no longer interested in adoption. So the kid, who is now 4 or 5 years old, must leave the only home he remembers. I’ve seen a moderately well-behaved 10-year-old land in his potential forever home, and then, by the time the parental rights are terminated, he is an angry 13-year-old, and the parent can no longer handle his behavior. I’ve seen a potential adoptive parent back out the week the adoption was to be finalized. My friends, permanency only matters if it is indeed permanent. A forever family is only forever if it lasts. So when I see a child in a “forever home” while awaiting the termination of parental rights, I watch it with a great deal of anxiety. When the forever family is in court for the finalization, and the judge makes it official, I cheer like I’ve been watching a last-second hail mary float through the air for three years and finally come down and land in the endzone. So what’s the point of this story, and what can you do? Without exception, perhaps the most tangible reward for a job well done in the child welfare service is seeing a young child find their forever family via adoption. Yes, it’s great to see children go back home to their birth families as well. To say that I enjoyed witnessing the adoption of a child is not to say that I prefer that outcome to the latter. Birth family reunification is a wonderful sight to see, but to see a child whose parental rights have been terminated emerge from the precipice of disaster to now having a place to call home for life is amazing. It’s like a 4th quarter comeback in football where the odds of success were slim to none. It is Appropriately and Disappointingly Hard to Terminate Parental Rights At the end of the day, it should be difficult to terminate the rights of one or both parents. Yet, at the end of that very same day, it is frustratingly difficult to watch a child languish in foster care while this process drags on. I’m not smart enough to offer a solution, and it is unlikely anyone would listen to me if I did, but I do want you to understand what this means for the youth in care, namely, that they will spend a very long time in care. Years in care as I’ve never seen a quick solution to this dilemma. Now, I don’t think that I need to share with you all the dangers associated with prolonged stays in the child welfare system. That’s not to disparage the staff, foster parents, agency works, and others involved. It’s just a messy system, and even when it goes well, it’s still messy. So what’s the harm of waiting years of care if the child is already living in their soon to be forever home? Over 13 years working in the field has taught me that no home is forever until the judge makes it official. Permanency Only Matters If It Is Permanent I’ve watched loving families take in a 2-year-old under the hopes of adopting them, but by the time the parental rights were terminated, that couple now had a kid of their own and are no longer interested in adoption. So the kid, who is now 4 or 5 years old, must leave the only home he remembers. I’ve seen a moderately well-behaved 10-year-old land in his potential forever home, and then, by the time the parental rights are terminated, he is an angry 13-year-old, and the parent can no longer handle his behavior. I’ve seen a potential adoptive parent back out the week the adoption was to be finalized. My friends, permanency only matters if it is indeed permanent. A forever family is only forever if it lasts. So when I see a child in a “forever home” while awaiting the termination of parental rights, I watch it with a great deal of anxiety. When the forever family is in court for the finalization, and the judge makes it official, I cheer like I’ve been watching a last-second hail mary float through the air for three years and finally come down and land in the endzone. So what’s the point of this story, and what can you do?
by Jeff Edwards 11 min read

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