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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

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

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

Fire for Effect: Using Evidence in Foster Care

Despite my 13-plus year career in the child welfare sector, I was never a clinician. I managed clinicians in an administrative capacity for a large number of those years and as such, a good deal of the information stuck with me. Yet, I could always count on my beloved clinicians to remind me that a ...
Despite my 13-plus year career in the child welfare sector, I was never a clinician. I managed clinicians in an administrative capacity for a large number of those years and as such, a good deal of the information stuck with me. Yet, I could always count on my beloved clinicians to remind me that a fellow clinician, I was not. In truth, the relationship worked great. I leveraged the sum of my administrative ability to put the right clinician in the right place and armed with the right tools to make a difference in the lives of the children we served. Now, I had it better than many of my administrative peers with other organizations because I could truly say I belonged to an organization dedicated to following the evidence of what works. Looking back at my career now, I don’t know how any organization could do anything other than heed the evidence given what is at stake. If I can borrow a few minutes of your time, I’d like to share with you what I believe to be the moral responsibility of child welfare agencies nationwide to follow the evidence, wherever it may lead them. There is No Debate About Evidence Based Practices Now, to be clear there is certainly a good and robust clinical debate about which EBPs were the most effective. Personally, I’d like to weigh in from time to time just to rustle the jimmies of the clinicians that an administrator has an opinion. Yet, for the most part I let clinical services do what they were designed to do. So when I say there is no debate about EBPs, what I really mean is that there is no debate on whether not the evidence should guide our decisions. Relying on good luck, fortune, and whatever clinical approach pops into your head at the moment seems criminally negligent given the young lives that we are asked to steward. On a good day the American foster care system must seem like a cruel game of Frogger to the youth that must endure and if they knew how many of the adults responsible for their care were guessing about their future they’d have another reason, among many, to be angry. The Moral Responsibility to Follow the Evidence If there is not evidence to support your approach or you are not actively gathering the evidence to evaluate your approach, then you don’t belong in the field. I’m amazed at how we take the most vulnerable youth in America and accept the notion that guessing and doing our best is sufficient. NASA doesn’t operate that way, billion dollar multinational corporations don’t operate that way and It confused me as to why some organizations would do anything other than follow the evidence. Keep in mind, this is not a knock on the actual clinicians as they can only be armed with the tools that administrators give them or allow them to use. In a previous life, I was, still am, a United States Marine. When the artillery is attempting to locate and destroy a target, there will be a variety of adjustments called out in between rounds. However, when artillery is locked on target, the call to “fire for effect” is given and all hell reigns down upon that unfortunate location. In the United States of America, when we find evidence for what works to transform the lives of most vulnerable children, there should be a nationwide call to fire for effect. Doing anything else is simply morally irresponsible. I do realize that I get to say that with ease as I’m no longer in that field, but through the power of writing I can at least sound out the call to action. So please subscribe to our blog below or follow us on Linkedin and let us all cry out “fire for effect” together for public and private agencies to follow the evidence. Despite my 13-plus year career in the child welfare sector, I was never a clinician. I managed clinicians in an administrative capacity for a large number of those years and as such, a good deal of the information stuck with me. Yet, I could always count on my beloved clinicians to remind me that a fellow clinician, I was not. In truth, the relationship worked great. I leveraged the sum of my administrative ability to put the right clinician in the right place and armed with the right tools to make a difference in the lives of the children we served. Now, I had it better than many of my administrative peers with other organizations because I could truly say I belonged to an organization dedicated to following the evidence of what works. Looking back at my career now, I don’t know how any organization could do anything other than heed the evidence given what is at stake. If I can borrow a few minutes of your time, I’d like to share with you what I believe to be the moral responsibility of child welfare agencies nationwide to follow the evidence, wherever it may lead them. There is No Debate About Evidence Based Practices Now, to be clear there is certainly a good and robust clinical debate about which EBPs were the most effective. Personally, I’d like to weigh in from time to time just to rustle the jimmies of the clinicians that an administrator has an opinion. Yet, for the most part I let clinical services do what they were designed to do. So when I say there is no debate about EBPs, what I really mean is that there is no debate on whether not the evidence should guide our decisions. Relying on good luck, fortune, and whatever clinical approach pops into your head at the moment seems criminally negligent given the young lives that we are asked to steward. On a good day the American foster care system must seem like a cruel game of Frogger to the youth that must endure and if they knew how many of the adults responsible for their care were guessing about their future they’d have another reason, among many, to be angry. The Moral Responsibility to Follow the Evidence If there is not evidence to support your approach or you are not actively gathering the evidence to evaluate your approach, then you don’t belong in the field. I’m amazed at how we take the most vulnerable youth in America and accept the notion that guessing and doing our best is sufficient. NASA doesn’t operate that way, billion dollar multinational corporations don’t operate that way and It confused me as to why some organizations would do anything other than follow the evidence. Keep in mind, this is not a knock on the actual clinicians as they can only be armed with the tools that administrators give them or allow them to use. In a previous life, I was, still am, a United States Marine. When the artillery is attempting to locate and destroy a target, there will be a variety of adjustments called out in between rounds. However, when artillery is locked on target, the call to “fire for effect” is given and all hell reigns down upon that unfortunate location. In the United States of America, when we find evidence for what works to transform the lives of most vulnerable children, there should be a nationwide call to fire for effect. Doing anything else is simply morally irresponsible. I do realize that I get to say that with ease as I’m no longer in that field, but through the power of writing I can at least sound out the call to action. So please subscribe to our blog below or follow us on Linkedin and let us all cry out “fire for effect” together for public and private agencies to follow the evidence. Despite my 13-plus year career in the child welfare sector, I was never a clinician. I managed clinicians in an administrative capacity for a large number of those years and as such, a good deal of the information stuck with me. Yet, I could always count on my beloved clinicians to remind me that a fellow clinician, I was not. In truth, the relationship worked great. I leveraged the sum of my administrative ability to put the right clinician in the right place and armed with the right tools to make a difference in the lives of the children we served. Now, I had it better than many of my administrative peers with other organizations because I could truly say I belonged to an organization dedicated to following the evidence of what works. Looking back at my career now, I don’t know how any organization could do anything other than heed the evidence given what is at stake. If I can borrow a few minutes of your time, I’d like to share with you what I believe to be the moral responsibility of child welfare agencies nationwide to follow the evidence, wherever it may lead them. There is No Debate About Evidence Based Practices Now, to be clear there is certainly a good and robust clinical debate about which EBPs were the most effective. Personally, I’d like to weigh in from time to time just to rustle the jimmies of the clinicians that an administrator has an opinion. Yet, for the most part I let clinical services do what they were designed to do. So when I say there is no debate about EBPs, what I really mean is that there is no debate on whether not the evidence should guide our decisions. Relying on good luck, fortune, and whatever clinical approach pops into your head at the moment seems criminally negligent given the young lives that we are asked to steward. On a good day the American foster care system must seem like a cruel game of Frogger to the youth that must endure and if they knew how many of the adults responsible for their care were guessing about their future they’d have another reason, among many, to be angry. The Moral Responsibility to Follow the Evidence If there is not evidence to support your approach or you are not actively gathering the evidence to evaluate your approach, then you don’t belong in the field. I’m amazed at how we take the most vulnerable youth in America and accept the notion that guessing and doing our best is sufficient. NASA doesn’t operate that way, billion dollar multinational corporations don’t operate that way and It confused me as to why some organizations would do anything other than follow the evidence. Keep in mind, this is not a knock on the actual clinicians as they can only be armed with the tools that administrators give them or allow them to use. In a previous life, I was, still am, a United States Marine. When the artillery is attempting to locate and destroy a target, there will be a variety of adjustments called out in between rounds. However, when artillery is locked on target, the call to “fire for effect” is given and all hell reigns down upon that unfortunate location. In the United States of America, when we find evidence for what works to transform the lives of most vulnerable children, there should be a nationwide call to fire for effect. Doing anything else is simply morally irresponsible. I do realize that I get to say that with ease as I’m no longer in that field, but through the power of writing I can at least sound out the call to action. So please subscribe to our blog below or follow us on Linkedin and let us all cry out “fire for effect” together for public and private agencies to follow the evidence. Despite my 13-plus year career in the child welfare sector, I was never a clinician. I managed clinicians in an administrative capacity for a large number of those years and as such, a good deal of the information stuck with me. Yet, I could always count on my beloved clinicians to remind me that a fellow clinician, I was not. In truth, the relationship worked great. I leveraged the sum of my administrative ability to put the right clinician in the right place and armed with the right tools to make a difference in the lives of the children we served. Now, I had it better than many of my administrative peers with other organizations because I could truly say I belonged to an organization dedicated to following the evidence of what works. Looking back at my career now, I don’t know how any organization could do anything other than heed the evidence given what is at stake. If I can borrow a few minutes of your time, I’d like to share with you what I believe to be the moral responsibility of child welfare agencies nationwide to follow the evidence, wherever it may lead them. There is No Debate About Evidence Based Practices Now, to be clear there is certainly a good and robust clinical debate about which EBPs were the most effective. Personally, I’d like to weigh in from time to time just to rustle the jimmies of the clinicians that an administrator has an opinion. Yet, for the most part I let clinical services do what they were designed to do. So when I say there is no debate about EBPs, what I really mean is that there is no debate on whether not the evidence should guide our decisions. Relying on good luck, fortune, and whatever clinical approach pops into your head at the moment seems criminally negligent given the young lives that we are asked to steward. On a good day the American foster care system must seem like a cruel game of Frogger to the youth that must endure and if they knew how many of the adults responsible for their care were guessing about their future they’d have another reason, among many, to be angry. The Moral Responsibility to Follow the Evidence If there is not evidence to support your approach or you are not actively gathering the evidence to evaluate your approach, then you don’t belong in the field. I’m amazed at how we take the most vulnerable youth in America and accept the notion that guessing and doing our best is sufficient. NASA doesn’t operate that way, billion dollar multinational corporations don’t operate that way and It confused me as to why some organizations would do anything other than follow the evidence. Keep in mind, this is not a knock on the actual clinicians as they can only be armed with the tools that administrators give them or allow them to use. In a previous life, I was, still am, a United States Marine. When the artillery is attempting to locate and destroy a target, there will be a variety of adjustments called out in between rounds. However, when artillery is locked on target, the call to “fire for effect” is given and all hell reigns down upon that unfortunate location. In the United States of America, when we find evidence for what works to transform the lives of most vulnerable children, there should be a nationwide call to fire for effect. Doing anything else is simply morally irresponsible. I do realize that I get to say that with ease as I’m no longer in that field, but through the power of writing I can at least sound out the call to action. So please subscribe to our blog below or follow us on Linkedin and let us all cry out “fire for effect” together for public and private agencies to follow the evidence. Despite my 13-plus year career in the child welfare sector, I was never a clinician. I managed clinicians in an administrative capacity for a large number of those years and as such, a good deal of the information stuck with me. Yet, I could always count on my beloved clinicians to remind me that a fellow clinician, I was not. In truth, the relationship worked great. I leveraged the sum of my administrative ability to put the right clinician in the right place and armed with the right tools to make a difference in the lives of the children we served. Now, I had it better than many of my administrative peers with other organizations because I could truly say I belonged to an organization dedicated to following the evidence of what works. Looking back at my career now, I don’t know how any organization could do anything other than heed the evidence given what is at stake. If I can borrow a few minutes of your time, I’d like to share with you what I believe to be the moral responsibility of child welfare agencies nationwide to follow the evidence, wherever it may lead them. There is No Debate About Evidence Based Practices Now, to be clear there is certainly a good and robust clinical debate about which EBPs were the most effective. Personally, I’d like to weigh in from time to time just to rustle the jimmies of the clinicians that an administrator has an opinion. Yet, for the most part I let clinical services do what they were designed to do. So when I say there is no debate about EBPs, what I really mean is that there is no debate on whether not the evidence should guide our decisions. Relying on good luck, fortune, and whatever clinical approach pops into your head at the moment seems criminally negligent given the young lives that we are asked to steward. On a good day the American foster care system must seem like a cruel game of Frogger to the youth that must endure and if they knew how many of the adults responsible for their care were guessing about their future they’d have another reason, among many, to be angry. The Moral Responsibility to Follow the Evidence If there is not evidence to support your approach or you are not actively gathering the evidence to evaluate your approach, then you don’t belong in the field. I’m amazed at how we take the most vulnerable youth in America and accept the notion that guessing and doing our best is sufficient. NASA doesn’t operate that way, billion dollar multinational corporations don’t operate that way and It confused me as to why some organizations would do anything other than follow the evidence. Keep in mind, this is not a knock on the actual clinicians as they can only be armed with the tools that administrators give them or allow them to use. In a previous life, I was, still am, a United States Marine. When the artillery is attempting to locate and destroy a target, there will be a variety of adjustments called out in between rounds. However, when artillery is locked on target, the call to “fire for effect” is given and all hell reigns down upon that unfortunate location. In the United States of America, when we find evidence for what works to transform the lives of most vulnerable children, there should be a nationwide call to fire for effect. Doing anything else is simply morally irresponsible. I do realize that I get to say that with ease as I’m no longer in that field, but through the power of writing I can at least sound out the call to action. So please subscribe to our blog below or follow us on Linkedin and let us all cry out “fire for effect” together for public and private agencies to follow the evidence. Despite my 13-plus year career in the child welfare sector, I was never a clinician. I managed clinicians in an administrative capacity for a large number of those years and as such, a good deal of the information stuck with me. Yet, I could always count on my beloved clinicians to remind me that a fellow clinician, I was not. In truth, the relationship worked great. I leveraged the sum of my administrative ability to put the right clinician in the right place and armed with the right tools to make a difference in the lives of the children we served. Now, I had it better than many of my administrative peers with other organizations because I could truly say I belonged to an organization dedicated to following the evidence of what works. Looking back at my career now, I don’t know how any organization could do anything other than heed the evidence given what is at stake. If I can borrow a few minutes of your time, I’d like to share with you what I believe to be the moral responsibility of child welfare agencies nationwide to follow the evidence, wherever it may lead them. There is No Debate About Evidence Based Practices Now, to be clear there is certainly a good and robust clinical debate about which EBPs were the most effective. Personally, I’d like to weigh in from time to time just to rustle the jimmies of the clinicians that an administrator has an opinion. Yet, for the most part I let clinical services do what they were designed to do. So when I say there is no debate about EBPs, what I really mean is that there is no debate on whether not the evidence should guide our decisions. Relying on good luck, fortune, and whatever clinical approach pops into your head at the moment seems criminally negligent given the young lives that we are asked to steward. On a good day the American foster care system must seem like a cruel game of Frogger to the youth that must endure and if they knew how many of the adults responsible for their care were guessing about their future they’d have another reason, among many, to be angry. The Moral Responsibility to Follow the Evidence If there is not evidence to support your approach or you are not actively gathering the evidence to evaluate your approach, then you don’t belong in the field. I’m amazed at how we take the most vulnerable youth in America and accept the notion that guessing and doing our best is sufficient. NASA doesn’t operate that way, billion dollar multinational corporations don’t operate that way and It confused me as to why some organizations would do anything other than follow the evidence. Keep in mind, this is not a knock on the actual clinicians as they can only be armed with the tools that administrators give them or allow them to use. In a previous life, I was, still am, a United States Marine. When the artillery is attempting to locate and destroy a target, there will be a variety of adjustments called out in between rounds. However, when artillery is locked on target, the call to “fire for effect” is given and all hell reigns down upon that unfortunate location. In the United States of America, when we find evidence for what works to transform the lives of most vulnerable children, there should be a nationwide call to fire for effect. Doing anything else is simply morally irresponsible. I do realize that I get to say that with ease as I’m no longer in that field, but through the power of writing I can at least sound out the call to action. So please subscribe to our blog below or follow us on Linkedin and let us all cry out “fire for effect” together for public and private agencies to follow the evidence. Despite my 13-plus year career in the child welfare sector, I was never a clinician. I managed clinicians in an administrative capacity for a large number of those years and as such, a good deal of the information stuck with me. Yet, I could always count on my beloved clinicians to remind me that a fellow clinician, I was not. In truth, the relationship worked great. I leveraged the sum of my administrative ability to put the right clinician in the right place and armed with the right tools to make a difference in the lives of the children we served. Now, I had it better than many of my administrative peers with other organizations because I could truly say I belonged to an organization dedicated to following the evidence of what works. Looking back at my career now, I don’t know how any organization could do anything other than heed the evidence given what is at stake. If I can borrow a few minutes of your time, I’d like to share with you what I believe to be the moral responsibility of child welfare agencies nationwide to follow the evidence, wherever it may lead them. There is No Debate About Evidence Based Practices Now, to be clear there is certainly a good and robust clinical debate about which EBPs were the most effective. Personally, I’d like to weigh in from time to time just to rustle the jimmies of the clinicians that an administrator has an opinion. Yet, for the most part I let clinical services do what they were designed to do. So when I say there is no debate about EBPs, what I really mean is that there is no debate on whether not the evidence should guide our decisions. Relying on good luck, fortune, and whatever clinical approach pops into your head at the moment seems criminally negligent given the young lives that we are asked to steward. On a good day the American foster care system must seem like a cruel game of Frogger to the youth that must endure and if they knew how many of the adults responsible for their care were guessing about their future they’d have another reason, among many, to be angry. The Moral Responsibility to Follow the Evidence If there is not evidence to support your approach or you are not actively gathering the evidence to evaluate your approach, then you don’t belong in the field. I’m amazed at how we take the most vulnerable youth in America and accept the notion that guessing and doing our best is sufficient. NASA doesn’t operate that way, billion dollar multinational corporations don’t operate that way and It confused me as to why some organizations would do anything other than follow the evidence. Keep in mind, this is not a knock on the actual clinicians as they can only be armed with the tools that administrators give them or allow them to use. In a previous life, I was, still am, a United States Marine. When the artillery is attempting to locate and destroy a target, there will be a variety of adjustments called out in between rounds. However, when artillery is locked on target, the call to “fire for effect” is given and all hell reigns down upon that unfortunate location. In the United States of America, when we find evidence for what works to transform the lives of most vulnerable children, there should be a nationwide call to fire for effect. Doing anything else is simply morally irresponsible. I do realize that I get to say that with ease as I’m no longer in that field, but through the power of writing I can at least sound out the call to action. So please subscribe to our blog below or follow us on Linkedin and let us all cry out “fire for effect” together for public and private agencies to follow the evidence. Despite my 13-plus year career in the child welfare sector, I was never a clinician. I managed clinicians in an administrative capacity for a large number of those years and as such, a good deal of the information stuck with me. Yet, I could always count on my beloved clinicians to remind me that a fellow clinician, I was not. In truth, the relationship worked great. I leveraged the sum of my administrative ability to put the right clinician in the right place and armed with the right tools to make a difference in the lives of the children we served. Now, I had it better than many of my administrative peers with other organizations because I could truly say I belonged to an organization dedicated to following the evidence of what works. Looking back at my career now, I don’t know how any organization could do anything other than heed the evidence given what is at stake. If I can borrow a few minutes of your time, I’d like to share with you what I believe to be the moral responsibility of child welfare agencies nationwide to follow the evidence, wherever it may lead them. There is No Debate About Evidence Based Practices Now, to be clear there is certainly a good and robust clinical debate about which EBPs were the most effective. Personally, I’d like to weigh in from time to time just to rustle the jimmies of the clinicians that an administrator has an opinion. Yet, for the most part I let clinical services do what they were designed to do. So when I say there is no debate about EBPs, what I really mean is that there is no debate on whether not the evidence should guide our decisions. Relying on good luck, fortune, and whatever clinical approach pops into your head at the moment seems criminally negligent given the young lives that we are asked to steward. On a good day the American foster care system must seem like a cruel game of Frogger to the youth that must endure and if they knew how many of the adults responsible for their care were guessing about their future they’d have another reason, among many, to be angry. The Moral Responsibility to Follow the Evidence If there is not evidence to support your approach or you are not actively gathering the evidence to evaluate your approach, then you don’t belong in the field. I’m amazed at how we take the most vulnerable youth in America and accept the notion that guessing and doing our best is sufficient. NASA doesn’t operate that way, billion dollar multinational corporations don’t operate that way and It confused me as to why some organizations would do anything other than follow the evidence. Keep in mind, this is not a knock on the actual clinicians as they can only be armed with the tools that administrators give them or allow them to use. In a previous life, I was, still am, a United States Marine. When the artillery is attempting to locate and destroy a target, there will be a variety of adjustments called out in between rounds. However, when artillery is locked on target, the call to “fire for effect” is given and all hell reigns down upon that unfortunate location. In the United States of America, when we find evidence for what works to transform the lives of most vulnerable children, there should be a nationwide call to fire for effect. Doing anything else is simply morally irresponsible. I do realize that I get to say that with ease as I’m no longer in that field, but through the power of writing I can at least sound out the call to action. So please subscribe to our blog below or follow us on Linkedin and let us all cry out “fire for effect” together for public and private agencies to follow the evidence. Despite my 13-plus year career in the child welfare sector, I was never a clinician. I managed clinicians in an administrative capacity for a large number of those years and as such, a good deal of the information stuck with me. Yet, I could always count on my beloved clinicians to remind me that a fellow clinician, I was not. In truth, the relationship worked great. I leveraged the sum of my administrative ability to put the right clinician in the right place and armed with the right tools to make a difference in the lives of the children we served. Now, I had it better than many of my administrative peers with other organizations because I could truly say I belonged to an organization dedicated to following the evidence of what works. Looking back at my career now, I don’t know how any organization could do anything other than heed the evidence given what is at stake. If I can borrow a few minutes of your time, I’d like to share with you what I believe to be the moral responsibility of child welfare agencies nationwide to follow the evidence, wherever it may lead them. There is No Debate About Evidence Based Practices Now, to be clear there is certainly a good and robust clinical debate about which EBPs were the most effective. Personally, I’d like to weigh in from time to time just to rustle the jimmies of the clinicians that an administrator has an opinion. Yet, for the most part I let clinical services do what they were designed to do. So when I say there is no debate about EBPs, what I really mean is that there is no debate on whether not the evidence should guide our decisions. Relying on good luck, fortune, and whatever clinical approach pops into your head at the moment seems criminally negligent given the young lives that we are asked to steward. On a good day the American foster care system must seem like a cruel game of Frogger to the youth that must endure and if they knew how many of the adults responsible for their care were guessing about their future they’d have another reason, among many, to be angry. The Moral Responsibility to Follow the Evidence If there is not evidence to support your approach or you are not actively gathering the evidence to evaluate your approach, then you don’t belong in the field. I’m amazed at how we take the most vulnerable youth in America and accept the notion that guessing and doing our best is sufficient. NASA doesn’t operate that way, billion dollar multinational corporations don’t operate that way and It confused me as to why some organizations would do anything other than follow the evidence. Keep in mind, this is not a knock on the actual clinicians as they can only be armed with the tools that administrators give them or allow them to use. In a previous life, I was, still am, a United States Marine. When the artillery is attempting to locate and destroy a target, there will be a variety of adjustments called out in between rounds. However, when artillery is locked on target, the call to “fire for effect” is given and all hell reigns down upon that unfortunate location. In the United States of America, when we find evidence for what works to transform the lives of most vulnerable children, there should be a nationwide call to fire for effect. Doing anything else is simply morally irresponsible. I do realize that I get to say that with ease as I’m no longer in that field, but through the power of writing I can at least sound out the call to action. So please subscribe to our blog below or follow us on Linkedin and let us all cry out “fire for effect” together for public and private agencies to follow the evidence. Despite my 13-plus year career in the child welfare sector, I was never a clinician. I managed clinicians in an administrative capacity for a large number of those years and as such, a good deal of the information stuck with me. Yet, I could always count on my beloved clinicians to remind me that a fellow clinician, I was not. In truth, the relationship worked great. I leveraged the sum of my administrative ability to put the right clinician in the right place and armed with the right tools to make a difference in the lives of the children we served. Now, I had it better than many of my administrative peers with other organizations because I could truly say I belonged to an organization dedicated to following the evidence of what works. Looking back at my career now, I don’t know how any organization could do anything other than heed the evidence given what is at stake. If I can borrow a few minutes of your time, I’d like to share with you what I believe to be the moral responsibility of child welfare agencies nationwide to follow the evidence, wherever it may lead them. There is No Debate About Evidence Based Practices Now, to be clear there is certainly a good and robust clinical debate about which EBPs were the most effective. Personally, I’d like to weigh in from time to time just to rustle the jimmies of the clinicians that an administrator has an opinion. Yet, for the most part I let clinical services do what they were designed to do. So when I say there is no debate about EBPs, what I really mean is that there is no debate on whether not the evidence should guide our decisions. Relying on good luck, fortune, and whatever clinical approach pops into your head at the moment seems criminally negligent given the young lives that we are asked to steward. On a good day the American foster care system must seem like a cruel game of Frogger to the youth that must endure and if they knew how many of the adults responsible for their care were guessing about their future they’d have another reason, among many, to be angry. The Moral Responsibility to Follow the Evidence If there is not evidence to support your approach or you are not actively gathering the evidence to evaluate your approach, then you don’t belong in the field. I’m amazed at how we take the most vulnerable youth in America and accept the notion that guessing and doing our best is sufficient. NASA doesn’t operate that way, billion dollar multinational corporations don’t operate that way and It confused me as to why some organizations would do anything other than follow the evidence. Keep in mind, this is not a knock on the actual clinicians as they can only be armed with the tools that administrators give them or allow them to use. In a previous life, I was, still am, a United States Marine. When the artillery is attempting to locate and destroy a target, there will be a variety of adjustments called out in between rounds. However, when artillery is locked on target, the call to “fire for effect” is given and all hell reigns down upon that unfortunate location. In the United States of America, when we find evidence for what works to transform the lives of most vulnerable children, there should be a nationwide call to fire for effect. Doing anything else is simply morally irresponsible. I do realize that I get to say that with ease as I’m no longer in that field, but through the power of writing I can at least sound out the call to action. So please subscribe to our blog below or follow us on Linkedin and let us all cry out “fire for effect” together for public and private agencies to follow the evidence.
by Jeff Edwards 13 min read

Why Child Welfare Agencies Should Stop Doing the Best They Can

Certainly, there are success stories in every state agency and private provider that spur every worker or therapist to give it their very best just one more time. As with any industry, child welfare recruits a myriad of employees with varying motivations. Yet, by and large, you find people who genui...
Certainly, there are success stories in every state agency and private provider that spur every worker or therapist to give it their very best just one more time. As with any industry, child welfare recruits a myriad of employees with varying motivations. Yet, by and large, you find people who genuinely care about the welfare of our most vulnerable citizens. The Difference of a Day in Foster Care First and foremost, let’s set the stage for those frontline workers doing the best they can right now. You use every tool at your disposal, care greatly about the kids you serve, and the work follows you home more often than not. A national call for child welfare agencies to stop doing the best they can is also a call to equip you with everything you need to do the job well. The right tool backed by the evidence in your hands is a powerful agent of change in this nation. Agency leaders, policy makers, and decision makers must stop settling for the best that they can do on your behalf. If you were to survey frontline foster care and adoption workers throughout this nation on how many foster homes they needed to care for the number of children in the child welfare system, the answer would be a unanimous “more.” Follow that question by asking when you need them and the answer would likely be a unanimous “yesterday.” In many cases, the deficiency is not in the number of foster homes, but in the quality of foster homes and who they are willing to take. There is rarely a shortage of homes looking to love and serve a newborn infant or neglected toddler. Their angry 15-year-old sibling is a much harder placement. When a sibling group of 5 enters the child welfare system, the priority is to keep them together. The only problem is finding a home that has room for 5 children is difficult. Remarkably, there are homes that are willing to take such difficult and numerous placements, but they seem to always be in the pipeline. They are in the recruiting process or nearly finished with their homestudy and agency workers know with certitude that they will be an amazing parent to these children. Yet, when a child comes into care, they need the right placement to be ready today and not next week when the foster parent trainer returns from their much needed vacation. The Best Means Using the Best Evidence Everyone is doing the best they can to get these families ready in time, but coming up a little slow or a little late in America’s child welfare system can have cascading consequences for children. One wrong placement turns into another, then another, then another, and months or years can go by before siblings are ever reunited under the same roof. Doing the best one can wouldn’t be so tragic if there were not agencies who have followed the evidence, unlocked the funding, and dedicated themselves to performance based measures. There are enough indicators and enough agencies leading the way that following the trail of evidence seems morally responsible given what is at stake. Emanating out of Massachusetts General Hospital, Think:Kids is an organization that takes an evidenced based collaborative problem solving approach to working with challenging kids. While they have undoubtedly done the best they could, they promote the outcomes over the effort. Following the evidence, their approach leads to an 86% average reduction in physical restraints, a 74% reduction in the use of seclusion and 71% fewer self inflicted injuries in youth. Opening an “old school” orphanage in the face of such overwhelming data would almost seem criminal. Yet, we have no doubt that even the founders of orphanages of the past were indeed doing the best they could. Certainly, there are success stories in every state agency and private provider that spur every worker or therapist to give it their very best just one more time. As with any industry, child welfare recruits a myriad of employees with varying motivations. Yet, by and large, you find people who genuinely care about the welfare of our most vulnerable citizens. The Difference of a Day in Foster Care First and foremost, let’s set the stage for those frontline workers doing the best they can right now. You use every tool at your disposal, care greatly about the kids you serve, and the work follows you home more often than not. A national call for child welfare agencies to stop doing the best they can is also a call to equip you with everything you need to do the job well. The right tool backed by the evidence in your hands is a powerful agent of change in this nation. Agency leaders, policy makers, and decision makers must stop settling for the best that they can do on your behalf. If you were to survey frontline foster care and adoption workers throughout this nation on how many foster homes they needed to care for the number of children in the child welfare system, the answer would be a unanimous “more.” Follow that question by asking when you need them and the answer would likely be a unanimous “yesterday.” In many cases, the deficiency is not in the number of foster homes, but in the quality of foster homes and who they are willing to take. There is rarely a shortage of homes looking to love and serve a newborn infant or neglected toddler. Their angry 15-year-old sibling is a much harder placement. When a sibling group of 5 enters the child welfare system, the priority is to keep them together. The only problem is finding a home that has room for 5 children is difficult. Remarkably, there are homes that are willing to take such difficult and numerous placements, but they seem to always be in the pipeline. They are in the recruiting process or nearly finished with their homestudy and agency workers know with certitude that they will be an amazing parent to these children. Yet, when a child comes into care, they need the right placement to be ready today and not next week when the foster parent trainer returns from their much needed vacation. The Best Means Using the Best Evidence Everyone is doing the best they can to get these families ready in time, but coming up a little slow or a little late in America’s child welfare system can have cascading consequences for children. One wrong placement turns into another, then another, then another, and months or years can go by before siblings are ever reunited under the same roof. Doing the best one can wouldn’t be so tragic if there were not agencies who have followed the evidence, unlocked the funding, and dedicated themselves to performance based measures. There are enough indicators and enough agencies leading the way that following the trail of evidence seems morally responsible given what is at stake. Emanating out of Massachusetts General Hospital, Think:Kids is an organization that takes an evidenced based collaborative problem solving approach to working with challenging kids. While they have undoubtedly done the best they could, they promote the outcomes over the effort. Following the evidence, their approach leads to an 86% average reduction in physical restraints, a 74% reduction in the use of seclusion and 71% fewer self inflicted injuries in youth. Opening an “old school” orphanage in the face of such overwhelming data would almost seem criminal. Yet, we have no doubt that even the founders of orphanages of the past were indeed doing the best they could. Certainly, there are success stories in every state agency and private provider that spur every worker or therapist to give it their very best just one more time. As with any industry, child welfare recruits a myriad of employees with varying motivations. Yet, by and large, you find people who genuinely care about the welfare of our most vulnerable citizens. The Difference of a Day in Foster Care First and foremost, let’s set the stage for those frontline workers doing the best they can right now. You use every tool at your disposal, care greatly about the kids you serve, and the work follows you home more often than not. A national call for child welfare agencies to stop doing the best they can is also a call to equip you with everything you need to do the job well. The right tool backed by the evidence in your hands is a powerful agent of change in this nation. Agency leaders, policy makers, and decision makers must stop settling for the best that they can do on your behalf. If you were to survey frontline foster care and adoption workers throughout this nation on how many foster homes they needed to care for the number of children in the child welfare system, the answer would be a unanimous “more.” Follow that question by asking when you need them and the answer would likely be a unanimous “yesterday.” In many cases, the deficiency is not in the number of foster homes, but in the quality of foster homes and who they are willing to take. There is rarely a shortage of homes looking to love and serve a newborn infant or neglected toddler. Their angry 15-year-old sibling is a much harder placement. When a sibling group of 5 enters the child welfare system, the priority is to keep them together. The only problem is finding a home that has room for 5 children is difficult. Remarkably, there are homes that are willing to take such difficult and numerous placements, but they seem to always be in the pipeline. They are in the recruiting process or nearly finished with their homestudy and agency workers know with certitude that they will be an amazing parent to these children. Yet, when a child comes into care, they need the right placement to be ready today and not next week when the foster parent trainer returns from their much needed vacation. The Best Means Using the Best Evidence Everyone is doing the best they can to get these families ready in time, but coming up a little slow or a little late in America’s child welfare system can have cascading consequences for children. One wrong placement turns into another, then another, then another, and months or years can go by before siblings are ever reunited under the same roof. Doing the best one can wouldn’t be so tragic if there were not agencies who have followed the evidence, unlocked the funding, and dedicated themselves to performance based measures. There are enough indicators and enough agencies leading the way that following the trail of evidence seems morally responsible given what is at stake. Emanating out of Massachusetts General Hospital, Think:Kids is an organization that takes an evidenced based collaborative problem solving approach to working with challenging kids. While they have undoubtedly done the best they could, they promote the outcomes over the effort. Following the evidence, their approach leads to an 86% average reduction in physical restraints, a 74% reduction in the use of seclusion and 71% fewer self inflicted injuries in youth. Opening an “old school” orphanage in the face of such overwhelming data would almost seem criminal. Yet, we have no doubt that even the founders of orphanages of the past were indeed doing the best they could. Certainly, there are success stories in every state agency and private provider that spur every worker or therapist to give it their very best just one more time. As with any industry, child welfare recruits a myriad of employees with varying motivations. Yet, by and large, you find people who genuinely care about the welfare of our most vulnerable citizens. The Difference of a Day in Foster Care First and foremost, let’s set the stage for those frontline workers doing the best they can right now. You use every tool at your disposal, care greatly about the kids you serve, and the work follows you home more often than not. A national call for child welfare agencies to stop doing the best they can is also a call to equip you with everything you need to do the job well. The right tool backed by the evidence in your hands is a powerful agent of change in this nation. Agency leaders, policy makers, and decision makers must stop settling for the best that they can do on your behalf. If you were to survey frontline foster care and adoption workers throughout this nation on how many foster homes they needed to care for the number of children in the child welfare system, the answer would be a unanimous “more.” Follow that question by asking when you need them and the answer would likely be a unanimous “yesterday.” In many cases, the deficiency is not in the number of foster homes, but in the quality of foster homes and who they are willing to take. There is rarely a shortage of homes looking to love and serve a newborn infant or neglected toddler. Their angry 15-year-old sibling is a much harder placement. When a sibling group of 5 enters the child welfare system, the priority is to keep them together. The only problem is finding a home that has room for 5 children is difficult. Remarkably, there are homes that are willing to take such difficult and numerous placements, but they seem to always be in the pipeline. They are in the recruiting process or nearly finished with their homestudy and agency workers know with certitude that they will be an amazing parent to these children. Yet, when a child comes into care, they need the right placement to be ready today and not next week when the foster parent trainer returns from their much needed vacation. The Best Means Using the Best Evidence Everyone is doing the best they can to get these families ready in time, but coming up a little slow or a little late in America’s child welfare system can have cascading consequences for children. One wrong placement turns into another, then another, then another, and months or years can go by before siblings are ever reunited under the same roof. Doing the best one can wouldn’t be so tragic if there were not agencies who have followed the evidence, unlocked the funding, and dedicated themselves to performance based measures. There are enough indicators and enough agencies leading the way that following the trail of evidence seems morally responsible given what is at stake. Emanating out of Massachusetts General Hospital, Think:Kids is an organization that takes an evidenced based collaborative problem solving approach to working with challenging kids. While they have undoubtedly done the best they could, they promote the outcomes over the effort. Following the evidence, their approach leads to an 86% average reduction in physical restraints, a 74% reduction in the use of seclusion and 71% fewer self inflicted injuries in youth. Opening an “old school” orphanage in the face of such overwhelming data would almost seem criminal. Yet, we have no doubt that even the founders of orphanages of the past were indeed doing the best they could. Certainly, there are success stories in every state agency and private provider that spur every worker or therapist to give it their very best just one more time. As with any industry, child welfare recruits a myriad of employees with varying motivations. Yet, by and large, you find people who genuinely care about the welfare of our most vulnerable citizens. The Difference of a Day in Foster Care First and foremost, let’s set the stage for those frontline workers doing the best they can right now. You use every tool at your disposal, care greatly about the kids you serve, and the work follows you home more often than not. A national call for child welfare agencies to stop doing the best they can is also a call to equip you with everything you need to do the job well. The right tool backed by the evidence in your hands is a powerful agent of change in this nation. Agency leaders, policy makers, and decision makers must stop settling for the best that they can do on your behalf. If you were to survey frontline foster care and adoption workers throughout this nation on how many foster homes they needed to care for the number of children in the child welfare system, the answer would be a unanimous “more.” Follow that question by asking when you need them and the answer would likely be a unanimous “yesterday.” In many cases, the deficiency is not in the number of foster homes, but in the quality of foster homes and who they are willing to take. There is rarely a shortage of homes looking to love and serve a newborn infant or neglected toddler. Their angry 15-year-old sibling is a much harder placement. When a sibling group of 5 enters the child welfare system, the priority is to keep them together. The only problem is finding a home that has room for 5 children is difficult. Remarkably, there are homes that are willing to take such difficult and numerous placements, but they seem to always be in the pipeline. They are in the recruiting process or nearly finished with their homestudy and agency workers know with certitude that they will be an amazing parent to these children. Yet, when a child comes into care, they need the right placement to be ready today and not next week when the foster parent trainer returns from their much needed vacation. The Best Means Using the Best Evidence Everyone is doing the best they can to get these families ready in time, but coming up a little slow or a little late in America’s child welfare system can have cascading consequences for children. One wrong placement turns into another, then another, then another, and months or years can go by before siblings are ever reunited under the same roof. Doing the best one can wouldn’t be so tragic if there were not agencies who have followed the evidence, unlocked the funding, and dedicated themselves to performance based measures. There are enough indicators and enough agencies leading the way that following the trail of evidence seems morally responsible given what is at stake. Emanating out of Massachusetts General Hospital, Think:Kids is an organization that takes an evidenced based collaborative problem solving approach to working with challenging kids. While they have undoubtedly done the best they could, they promote the outcomes over the effort. Following the evidence, their approach leads to an 86% average reduction in physical restraints, a 74% reduction in the use of seclusion and 71% fewer self inflicted injuries in youth. Opening an “old school” orphanage in the face of such overwhelming data would almost seem criminal. Yet, we have no doubt that even the founders of orphanages of the past were indeed doing the best they could. Certainly, there are success stories in every state agency and private provider that spur every worker or therapist to give it their very best just one more time. As with any industry, child welfare recruits a myriad of employees with varying motivations. Yet, by and large, you find people who genuinely care about the welfare of our most vulnerable citizens. The Difference of a Day in Foster Care First and foremost, let’s set the stage for those frontline workers doing the best they can right now. You use every tool at your disposal, care greatly about the kids you serve, and the work follows you home more often than not. A national call for child welfare agencies to stop doing the best they can is also a call to equip you with everything you need to do the job well. The right tool backed by the evidence in your hands is a powerful agent of change in this nation. Agency leaders, policy makers, and decision makers must stop settling for the best that they can do on your behalf. If you were to survey frontline foster care and adoption workers throughout this nation on how many foster homes they needed to care for the number of children in the child welfare system, the answer would be a unanimous “more.” Follow that question by asking when you need them and the answer would likely be a unanimous “yesterday.” In many cases, the deficiency is not in the number of foster homes, but in the quality of foster homes and who they are willing to take. There is rarely a shortage of homes looking to love and serve a newborn infant or neglected toddler. Their angry 15-year-old sibling is a much harder placement. When a sibling group of 5 enters the child welfare system, the priority is to keep them together. The only problem is finding a home that has room for 5 children is difficult. Remarkably, there are homes that are willing to take such difficult and numerous placements, but they seem to always be in the pipeline. They are in the recruiting process or nearly finished with their homestudy and agency workers know with certitude that they will be an amazing parent to these children. Yet, when a child comes into care, they need the right placement to be ready today and not next week when the foster parent trainer returns from their much needed vacation. The Best Means Using the Best Evidence Everyone is doing the best they can to get these families ready in time, but coming up a little slow or a little late in America’s child welfare system can have cascading consequences for children. One wrong placement turns into another, then another, then another, and months or years can go by before siblings are ever reunited under the same roof. Doing the best one can wouldn’t be so tragic if there were not agencies who have followed the evidence, unlocked the funding, and dedicated themselves to performance based measures. There are enough indicators and enough agencies leading the way that following the trail of evidence seems morally responsible given what is at stake. Emanating out of Massachusetts General Hospital, Think:Kids is an organization that takes an evidenced based collaborative problem solving approach to working with challenging kids. While they have undoubtedly done the best they could, they promote the outcomes over the effort. Following the evidence, their approach leads to an 86% average reduction in physical restraints, a 74% reduction in the use of seclusion and 71% fewer self inflicted injuries in youth. Opening an “old school” orphanage in the face of such overwhelming data would almost seem criminal. Yet, we have no doubt that even the founders of orphanages of the past were indeed doing the best they could. Certainly, there are success stories in every state agency and private provider that spur every worker or therapist to give it their very best just one more time. As with any industry, child welfare recruits a myriad of employees with varying motivations. Yet, by and large, you find people who genuinely care about the welfare of our most vulnerable citizens. The Difference of a Day in Foster Care First and foremost, let’s set the stage for those frontline workers doing the best they can right now. You use every tool at your disposal, care greatly about the kids you serve, and the work follows you home more often than not. A national call for child welfare agencies to stop doing the best they can is also a call to equip you with everything you need to do the job well. The right tool backed by the evidence in your hands is a powerful agent of change in this nation. Agency leaders, policy makers, and decision makers must stop settling for the best that they can do on your behalf. If you were to survey frontline foster care and adoption workers throughout this nation on how many foster homes they needed to care for the number of children in the child welfare system, the answer would be a unanimous “more.” Follow that question by asking when you need them and the answer would likely be a unanimous “yesterday.” In many cases, the deficiency is not in the number of foster homes, but in the quality of foster homes and who they are willing to take. There is rarely a shortage of homes looking to love and serve a newborn infant or neglected toddler. Their angry 15-year-old sibling is a much harder placement. When a sibling group of 5 enters the child welfare system, the priority is to keep them together. The only problem is finding a home that has room for 5 children is difficult. Remarkably, there are homes that are willing to take such difficult and numerous placements, but they seem to always be in the pipeline. They are in the recruiting process or nearly finished with their homestudy and agency workers know with certitude that they will be an amazing parent to these children. Yet, when a child comes into care, they need the right placement to be ready today and not next week when the foster parent trainer returns from their much needed vacation. The Best Means Using the Best Evidence Everyone is doing the best they can to get these families ready in time, but coming up a little slow or a little late in America’s child welfare system can have cascading consequences for children. One wrong placement turns into another, then another, then another, and months or years can go by before siblings are ever reunited under the same roof. Doing the best one can wouldn’t be so tragic if there were not agencies who have followed the evidence, unlocked the funding, and dedicated themselves to performance based measures. There are enough indicators and enough agencies leading the way that following the trail of evidence seems morally responsible given what is at stake. Emanating out of Massachusetts General Hospital, Think:Kids is an organization that takes an evidenced based collaborative problem solving approach to working with challenging kids. While they have undoubtedly done the best they could, they promote the outcomes over the effort. Following the evidence, their approach leads to an 86% average reduction in physical restraints, a 74% reduction in the use of seclusion and 71% fewer self inflicted injuries in youth. Opening an “old school” orphanage in the face of such overwhelming data would almost seem criminal. Yet, we have no doubt that even the founders of orphanages of the past were indeed doing the best they could. Certainly, there are success stories in every state agency and private provider that spur every worker or therapist to give it their very best just one more time. As with any industry, child welfare recruits a myriad of employees with varying motivations. Yet, by and large, you find people who genuinely care about the welfare of our most vulnerable citizens. The Difference of a Day in Foster Care First and foremost, let’s set the stage for those frontline workers doing the best they can right now. You use every tool at your disposal, care greatly about the kids you serve, and the work follows you home more often than not. A national call for child welfare agencies to stop doing the best they can is also a call to equip you with everything you need to do the job well. The right tool backed by the evidence in your hands is a powerful agent of change in this nation. Agency leaders, policy makers, and decision makers must stop settling for the best that they can do on your behalf. If you were to survey frontline foster care and adoption workers throughout this nation on how many foster homes they needed to care for the number of children in the child welfare system, the answer would be a unanimous “more.” Follow that question by asking when you need them and the answer would likely be a unanimous “yesterday.” In many cases, the deficiency is not in the number of foster homes, but in the quality of foster homes and who they are willing to take. There is rarely a shortage of homes looking to love and serve a newborn infant or neglected toddler. Their angry 15-year-old sibling is a much harder placement. When a sibling group of 5 enters the child welfare system, the priority is to keep them together. The only problem is finding a home that has room for 5 children is difficult. Remarkably, there are homes that are willing to take such difficult and numerous placements, but they seem to always be in the pipeline. They are in the recruiting process or nearly finished with their homestudy and agency workers know with certitude that they will be an amazing parent to these children. Yet, when a child comes into care, they need the right placement to be ready today and not next week when the foster parent trainer returns from their much needed vacation. The Best Means Using the Best Evidence Everyone is doing the best they can to get these families ready in time, but coming up a little slow or a little late in America’s child welfare system can have cascading consequences for children. One wrong placement turns into another, then another, then another, and months or years can go by before siblings are ever reunited under the same roof. Doing the best one can wouldn’t be so tragic if there were not agencies who have followed the evidence, unlocked the funding, and dedicated themselves to performance based measures. There are enough indicators and enough agencies leading the way that following the trail of evidence seems morally responsible given what is at stake. Emanating out of Massachusetts General Hospital, Think:Kids is an organization that takes an evidenced based collaborative problem solving approach to working with challenging kids. While they have undoubtedly done the best they could, they promote the outcomes over the effort. Following the evidence, their approach leads to an 86% average reduction in physical restraints, a 74% reduction in the use of seclusion and 71% fewer self inflicted injuries in youth. Opening an “old school” orphanage in the face of such overwhelming data would almost seem criminal. Yet, we have no doubt that even the founders of orphanages of the past were indeed doing the best they could. Certainly, there are success stories in every state agency and private provider that spur every worker or therapist to give it their very best just one more time. As with any industry, child welfare recruits a myriad of employees with varying motivations. Yet, by and large, you find people who genuinely care about the welfare of our most vulnerable citizens. The Difference of a Day in Foster Care First and foremost, let’s set the stage for those frontline workers doing the best they can right now. You use every tool at your disposal, care greatly about the kids you serve, and the work follows you home more often than not. A national call for child welfare agencies to stop doing the best they can is also a call to equip you with everything you need to do the job well. The right tool backed by the evidence in your hands is a powerful agent of change in this nation. Agency leaders, policy makers, and decision makers must stop settling for the best that they can do on your behalf. If you were to survey frontline foster care and adoption workers throughout this nation on how many foster homes they needed to care for the number of children in the child welfare system, the answer would be a unanimous “more.” Follow that question by asking when you need them and the answer would likely be a unanimous “yesterday.” In many cases, the deficiency is not in the number of foster homes, but in the quality of foster homes and who they are willing to take. There is rarely a shortage of homes looking to love and serve a newborn infant or neglected toddler. Their angry 15-year-old sibling is a much harder placement. When a sibling group of 5 enters the child welfare system, the priority is to keep them together. The only problem is finding a home that has room for 5 children is difficult. Remarkably, there are homes that are willing to take such difficult and numerous placements, but they seem to always be in the pipeline. They are in the recruiting process or nearly finished with their homestudy and agency workers know with certitude that they will be an amazing parent to these children. Yet, when a child comes into care, they need the right placement to be ready today and not next week when the foster parent trainer returns from their much needed vacation. The Best Means Using the Best Evidence Everyone is doing the best they can to get these families ready in time, but coming up a little slow or a little late in America’s child welfare system can have cascading consequences for children. One wrong placement turns into another, then another, then another, and months or years can go by before siblings are ever reunited under the same roof. Doing the best one can wouldn’t be so tragic if there were not agencies who have followed the evidence, unlocked the funding, and dedicated themselves to performance based measures. There are enough indicators and enough agencies leading the way that following the trail of evidence seems morally responsible given what is at stake. Emanating out of Massachusetts General Hospital, Think:Kids is an organization that takes an evidenced based collaborative problem solving approach to working with challenging kids. While they have undoubtedly done the best they could, they promote the outcomes over the effort. Following the evidence, their approach leads to an 86% average reduction in physical restraints, a 74% reduction in the use of seclusion and 71% fewer self inflicted injuries in youth. Opening an “old school” orphanage in the face of such overwhelming data would almost seem criminal. Yet, we have no doubt that even the founders of orphanages of the past were indeed doing the best they could. Certainly, there are success stories in every state agency and private provider that spur every worker or therapist to give it their very best just one more time. As with any industry, child welfare recruits a myriad of employees with varying motivations. Yet, by and large, you find people who genuinely care about the welfare of our most vulnerable citizens. The Difference of a Day in Foster Care First and foremost, let’s set the stage for those frontline workers doing the best they can right now. You use every tool at your disposal, care greatly about the kids you serve, and the work follows you home more often than not. A national call for child welfare agencies to stop doing the best they can is also a call to equip you with everything you need to do the job well. The right tool backed by the evidence in your hands is a powerful agent of change in this nation. Agency leaders, policy makers, and decision makers must stop settling for the best that they can do on your behalf. If you were to survey frontline foster care and adoption workers throughout this nation on how many foster homes they needed to care for the number of children in the child welfare system, the answer would be a unanimous “more.” Follow that question by asking when you need them and the answer would likely be a unanimous “yesterday.” In many cases, the deficiency is not in the number of foster homes, but in the quality of foster homes and who they are willing to take. There is rarely a shortage of homes looking to love and serve a newborn infant or neglected toddler. Their angry 15-year-old sibling is a much harder placement. When a sibling group of 5 enters the child welfare system, the priority is to keep them together. The only problem is finding a home that has room for 5 children is difficult. Remarkably, there are homes that are willing to take such difficult and numerous placements, but they seem to always be in the pipeline. They are in the recruiting process or nearly finished with their homestudy and agency workers know with certitude that they will be an amazing parent to these children. Yet, when a child comes into care, they need the right placement to be ready today and not next week when the foster parent trainer returns from their much needed vacation. The Best Means Using the Best Evidence Everyone is doing the best they can to get these families ready in time, but coming up a little slow or a little late in America’s child welfare system can have cascading consequences for children. One wrong placement turns into another, then another, then another, and months or years can go by before siblings are ever reunited under the same roof. Doing the best one can wouldn’t be so tragic if there were not agencies who have followed the evidence, unlocked the funding, and dedicated themselves to performance based measures. There are enough indicators and enough agencies leading the way that following the trail of evidence seems morally responsible given what is at stake. Emanating out of Massachusetts General Hospital, Think:Kids is an organization that takes an evidenced based collaborative problem solving approach to working with challenging kids. While they have undoubtedly done the best they could, they promote the outcomes over the effort. Following the evidence, their approach leads to an 86% average reduction in physical restraints, a 74% reduction in the use of seclusion and 71% fewer self inflicted injuries in youth. Opening an “old school” orphanage in the face of such overwhelming data would almost seem criminal. Yet, we have no doubt that even the founders of orphanages of the past were indeed doing the best they could.
by Jeff Edwards 13 min read

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