FIJ Quarterly - Summer 2022 Edition

that combine private philanthropic and public dollars such as child welfare, Medicaid, Family First Prevention Services Act funding, and other federal, state, and local sources. This funding strategy should also be used to leverage the development of new prevention services and approaches that are informed by local community members and located within and delivered by local public agencies, community- based organizations, or some combination. Until these fundamental systemic challenges are truly changed and public funding shifts upstream, states will continue to see incremental improvements at best, despite considerable efforts that have been undertaken. Sector improvements have been well-intentioned and signify progress but consistently fall short of the genuinely transformative changes that children, youth, and families demand and deserve. Conclusion In conclusion, systemic reform requires rejecting both the idea that parents always need to be separated from their children so that children are safe and that providing resources outside the family constellation is money well spent. At the same time, research is invaluable and gives us evidence of the harms and trauma of family separation. Our most compelling evidence is our broad human experiences of loving someone. Love is universal, and it impacts us deeply. This should help us understand the devastation that occurs to parents, children, and siblings and should generate urgency to correct the harmful practice that being removed from loved ones is the right action. Research shows it’s a shattering and traumatic event with lifelong consequences. Trauma has an exorbitant cost throughout a lifetime, and most children long to be with their families under healthy conditions. And although bureaucracies over time have proven challenging, slow, and at some points unwilling, we as people do not have to settle for this as our destiny. We know family is foundational. These systems have been built over a long period and given enough time. It has become an institution so ingrained in our society that it is almost impossible to question the system and change it. We seek the change that the family unit is recognized, vital, and

valued. And our intentions, resources, time, and investments should demonstrate the need for us as a nation to view this shift as central to our pursuits to reimagine child welfare. Whether you are someone who comes to this work through “lived experience” like Shrounda or as a “professional” like Dave, the truth is that all of us bring our lived experience to this field in whatever role we play. This lived experience shapes how we “show up” for this work and what lens we use to see ourselves and others. The work we are doing at the CHSW reminds us daily how imperfect we are as individuals and as an institution. We are finding that imperfection to be liberating. If we, as individuals and the CHSW, can evolve and change, institutions can do so as well, and we are committed to helping them achieve this goal. As seen in other countries, coming together, sharing our truths, and reconciling our differences are possible, but it isn’t fast. For any journey, the most important thing to do is to begin. At the CHSW, we started over 100 years ago, and we’re only in the first stretch. _________________________ Dave Newell is the President and CEO at the Children’s Home Society of Washington. Shrounda Selivanoff, BAS, is an impacted child welfare parent and Director of Public Policy at the Children’s Home Society of Washington.

78 | FIJ Quarterly | Summer 2022

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