"Identify your problems, but give your power and energy to solutions." -Tony Robbins
The past two years have thrown all of us some crazy obstacles. Keeping children as close to home as possible always seems like an uphill battle, but one that Foster Community continues to climb with the help of so many others.
It’s easy for us to focus on the problems that we keep fighting against in child welfare. Disproportionality, racial inequities, human trafficking... the list goes on. What we consistently ask ourselves is what purpose does focusing on the problems serve? While it seems like we are up against many mountains, especially the one called CWOP (Children Without Placement) we know we just need a little bit of faith to make them start moving. We recognize that the system can be flawed, resulting in children unfortunately being caught up in spaces like CPS offices that are not meant for them. What we conclude is that we want to be a part of a greater change. We want to focus on looking forward to solutions.
While we don’t have all of the answers, we do know that many of the Foster Community partners and stakeholders within the Child Welfare space want to help. It doesn’t stop there. We have great families that say yes to being foster parents. They say yes to the changes, yes to the challenges, yes to the reunification, yes to the trainings. We have child placing agencies that work tirelessly to provide support to families, work through licensing standards and fight for the best outcomes for children. We have grandparents that take in multiple grandchildren at one time with no advanced warning and raise them into adulthood. They are often overlooked and underappreciated, but they keep striving. We have organizations like Partnerships for Children who continue to fill in the gaps for basic needs and meet children in care at every stage, whether a child is sleeping in a CPS office or being reunited with their parents. We have stakeholders that are constantly creating new avenues to support and impact families at all levels.
When we look at everything from a holistic and strengths-based perspective, we know that one of the best ways to move forward is to keep up with collaboration. Collaboration continues to be key to building solution focused change. This why we work with Travis County HHS, Safelanding and child placing agencies to find new ways to support children without placement. This is why Foster Community, the Heart Gallery, Fostering Hope and the Adoption Collaborative are working together to campaign for more babysitters and care givers for foster and kinship families. This is why the Child Welfare Race Equity Committee is continuously implementing new ways to change the way people see families of color so we can reduce the disproportionate numbers we see in child welfare.
We can have conversations about the problems we see in child welfare all day long, but more than just conversations are needed. What we are grateful for is the ability to understand the needs of the communities we serve, get their input and work to create positive change altogether. It is hard work and it will take time, but our energy is focused on the solution: supporting communities and strengthening families. Together, we can do this.