FIJ Quarterly - Summer 2022 Edition

4. What’s one thing stakeholders would change about the org? (Especially in the context of DEI and something that could have a ripple effect) 5. What would success look like in DEI work in the next couple years? How could it miss the mark? Are there any ways to mitigate for that now? 6. Are there voices that stakeholders wish were in DEI conversations across CHSW but aren’t? Have stakeholders indicated that and what has the result been for them? While the assessment identified areas of strength, especially regarding the willingness to develop a new DEI plan, this sobering assessment also identified areas of significant weaknesses and areas for improvement. This included an inadequate organizational response to the murder of George Floyd; a lack of clear goals and accountability for DEI; a lack of inclusivity of non-dominant groups at all levels of CHSW including the board; various perceptions of bias, and a lack of participatory decision-making especially by senior leadership. The results of the assessment were shared with staff and the board in November 2020, and this assessment has been used as the foundational tool for CHSW’s current DEI work at both the staff and board levels. This work has been slow, and painful at times, but the agency is moving ahead with this transformational effort. A Turning Point As CHSW stands at a turning point, we must arrive that getting resources to families and keeping them together must be paramount. There has been an upward momentum toward attempting to change policy and keep families together in recent years. We see this in the recently passed Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA). And while we and others applaud this effort, it unfortunately falls short of providing the resources and equitable considerations necessary to keep families together. Research shows valuable insight into those most likely to enter child welfare—low- income families, most falling below the poverty line. The child welfare system is structured to remove children from their homes, place

these children with strangers, and provide these homes with the resources to care for other people’s children. This current funding and structure show a lack of understanding of the needs of children and families and an unwillingness to invest in children within their family constellation. This is unacceptable. Recently, CHSW has embraced a calling to revolutionize how the child welfare system interacts with children and families, explicitly focusing on dismantling the harms of systemic racism and issues related to poverty. Central to these transformative changes are solutions developed, led, and driven by local provider networks, communities, and individuals and families with lived experience of the child welfare system. Those with lived experience in the child welfare system hold considerable knowledge about the support they need to succeed. They also have intimate knowledge about the systems, policies, and structures that have not been helpful to families like theirs. Incorporating their knowledge and expertise, along with community members who work directly with families, is essential to shifting the conversation from family separation to family preservation. From listening to communities and families, CHSW is taking a three-pronged approach to address these inequities and reduce the number of children entering the child welfare systems: 1. Building a statewide network of family resource centers to provide additional supports of high quality to families. 2. Advancing public policies that reduce rates of family separation and strengthen families, especially by promoting economic mobility. 3. Shift child welfare and other public funding streams to keeping families together. The Power of Family Resource Centers CHSW has been operating family resource centers since the early 1990s and currently has eight centers around the state in urban, suburban, and rural communities. Universally,

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