State Team Planning Meeting Archive Webinar


TIM: Hello, everyone,
thank you for joining us. Today we’re going to have
the opportunity to hear from a number of states
about what’s possible in regard to moving
towards prevention. Before we jump
into that, though, there are a couple
of housekeeping matters that we want to cover. If we could get the next slide? We’ll get
straight to housekeeping. So as was mentioned, the
webinar is being recorded. There are a handful of resources
that are available to you in the handouts download box, typically to the
right of your screen. If there are any of
those that you would like, you can simply click
on them and download. There’s a one-page summary from
each of our presenters today to help you kind of
solidify those tips and take notes about
where they’re headed. Participants may ask
questions or make comments using the chat pod only. We have a large number
of people on the line today and it would not be feasible for us to have people
ask questions via voice. So, we ask that you
just type those in. It also gives us the opportunity
to collect up those questions and then respond
back in such a way that everyone
will be able to see what the questions
and answers are as well. Your phone line is muted, that should really
reduce feedback and room noise. Again, as I mentioned, we have a large number
of phone lines out today, so keeping control
over that is helpful. In just a few
minutes I’m going to ask you to actually turn your
audio on your computer. We’re going to be watching
a video from Dr. Milner and the best way to hear
that is through your computer. It will not be available if
you are only on the phone line. It will be silenced
for you for a few minutes, about 10 to 15 minutes. But you will be able to
hear it through the computer. If there’s anything at all
that you have questions about or you have any
technical difficulties, again, I would encourage you to
type those into the chat box and we’ll do our best to help
you as quickly as possible. Next slide? All right, so some of
you are asking kind of where are we going from
here, what is this all about? And as I
mentioned in the beginning, the Children’s Bureau is really
inviting states to think about the child family services
plan in a different light. We’re inviting states really
to think about how to step out and do things a
little bit differently and chart a different
course through territory that you may or may
not be familiar with. So, starting back in last
July, there was a meeting, many of you were present. You may recall, you may have heard about in D.C.
where state teams came together to begin to think more
broadly about what’s possible in the child welfare arena, and particularly about
what it might look like if we all shifted our focus
towards the idea of prevention. That’s being bridged with
this meeting, this webinar. And ultimately, we’ll come
together again in April in D.C. where the Children’s Bureau, working with State Capacity
Building Collaborative, is working to help you
understand and think through how it is that you
might do things differently. What does that really mean to
have the opportunity to do that? Explicitly, Commissioner Milner
and the Children’s Bureau are calling on states, tribes and territories to work
together as a broader system. To look beyond just the
child protection agency and thinking about
what is child welfare, what does child
protection really mean? It’s an opportunity to
develop a joint vision for how you want
your child and families to experience the
system in your jurisdiction. It’s an opportunity to think
about what are the outcomes that you really want to achieve
as a whole for your community. The Children’s
Bureau has invited everyone to think about that child
and family services process as a roadmap for that, a way
to bring your vision to life. Oftentimes we get
stuck in this idea that things like the
Child and Family Service Plan is something that we have to do
extra, or something additional. But the reality
of the matter is, is that the Children’s Bureau
is very open at this point to that being a
roadmap for the vision that you want for
the broader system. So, it’s not a separate thing, but rather a
highly integrated way to bring your
state’s vision to life for how you want to
serve children and families. The Children’s Bureau is
calling on all jurisdictions to design with key
partners in this regard, and that includes the
legal and judicial community, prevention partners,
health partners, community partners
and, most importantly, the voices of parents and
youth with lived experience. Because they are experienced, they are the people
who can best inform what it’s like to
travel this journey. You’re going to hear
today from a couple of examples of how states and a
county have leapt into action since that meeting back in July. You’re going to hear from people
who are at different points in drawing their
map through this land. You’re going to hear from
Judge Swope in West Virginia who’s literally started writing
his map on the back of a page during the conference. You’re going to hear
from folks from Delaware who’ve begun to really
kind of lay out the land and get to the point
where they have a clear map and it’s a matter
of formalizing things. And then you’re
going to hear from the Jefferson Prosperity
Partners where really, they’re at the edge of
the map seeking new ways. Many of you, I think, will
listen to that and think wow, how do we get there, how do we
get out to that edge as well? So, there should be
something for everyone no matter where your
state is at in this journey. And most of all,
you’re going to get to hear just a variety of perspectives,
a variety of ways, a variety of visions, and
how that might move forward. When we’re done
hearing those three examples, we’ll hear some
closing comments. Commissioner Milner and
David Culley are watching along with all of you here
actually up in my home state, up in Washington State,
with a group of folks here. And I think at that point, we’re actually just
kind of ready to move on. So, I would ask
for our next slide. And so, this is
the opportunity here to be able to hear the
video you’re going to have to, rather than listen on your phone you’re going to have to
listen on your computer. So, I’m going to give
just a minute for everyone if your computer was
on mute to unmute now and turn up the volume. For those of you who
were just on the phone line, you’re going to have
a little bit of silence for a few minutes here,
and then we’ll jump back in. So, if we could roll our video
of Commissioner Milner now. COMMISSIONER MILNER: Hello
and welcome to this webinar which, as you
know, is a follow-up to the state team
planning meeting work that we began here in
Washington D.C. last July. Over the past
approximately year and a half, you’ve heard a lot of talk
from the Children’s Bureau about the need to
reorient, reimagine, our child welfare system to one that focuses much
more squarely on building and strengthening the protective
capacities of parents to care for their children
in safe and healthy ways. You’ve heard us talk an
awful lot about the need to focus much more squarely on
the prevention of child abuse and neglect before it occurs. While I think that
most of us would agree that this is a
noble and worthy goal for our child welfare system, I think that we still
struggle in many ways with conceptualizing what that
kind of a child welfare system would actually look like on the
ground in our day-to-day work. It’s not unusual for state
and local child welfare leaders to say things to
me to the effect of how do you expect me to do
all that we’re doing already with the increased demands
on our child welfare system and do
prevention on top of that? My response to
that is very simple. I don’t expect
you to do prevention on top of what
you’re already doing. I expect us to find a
way to do prevention instead of much of the
work that we already do. Recognizing that there will always be
a need for foster care, for child protection services, but also recognizing that with
effective prevention programs in our child welfare system, we have an excellent opportunity to reduce many of the
crises that keep us busy in our day-to-day work so often. I’d like to share with
you, if you would, an example of a program that
I recently was able to visit that I think is an example
of what primary prevention can look like in our
child welfare system. I recently made a trip
down to South Carolina and I found myself in
a small conference room of a community-based prevention and family support services
center that was largely funded, is largely funded, by the
State’s Children Trust Fund. I’d like for you to
imagine with me for a minute some of the faces of the people
who were in that room with me, particularly five young
mothers in their late teens, early 20s I would
guess, and a grandmother. Each of them struggling with
their own individual challenges and difficulties, but
united by one challenge, the challenge of raising
babies virtually on their own. They were separated by geography from important family
supports and extended family that otherwise might
have been able to help them with their
childcare responsibilities. The young mothers
were struggling to continue their education in the face of
raising an infant. And they admitted
to not being prepared for the challenges
of raising an infant when they first found
out that they were pregnant. Five of the six mothers in
the room were raising infants that the research tells
us are the most vulnerable to child abuse and
neglect in our country, the most vulnerable to death
by child abuse and neglect. Add to that tremendous
risk factor other factors present in the lives of these
mothers and these children – social isolation, the youth and
inexperience of the mothers, lack of knowledge about child
rearing and child development. We know that many
of these risk factors can lead to very detrimental
consequences for children. Yet, in spite of those
risk factors, not one of the
mothers or their children had any formal contact
with the child welfare agency. Which begs the question, why? With all those
risk factors present, why would they not be
involved with child protection? The answer to me was
really quite simple, because each of them
was connected from the time they brought their
infants home from the hospital and before there was
time for anything bad to happen to those beautiful,
thriving babies, they were connected
to one of at least three home visiting
programs that were operated, that are operated by this community-based
family support services. They had access to
medical care for themselves and for their babies. But most importantly, they had someone to
turn to in times of need. They agreed to the help,
the services were voluntary and a report to child
protection was not necessary in order to
mobilize those services. Instead of being able to sit
there in that conference room and have a
beautiful, responsive, inquisitive little girl
whose name was Lindsay, by the way, wrap her
fingers around my finger and smile at me so
easily and so freely the way we want
to see babies smile when they’re
thriving and healthy. Instead of being able
to watch their mothers smile back at them,
to love on them, to give them
nurture and support, I could just as easily have
been in that conference room or another conference room with overwhelmed
traumatized mothers and non-responsive infants who were not
having their needs met. The latter has been my
more typical experience in the child welfare system. We could easily have
been in a room with parents who were deeply wounded over their
experiences in child welfare. I’ve met with those
parents all across the country, in your states. I’ve sat in rooms
and I’ve listened and watched them
break down in tears talking about the heartache
that they’ve experienced over not being able to
care for their children and to parent them in safe ways. I’ve heard them talk
about the devastation, the incredible loss that they’ve
experienced in child welfare. I’ve heard them
talk about the services that might have been helpful
to them had they been offered and had they been available
instead of the stories I heard in South Carolina
about the effectiveness of the services that
were offered to them even before they asked for them. In South Carolina, every one
of the women in that room said that the difference for them
in having their experience, as opposed to the
more common experience that I’m accustomed to, was the fact that
they were connected. That they had
that source of support that they could draw
on in times of need. I believe that we could
help young unprepared mothers to have that same
experience most of the time. Yet our typical response is
not to do that, but to wait. We wait until a report
comes into the hotline. We wait until a child has
been abused or neglected. We wait until a
child is at imminent risk of entering foster care. We wait until
parents are so overwhelmed and experiencing
such levels of difficulty that simple
family support services may no longer be effective in helping them to parent
their children in safe ways. The point of primary prevention is the amazing opportunity
that we have to put services into place before families
reach the point of crisis, before children are
harmed by otherwise loving, but simply overwhelmed
and unprepared parents. The failure to put
those services into place, in my opinion, leads to the fact that up
to 60 percent of the children in our child welfare system,
in our foster care system, are there due to neglect, neglect that is
often exacerbated by the effects of poverty, yet we continue to
allow that to occur over and over and over again. Can any of us believe
that that’s an acceptable way to have child
welfare in our country, that it is just,
that it is even moral? I hope that by now, and I trust,
that we can agree that it’s not. Yet it is what we do, and we pay for it
with the price of trauma that repeats itself
over and over again, over generations
and over lifetimes. Over the past
nearly two years now, I’ve traveled from
coast to coast multiple times looking at the programs
that are making a difference in the lives of
children and families. I’ve talked to those children, I’ve talked to
those families trying to understand how we can support the strengthening of
parental protective capacities. My take-away from those visits is that this is
absolutely doable. It’s something we can do
as a child welfare system. But in order to do that,
it has to be your vision, not my vision, your mission,
your commitment, your charge. In the Children’s Bureau, we recently released an
information memorandum, IM #18-05 that
discusses the need to refocus our
child welfare system to one that
emphasizes primary prevention of child abuse and neglect. And we described many
of the stellar examples of programs that
are doing just that in their
communities across the country. Over the next year or two, I would love nothing better
than for the Children’s Bureau to be able to update
that information memorandum with a much longer
list of stellar examples from each of your states and I believe that we have
the opportunity to do that. My charge to you at this
point is to take advantage of the tremendous
opportunity we have right now to reimagine what child welfare
can be in the United States. To work together as a team, not just the child
protection agency, but the agencies
public, private, caretakers, the legal judicial system,
the service provider community, to create the kind of family
support system in child welfare that would allow so
many more parents and so many more
children to have the experience that I was fortunate
enough to be able to witness in South Carolina. I urge you not to let
this opportunity slip away, and I thank you very much for
coming back for this webinar and we’ll look forward to seeing
all of you again in April when we reconvene the State Team
Planning meetings. Thank you. TIM: So, we’ll get to hear more from Commissioner
Milner at the end here, along with some of our
colleagues in Washington State. I just want to add, for me, I’m actually a fan
of travel memoirs. I love to read
about people’s travels. And one of the things
that I think this webinar kind of reminds
me of is just that. It’s an opportunity to
travel around the country from the seat of your own home, but in a very special way, to hear a very
special kind of travel to see what people are
doing around the country and also to see, as I mentioned, in various stages and points. So, our first speaker here
is, you might be wondering, some of you might be wondering and I don’t
understand this map thing, I don’t have a map yet, what do I do if I
don’t have a map? Or, what happens after I first
start sketching out that map, then what happens,
what happens next? And our first
presenter, I think, can really give
you a great story and a great feel for
what that might look like. Honorable Derek C. Swope, he’s a circuit judge in
the 9th Judicial Circuit in Mercer County, West Virginia. And I know that you’re
going to love this presentation because I’ve enjoyed
hearing it a couple of times as we were preparing for this. So, welcome Judge Swope. JUDGE SWOPE: Thank you.
Good afternoon, everyone. I’d like to thank Dr.
Milner and Dave and Kelly for the opportunity to
present to you all today. I’d also like to
thank all of those who helped prepare for
this very important conference. I’m very humbled to
speak with you today and just a little
bit about my background, because it will help determine how I got to
this mapping process. I practiced law almost 41 years, 22 and a half years
as a private attorney and 18 plus years
as a circuit judge which is a general
jurisdiction judgeship. Early in my career, I was a part-time
assistant prosecuting attorney and among my duties was to cover what’s now called
abuse and neglect and it took one Friday
morning a month to do that. After that stint, I focused on civil litigation
in my private practice. When I became a circuit
judge on January 1st, 2001, a whole new world had emerged. We had an
exploding criminal docket, an exploding abuse
and neglect docket. They grew hand in hand. Our drug
epidemic was taking off. The substances of
choice had gone from alcohol to Tylox to
opiates during my career. This, combined with
the economic downturn, put us even deeper in
the hole for our families. On the criminal side, locking up people for
addiction just wasn’t working. So, we set up
community corrections in 2003 and an adult drug court in 2006. In those processes, we developed
a network of partnerships to help us in these endeavors. I had a lot to learn
about abuse and neglect. It took increasing
amounts of my time and it so increased our docket that we added another
judge to our circuit. After a few years I
was asked to become a member of our
court improvement board, and I willingly did so. My subcommittees worked on
rule and statutory changes, uniform case plans, data collection and standardized
orders, among many things. I also served as
CFSR reviewer in 2008. In early 2017, I was honored to be
named CIP Chairman by the West Virginia
Supreme Court of Appeals and I had attended the first
summer state planning meeting in Washington that summer. In early 2018, the
world as we know changed with the passage
of Family First. And I went to the July
2018 conference in Washington and heard about Family First
in depth for the first time. In 41 years, I’ve seen the
wheel reinvented many times and it still appears in
the end, to work the same way. So, as I heard the
presentations at the beginning, I was wondering if it
would be more of the same. As usually happens
when the charts go up, West Virginia is
always near the top in the number of
children in foster care. This time would be no different. We have struggled with
how to break this cycle during my entire career. Now comes the
climax to the story. I was born in
Baltimore, Maryland and raised in
Howard County, Maryland which is a neighbor to
one of the first presenters that I heard,
Montgomery County, Maryland. When I heard that presentation, because it was a
county I was familiar with, it truly sparked my attention. I was sitting up near
the front of the conference and so not only did I
listen to the presentation, but I watched the passion of
the people who had made them and realized that
they were truly committed to what they were talking about. As I listened to them, I was
amazed at what they had done as a county which now
had limited resources and building a truly
prevention-built system that works, rather a true
prevention system that works. I listened then as
folks from Brooklyn, New York and Colorado gave
their presentation. During this time, it’s
no exaggeration to say that the scales
fell from my eyes. These folks had
reached out in the communities and built
coalitions of skilled people from multiple
diverse professions and backgrounds to
create systems that work. It dawned on me that this is how
we built our drug court system, from the ground up
with local resources. I literally
flipped over my agenda and as the speakers presented, I resource
mapped all the partners who helped us
with our drug court. We now have a
truancy diversion program that has vetted more partners – if you could put up the slide,
I’ll show you the evidence, and there it is. There’s my agenda, you can
see I went through everything. And on the right,
I flipped it over and scribbled down
everybody I could think of that had helped us in
these other endeavors and how they could come
to help us in this process. We’ve also added,
there’s a new program here, it has been several years, Safe at Home, which exists
to serve families holistically in the home. Before I left, I don’t
know if you remember this, but I went to Dr. Milner and shook his hand because
he was at the next table. And I told him that I
had a plan in mind, and I would be back with him. As a child, I grew up watching the great
universal horror movies of the ’30s and ’40s. And as I pitched my
idea to different people, I used the example of
the Frankenstein monster, and I think we have
another slide for that. Like Dr. Frankenstein, I would piece together the parts that we needed to
build a prevention network. But unfortunately, Dr. Frankenstein was cursed
because he used the wrong brain. I would use a
different brain this time as we put the pieces together to build a true
prevention service that would work for
our families and children. All the names on the list, with
others yet to be thought of, would help us
build this program. And like Dr. Frankenstein
used electricity, I would use the spark of
Family First to give it, our program, the spark of life. As soon as I got
back, we started working. I learned that there was a Department of
Health and Human Services Community Service Manager in the Eastern
Panhandle of West Virginia who had been basically
doing the same thing for years, doing the
programs that Maryland, New York and
Colorado were doing. So, I reached out to her. She joined us at our
initial team meeting in August and we began to arrange
how we could work together to set up our prevention model. I went to the NAC
Conference in Texas in August and learned additional
things that were truly helpful. I set up my additional
stakeholder’s meeting in mid-November and had
almost 50 representatives from various agency partners,
as well as political officials. Although I liked my
Frankenstein example, I used a different
symbol of my past experience to explain what we needed to do. I spent 30 years in
the United States Army, most of it in the West
Virginia Army National Guard, and I was a tanker. So, I started my presentation with a picture of
a Sherman tank. What does a Sherman tank
have to do with child welfare? What it has to do is this – when the United
States entered World War II, there was a gap in the
production of armored vehicles and there needed to be a process by which tanks
could be built quickly. So, one industry
took a Sherman tank, disassembled it down to
every minute component part, laid it out on
the factory floor. Then it invited representatives
from various companies, large and small,
mom and pop businesses, to inspect that
each piece of the tank to figure out what their company or individual could build
to build the collective tank. And in a short period of time,
every piece was accounted for and the tank production
began in great numbers. So, what I wanted to do
was disassemble the tank the way our forefather did, take it down to its basic
component parts to figure out who among our
partners could do what. We met again in a few
weeks then several of us had the pleasure of attending
a one-day Family First meeting in Charleston supported
by the Casey Foundation and the Children’s Bureau. I met Dr. Milner again there and told him that
we were working away and received his
heartfelt encouragement. His remarks gave
me more inspiration that we were on the right
track and I saw Family First as a means to an end, a prevention program
that would truly work and change the way
we have done business. We recently had
a video conference with our Eastern
Panhandle partners who presented their programs, ten different persons
from different agencies presented to the
programs that they had to the 35 people attending
on our side in my courtroom. Tomorrow we will put
pen to paper at the DHHR. We’ll figure out as a community who can build
what part of our tank. I was asked how one could judge whether our
project was successful. And I see that there
are two very objective and simple ways
to determine this. One, has the number of
children in state custody decreased in my circuit? Two, has the number of contested
abuse and neglect cases filed decreased? A word of caution: I started working
on this in late July and we’re still in the
planning phase in January 2019. Why is it taking so long? The answer isn’t that I
still have a day job as well, along with an active docket, I’m on our state’s
mass litigation panel, chair our CIP, and have other
responsibilities to the court, but I made time to do this. When we started our drug court, a lot of people
showed up for the meetings, but it has taken years
to build a committed team. We can
short-circuit this process because we know who will work and what they will
bring to the table. By Friday afternoon, I hope to have a good idea of who will build what
part of our prevention tank. I really believe that we can
make our prevention model work. Others have done it before
there even was a Family First and I’m thankful
and congratulate them for their efforts. I really believe that
judges are uniquely placed to lead a systemic change that will truly help us
achieve safety, permanence and well-being for our children. I’ve taken the liberty of
sharing a few suggestions for building a prevention model, and I hope that you
will consider them and find them useful. I’ll close with the words of another of my
favorite childhood characters, Dorothy in The Wizard
of Oz, who said it best, “there’s no place like home.” And I think we have Dorothy here
to say, to prove that point – there’s no place like home. Thank you so much for allowing
me to tell you my dream, and how I plan to
make it a reality. And thank you so much for
this opportunity Dr. Milner and David Keller. I truly appreciate it.
Thank you. TIM: Thank you
Judge Swope very much. I appreciate that. And for those of
you who would like, the handout that
Judge Swope referenced is in the handout section box, you can just click
on that and download. Also, if you have questions you can feel free to
type those in the chat and then we’ll do our best
as we can to get back to you on whatever
questions you may have, and that includes
if you have questions directly for Judge Swope. If he can’t answer
them in the chat today, we’ll make sure that we
get them to him directly so that he can connect with you. If we could have
the next slide, please. So, our next group of folks are going to be
joining us from Delaware, and that includes Keith Zirkle who is a Program Support
and Resource Administrator for the Delaware
Division of Family Services, Karen Derasmo who is a Prevent Child
Abuse Delaware representative, and Rachel Neff
from Family Court. And they are unfortunately,
unable to be with us on video, so you won’t be able to see
them while they’re talking. But in some ways, I think that also
helps to make the point that no matter what
resources you have, you can make it work. If you try, you can
make things happen. So, I’m going to invite
them to unmute their lines and join us now. We’ll hear from Keith first,
and then Rachel and Karen. And Keith, are you with us? KEITH: I am, can you hear me?
TIM: Yes, sir, go ahead. KEITH: All right, thanks a lot.
Good afternoon everyone. So, the Delaware team is
going to talk about our past, current and future
collaborative planning efforts and we’re going to share this
presentation as a team as well. So, I have an
opening question for you. So, in your state, what would it look
like if you believed, one, that given the right resources, families can make
sound decisions about their children’s welfare and two, kids should
grow up with their family? So, based on
those two principles, Delaware is looking to use the
Child and Family Service Plan for the next five
years as a launch pad to make some changes in our
emerging child welfare system. So, let me go back a few years
and tell you a little history. Beginning with an Annie E.
Casey Foundation engagement, Family Services
launched 17 initiatives in 2012 to basically strengthen
family engagement practices using evidence-based tools. Realizing the Child Welfare
Agency can’t do the work alone, Delaware does
believe that child welfare belongs to a fairly wide
range of service providers, both in the public
and the private sectors. We believe that strategic
planning follows the same path. So, I want you to
note the penny’s motto. The motto on the
back of a penny, and I just, I’m a fairly old guy and I’m just
learning this like yesterday. So, the motto on the
back of the penny is “E Pluribus Unum”
– out of many, one. And here’s the point. Delaware has a long
history of collaboration, especially for
targeted initiatives, but we have lacked a broad multidisciplinary
comprehensive strategic plan that really covered
front ended prevention all the way through
post-permanency exits from foster care. So, the division we
have right now has evolved over the past five years or so from the Annie E.
Casey Foundation engagement. The system has
shifted in those years from thinking child
safety for at risk children is best assured
through two basic pathways, either agency supervision
or foster care removal. Since then, we’ve come to accept
that there are other paths. That there are alternatives
that are less intrusive, and we have an expanding
use of differential response now that’s been going
on for about four years. Last summer at the initial
planning meeting in D.C., Delaware’s three grantees, community-based
child abuse prevention, court improvement programs
and the child welfare agency, agreed to meet and
try to better coordinate the three federal
plans that we have. So, while the three
plans cover prevention through adoption services, we really lack the coordination
of a single strategic plan. Prior Child and
Family Service plans were basically structured
around federal funding streams and the outcomes and systems
that states are held accountable through the Child and
Family Services reviews. The three leads
for the grants formed a Child and Family Services plan
steering committee in the fall and that steering committee included children’s
mental health, prevention, early
intervention representatives, community service
agencies and of course, the child welfare agency
representatives as well. We began monthly
meetings in December and an early activity was
to form three work groups to organize the data
gathering and assessment phase of our strategic planning. So, the three workgroups were
to gather system data reports and statistics, develop and
conduct stakeholder surveys and conduct
statewide focus groups with a variety of stakeholders. So, we look forward to
developing a living plan with annual
updates and revisions. Organizing around the
Child and Family Services plan is a natural fit for Delaware
to bring about changes. So, I’m going to
turn it over to Rachel to talk about
what’s happening now. RACHEL:
Okay, great, thank you, Keith. So, I think what
I’m tasked with doing is talking a little bit about
what we’re doing now in Delaware in light of the meeting in July. And I think, I don’t want to
go back too far in the past, but one of the things
I want to say is that I think the work that
we’re doing in Delaware has been informed by individuals who are directly impacted
by our child welfare system. So, I think that when we
come together in workgroups or committees to talk about
taking on or addressing issues or trying to find some
solutions to problems, that it’s important
that we’ve gone through kind of an assessment process. And that assessment
process has been informed by talking to our foster parents who are involved in our
dependency and neglect work. Talking with parents who have their
children placed in foster care. Talking with youth
who are currently placed in foster care and who
once experienced foster care. So, I think that that’s been
something that the CIP has done over the last couple of years
and has informed our work. And we’ve also done it
from the practitioner side through our
quality hearing surveys in terms of talking
with parent attorneys, talking with our
deputy attorney general, talking with our judges
and our state agency workers to make sure that
we’re getting feedback about how our process in
the courtroom is working. So, I just wanted to say that. And I hope that in my
brief comments right now, one of the
themes that will emerge is that we’ve been willing
over the last couple of years to really, I think
when we come together with the state agency and other
stakeholders and the court, to engage in problem recognition
or looking at issues, and then also participating
in problem solving. I think those are two
different types of things. So, the forum, though, that we’ve been afforded to
kind of address these issues, since Delaware
went through the CFSR and we were charged with creating our performance
improvement plan in 2016, we really had to
get moving in 2017 on putting our
performance improvement plan, the PIP, into action. And so, the court
obviously partnered in the permanency workgroup
and we co-chaired this, along with a representative
from our state agency. And our workgroup really had to, I mean like any workgroup
first coming together, had to kind of
fumble through what is it that we’re going to
address in this workgroup for the next few years. And you know, some of
our first agenda items, it’s like who needs to
be in the discussion, what are these topics
that we’re going to address? And we did get to a place because we were meeting on
initially a monthly basis, on every other
month basis, of okay, here’s the things
we’re going to take on. And you know, for example, looking at cases that
were out of guidelines in terms of reaching permanency
outcomes for children. Looking at our
data as it related to some of our CPR filings and some of our
family engagement work. Looking at how
we were approaching and utilizing concurrent
planning in our cases. Our workgroup had to
take on specific issues and then as a team,
come back and say okay, where are we at with
these certain areas. And so, I really think that, and I’m so thankful
that I have a great partner at the state agency, Robin Forr,
who has worked on this with me. And you know, we’ve had to
be accountable to our workgroup that comes together, as well as
obviously accountability to the Children’s Bureau and coming in and
sharing where we started and kind of where we’ve been as these several
years have moved on. So that was the forum
that kind of allowed us to take on some projects. And even though our PIP
ends in the spring of 2019, there’s still things that, since we worked
hard to put in place, we’re going to continue to
see through as time goes on. Since July though, I would say, there were four
kind of significant takeaways. Since we were sitting
there with our CB Cap Lead and leadership from the state
agency and judges and CIP, we had to take away
from one of the presenters there that really asked us to
look at some of our short stays in foster care. So, for Delaware,
I think some folks thought well, we don’t, we probably
don’t have many children who are coming in and
staying for 30 or 60 days and then leaving. And so, what we did
when we walked away from that meeting was, we actually did a run of
the children in our state who are impacted by a
short stay in foster care. And thinking
through well, first of all, getting the data, looking at it, going back and talking with
the state agency around it, trying to understand
what were some of the reasons that led to these placements, are there things that
we can think through. And I can say that
when we reconvene in April and actually sooner than that, that’s something that
we have a small group in our state looking at. Another one, we just
had a meeting recently that was convened
by family court. We had leadership
from our state agency and judicial officer involved talking about how do
we prevent children who are active in
delinquency proceedings, preventing them from
coming into custody. That was another area that we thought
needed some strategic focus. It was something that our state looked at about
six or seven years ago and it was important to
revisit it, so we did that. We continued or we
reengaged in a partnership with Casey Family Programs to really look at some of our long-term
stayers in foster care. And again, challenging
ourselves to say well, if there is a child who
is experiencing three years or four years,
that is a long time, and what’s leading to
that and what can we be doing. Are there things
on the front end, family engagement side, that we could be
looking at differently? And finally,
just going back to my initial or opening comment about
being informed by individuals impacted by our
system, you know, when we had done questionnaires
and surveys with parents and we got the feedback, like I’m sure many
other jurisdictions received, that there’s not always a clear
understanding of the process. And they’re not sure what
steps they are taking next, and there can be that confusion. One of the things that we
decided to do in Delaware was ensure that we were
doing some additional training with parent attorneys, as well as looking at how could we perhaps
conduct a pilot project around providing parents more
front-end support and services as soon as they
become active with us. And from a small pilot project
that we just recently discussed, we did find that earlier
support did have an impact on, number one, just them
showing up to their hearings, on receiving more
frequent visitation with their children earlier, completing elements
of their case plans. Again, since this is a pilot and we’re continuing to
follow it and see it through, we’ll see what
ultimately it means for long-term
permanency impacts. But I think
engaging in a pilot program or trying something
new and bringing it back and talking about it with
our CIP steering committee was an important thing to do. And actually,
in talking it through and we just had a
meeting the other week, we said what do we do
with this information, like what does this
mean for our system, what can we learn from it? And our state agency director
had said you know Rachel, I wonder if this is something
that we think moving forward how the Family
First Act can help us in this frontend
prevention piece with parents. And maybe we do need
to think about you now, a variety of activities
that we could be doing in light of some
of the opportunities that are available to us, even before perhaps
parents get into a place, their child is
experiencing foster care. So, I think we
have an opportunity, I think in light of all of the
work that’s happened in Delaware over the last few years in
sustaining some practices. And we’re looking forward
to convening again in April. And I think I’m going to turn
it over now to Karen Derasmo who is going to be
talking a little bit about kind of where we do go
from here in Delaware. KAREN: Thanks, Rachel. Just to touch a little
bit on what Rachel said and to give you an idea
about how inclusive the process of going through our
last [break in audio]. TIM: I’m not sure,
we might have lost Karen there. What I’m going to suggest we do, we’re still
waiting to get Karen back, is I’m going to
suggest that we move on here. You’ve had an
opportunity to kind of hear a couple of
different ways of thinking about mapping ways forward, if we kind of stick
with that theme. Judge Swope told
you a little bit about what it looked like to begin, what it looked like
in the very beginning of mapping out his system. We’ve been hearing here
from Delaware a little bit and unfortunately, we got right to
the point where things were about to get into what
we’re looking at in the future and we lost some audio there. But what I want to give you an
opportunity to hear about now is something that we
think is really exciting, and I know I’ve
heard Commissioner Milner talk about this many time, is the Jeffco
Prosperity Partners. One of the things that
I think is most important about this is
it’s not just a trip in the landscape
of child protection; but it’s almost a
travel through time as well. Jeffco Prosperity Partners, one of the things
you’re going to hear about is that they’re really aiming to have a
multi-generational approach. So not is it just the
scope of the current landscape, the scope of kind of what
prevention might look like now, but it’s actually
reaching into the future and trying to
make an impact there. And you’re going to
hear about that program from Jessica Hanson. She’s with Jefferson
County Human Services and the Director of
Jeffco Prosperity Partners. So, Jessica, welcome aboard. JESSICA: Hello, everybody, thank you so much for the
opportunity to be here today. The Jeffco Prosperity Partners
community started over breakfast with our former executive
director, Lynn Johnson, and our local superintendent. It started having
conversations around what would it look like if
teachers could focus on teaching and human services could assist
with the wraparound services and navigation. But after these
initial conversations, we brought together a
community of stakeholders to talk about what
would it look like if we could do
business differently. Our partners included the
school district, our faith-based
community, non-profits, government and
business partners. We knew we wanted to start
this project in Head Start based on it was one of the first and original
multi-generational programs for parents and children. National data said that children who attend Head Start
fall behind in 3rd grade and we wanted to know why. Every family in
Head Start is assigned a family support
specialist and, in this role, the role really supported
families to make great gains. But what we’ve learned is one
to two years is not enough time to support a family combatting
generational poverty. And simultaneously, we were having
conversations with parents and we are learning
about the transition into the public school system
and how challenging it was. And as children got older
and the curriculum got tougher, parents
oftentimes felt unsupported. So, the real goal of JPP was to
be an extension of Head Start to support parents
to self-sufficiency and youth to diploma and beyond. The development of JPP started through the Head
Start Policy Council. Our executive director
at the time, Lynn Johnson, asked families directly, what would it take to
get you out of poverty? Our role was to listen. And what we found was
the things we believed would help people get
out of poverty oftentimes was not the case. Grandparents
referenced respite care. In order to ensure that
their great-grandchildren stayed out of foster care, they wanted a moment to
be able to go and relax or even just go to church. Parents said reliable vehicle
and many families referenced having better lives
for their children. Then we continue to push our
parents, what do you need, what are your hopes and dreams? And many parents didn’t know
how to answer the question. Most families shared
with us that many workers focused on their
child’s well-being and parents had
rarely taken the time to even consider or think about
their own hopes and dreams. But after these
initial conversations, we asked a few
brave parents to see if they were willing
to walk alongside us as we created a program that
was going to support families on their journey
towards self-sufficiency. JPP has a Family
Advisory Council to assist with the
development of the project. We do not do anything
without our families. We do with, not for. This means that our
families in the project also sit on our hiring
committee for the staff. We asked families,
do you like this person? Many will say yes, and then we say do you want
this person to be your coach? And sometimes they say no. And this part is important
because it’s a key in deciding who will join our team. We have coaches,
not case managers. This is because
families have said I have enough case managers, but I would like
to have a life coach. Wealthy people
have life coaches. JPP uses a multi-generational
holistic approach. We have individuals in
our program ages 0 to 74. We have five core components to
our multi-generational approach. These include education,
employment, health and wellness, economic stability
and social capital. I’m going to take a minute and just go through each of
these and provide some examples. As you can imagine,
all five of these areas are very much linked together, but it’s helpful for us to
be able to section them out. Because when we’re
looking at a holistic person and a healthy and
a thriving person, we feel like these
areas are all critical. Education is a core
piece of our program. Like I said earlier, we are looking at
transitioning families out of generational poverty. This is a longitudinal program. As families opt into our program
at the Head Start level, we are already talking about the importance of school
attendance for their children. We need our children to be
in school so they can learn. Quality education plus
opportunity equals success defined by the
individuals we serve, and we are seeing
that over and over again. Many of our
families have identified that continuing education
and going back to school is a priority and a
hope and a dream. We had one mother who was
currently working three jobs and her goal was to
receive her bachelor’s degree. We supported her on enrollment
and three years later we got to the last
semester of school. It was a degree
in human services, which meant she needed to
have an internship which meant she had to take off work to be
able to do her volunteer hours. As you all know that a single
mother cannot afford to do this. And so, through partnership
within our community, we were able to bring
together her university, her employer, our workforce
center to create a plan so she could continue her job,
as well as receive her hours, get the support she needed
so that she could graduate. Once we figured
out that barrier, we learned that she
had to pass a math class. And this parent said I
cannot pass this math class and we said what do you need? What do you need in order
for you to be successful? We are here to support you. And she said she
needed tutoring. But when you work three jobs,
it’s really hard to fit that, so we scheduled a tutor to come
to her house in the evenings. And so, after a few
weeks, we said how is it going? She said I’m still not passing. So, her tutor went
from coming one day a week to four days a week, which resulted in her graduating
with her bachelor’s degree and receiving a job in the
career field of her dreams. This couldn’t have happened without the
partnership in our community and us listening to our parents. We also focus on employment. And when we talk about
employment in our program, we’re looking at career
exploration and career pathways. We don’t want our parents
surviving on minimum wage jobs. We want our
parents having careers and livable wage
jobs and really moving from surviving to thriving. We had a parent come to us and tell us she wanted
to be a medical assistant. And when we asked her why, she said because she thought
it was a job she could have. We’ve had parents say to
us I want to be a hairdresser because it’s the
only career I’ve seen. So, it’s really important
for us to give parents the opportunity to be exposed to
potential career opportunities. And through these processes
and these deeper conversations, we learned one mom was
only eight months away from a bachelor’s degree. But the idea of
going back to school and finding access
to higher education felt so impossible to her, she didn’t even
want to mention it. We talk a lot about
economic stability. I left that off to say
that mother did end up just getting her
bachelor’s and – her career. We also talk a lot
about economic stability. It doesn’t matter
how much money you have. If you are unaware of
how to budget and what
financial literacy means, it’s really difficult to
survive on a tight budget. We offer a course on finances. We have partners who are banks. We’re working towards finding
ways to offer low interest loans so families can improve
and repair their credit. Educating families on the detrimental
consequences of payday loans. And creating these partnerships within the community that we
know will help our families. One of the things
we talk about a lot is college savings accounts. And sometimes people say how can you expect
someone to save around a college savings account
when we’re barely surviving? But what we know is if families
are saving for college, that means they’re
talking about higher education in their house, which oftentimes changes
the entire conversation. We have kids in our program
who are in 5th and 6th grade talking about the
excitement of college. We have parents who are
returning back to school because their
children are now in college and saying if my daughter
can do it, I can do it. So, it’s such an
exciting part of our project. We focus on health and wellness. This includes
dental exams, physicals. We know healthy
parents have healthy children. We know that trauma unaddressed can cause significant
challenges in the home. One of our mothers
in our project came in and she was very excited because
she wanted to go to college. She had
experienced significant trauma and she told us
I hate therapists and I’ll never go to counseling. And our commitment is to
walk alongside families. So, through this process, we talked with her
over and over again about her hopes and dreams. And what she finally
came to terms with is she said I want to
do better for my kids. I want my kids to have
a safe and healthy life and I want to go back to school. But I know that until I address
my mental health concerns, I’m not going to be
able to reach my goals. And now that parent is currently
receiving intensive therapy with her long-term plans
of going back to school. We know there’s links between
dental care and mental health. It’s important for us to have
these conversations so families, families not only hold
themselves accountable. But through our projects, we talk a lot about a
thing called social capital and that’s where
we’re really a community. JPP is not a program,
it’s a community. And through this process, our families are
supporting each other. We have monthly meetings
where we discuss our challenges and our celebrations. We have small groups
that families let us know what they want to learn about, that talk about home ownership,
healthy boundaries, nutrition. We have families focusing
on supporting other families through difficult times. Poverty can be isolating, and we know that
people thrive in communities. One of the key pieces of
our project that families shared in the
developmental process was, it was as much – it was very
important for our families not only to
receive support from us, but them to be able to
give back to the project and we call that sweat equity. JPP is a community
that works together. We have families
supporting families. We have grandparents who
provide emergency childcare. We have parents who teach
Zumba classes to other parents, teach how to meal
prep on a budget, and provide peer
mentorship to families who share similar experiences. Families know that
being a part of JPP doesn’t only support them, but their commitment to
give back to other families experiencing poverty
through family voice. We need to facilitate
opportunities for policymakers and families to come
together and have discussions around how systems can
support families up front – I’m sorry – so families
can support systems to thrive, rather than being the barrier. JPP has families on the
Medicaid Advisory Board for Colorado, the Child
Support Commission, and they public speak
throughout the country to ensure that family
voice is always at the table. It can be challenging
to develop a program that is family-led. Sometimes the feedback
we receive is hard to hear, but at the end of the day we are committed to creating
a community that is thriving and we cannot do that without listening to
our families we serve. JPP truly believes that system
change starts with families and we believe that
using a holistic approach is the way of
prevention. Thank you. TIM: Great. Thank
you very much, Jessica. I appreciate that for
you laying that out for us. Next slide please. So we’ve had an opportunity
to see what this looks like from a variety
of different stages in the process if you will, all the way from the
beginning of Judge Swope telling you a story
of sitting in July, back in D.C. in
July making notes, to the process that
Delaware is in the middle of in terms of moving
forward and transitioning to formalizing relationships
that have emerged, to the very comprehensive in
fact multi-generational program that you heard about in
Jefferson County, Colorado. And now much like
all good travel stories, at the end there’s
always the reflection, the travel log, if you will, looking back at what happened
and the places that we went. And for that we’re going
to go to Washington State and Commissioner Milner
along with some others live. So, Commissioner Milner. COMMISSIONER MILNER:
Okay. Can you hear us here Tim? TIM: We can. It’s a little soft. COMMISSIONER MILNER: Okay. Well,
first of all let me just say, an incredible
thanks to all of you for putting this
webinar together. And particularly
for our presenters, who have been pretty
brave in coming forward and sharing both their successes and the challenges that
they’re facing in trying to radically transform what child welfare really
is in their jurisdictions. It’s incredibly
heartening for me to sit here and to hear about those efforts
for a lot of different reasons. I think part of it is that
of all three of the presenters here today, what I’ve heard first
and foremost is vision. We have a vision of how
we want to serve children and families where we live, where they live
and that’s leading and driving the
work that we’re doing. Another reason I feel incredibly
encouraged and heartened is because we
aren’t just talking about a child welfare
agency out there trying to get other
people to come and play with us nicely in the sandbox. We’re talking
about joint efforts, a jointly owned vision, a jointly owned
set of expectations that we can as a community, a community of child
welfare where we are, wherever we are, share and begin to make that
our reality as we go forward. David, Paula and I are
just absolutely delighted to be here in the room
with the Washington State team, as we continue this effort to
use the state planning process and all the other tools that we have to try to
bring visions like this alive. I hope you can see that. We’ve got a lot of
people around the table here. We’ve got representatives
in this team of parents and youths who
have lived experience in the child welfare system. We’ve got attorneys here that
represent children, parents. We’ve got judges, at
least one judge I see, we may have more than that. The CASA is represented here. The court improvement
program, service providers. And by the way, we
have the leadership and the staff of the Child
Protection Agency here as well. So that’s pretty incredible. And I hope those of you
in this room right here don’t take it for granted, that this doesn’t
happen all over the place. But this has to happen if we’re going to really have
children and parents out there who have experienced
the child welfare system in a different way. I’m going to speak
for Washington State and say this group of
people, I have no doubt, has really
accepted the invitation, just as Judge Swope
has in West Virginia, and Keith and
others have in Delaware, and Jessica and the folks
in Jeffco out in Colorado. The challenge, the invitation
to jointly create a vision, and to move forward together to see how we can
make that a reality, not just for them
and their systems but again the children and the parents that
are a part of that system. If we’re serious as a system
about strengthening families and preventing the
trauma that comes from often unnecessary
parent/child separation and disrupting those
very difficult cycles that we all know about
that are intergenerational, prevention has to be
our common cause. It can’t be just the cause of
one of us or one group of us. It has to be
something that we believe in and that we believe that
we can bring to our work. And we all have an incredible
role to play in that. The examples that
you’ve heard about community-based prevention, another tool is
one of the big tools, the Family First Act
is an incredible tool. It’s not the end – it’s got to
be a part of a bigger vision, but it’s an incredible tool. The opportunity to have high
quality legal representation for children and parents. And we’re trying our best
at the federal government to make that more
accessible to you. All of those things are tools to help us address some of
the most difficult challenges that we have. Challenges that often include
mistaking poverty for neglect. Jessica, I can’t
tell you how encouraged I am to hear again
some of the work there that’s going to the root causes of why parents come to our
attention in the first place. Not just trying to fix something
that’s already happened bad in the lives of children but trying to
support those parents before they ever get
to the point of needing much more intensive
work in child welfare. Just within the
past couple of days, David and I were down in
California, down in San Diego. And we got to talk to
another set of parents going through exactly the same
kind of family strengthening, supportive
programming there that is
addressing their poverty, their needs for very
concrete things like housing, just in order to keep
their families together. And I left there yesterday
having spoken with parents who I have no question
in my mind are thriving. Jessica talked a
lot about thriving. Thriving, even living in
very substandard circumstances. Thriving, still trying
to get adequate housing and adequate employment. And one of the
messages that came through in talking to those parents is what allowed them to thrive
is that they were empowered. They didn’t feel hopeless. They didn’t feel
like they were victims. They were looking for solutions. Because a community-based
set of providers and people and primary
prevention organizations was coming together to help them find
some realistic solutions to the problems that otherwise
could very easily land them and their children
right in the front door of the child welfare system. This is possible.
It is absolutely doable. Folks like the presenters
that you just heard out there are doing it and other
people are doing it well. And we’re going to hold not
just the Washington State team to your vision and your desire to make life better
for children and families, but we’re going to hold all
of our state teams out there to this. We’re approaching this with
a tremendous amount of vigor, of enthusiasm, of urgency, and a sense that if we
don’t act on the momentum that we have going right now with our State Team Planning
Process, with Families First, with all of the work
that’s going on out there to move child welfare
in a different direction. If we don’t act on it right now, we’re missing I believe, one of the best opportunities
that we have in our field to do something different and do something better
for children and families. So, thank you all again. Thank you, folks,
here in Washington State for letting us come
and share this with you. And with that I’m
going to turn it over to the Child Welfare Secretary
here in Washington State, Ross Hunter, and let him share
with you a bit of his vision and his plan for changing things
here in Washington State. ROSS: So, we’re a new agency – thank you for the
gracious introduction. Thank you for
coming and terrorizing us to make sure that the
technology actually works. He’s coming, he controls hundreds
of millions of dollars – make his technology work. So that seems to have worked, at least from our end,
the whole time, thankfully. We’re a little bit bigger than
just the Child Welfare Agency. We have an opportunity
now to come at this problem, and I’ve been trying
to structure my remarks listening to folks about – we have an
opportunity to come in from the inside out
and the outside in. And a lot of the
people here in the room today are our plan moving
forward from the inside of the child welfare system out. So, we have a
five-year plan, we have a PIP – a Program Improvement Plan,
we have a new permanency grant, a coordinating,
strengthening outcomes grant. These are all opportunities
inside the child welfare system, once families
come to our attention, to make the system work better. And we’re going to do that. We’re investing, we’re going to be
one of the first states, if not the first state, to really fully
implement Family First, all of the work that we
need to do to make that work. But we’re really trying to
also start on the outside in and start with, what do we want
to have happen for children? We have some goals for children. We think that they ought
to be ready for kindergarten when they show
up in kindergarten. Many of the kids
we’re most worried about are two years behind at
that point and never catch up. We want to make sure they
graduate from high school. We want them to be engaged, we want them to move on after high school
because without that, it’s going to be hard
for them to be employed. We want them to be healthy. We have some broad measures that we are using about the
health of both populations, and the health of
individual children. And we want them
to have resiliency. When I first started out, this goal as we
tried to nail it down, it was an absence
of further harm goal. Let’s have them not come
into the child welfare system and not into the
juvenile justice system. And I got talked by
our research team into no, this is about not just
prevention further harm, but it’s about
building that social capital, building the resilience in
the child and in the family. Because these
children do not exist outside the
context of their family. So, we started with high
level goals and we bring, in addition to Family First, which is sort of an amazing gift and thank you again for the
parent representation money that just appeared in December. We’re very excited about that. I’m here to thank
you for money, right? But is how we bring
another $600 million dollars from Washington to the table
in our early learning focus and how do we wrap not
just the federal Head Start, but our state’s
investment in DCAP, which is significantly
larger in improving outcomes for at-risk children? 27 percent of the kids in our
state-run preschool programs have regular interaction
with the child welfare system. And we have got to get upstream. So our partners here who
are the courts, our providers, our public defense system, our child representation system, we all have to work together, but we also have to work
together with the bigger systems that wrap around these kids
to keep the kid and the family out of the juvenile
justice system for the – I’m happy to see you nod, because this is what we’ve
got to do to make this work and I’m excited
about the opportunity. But the inside-out opportunity
of this planning process and the injection
of new resources and new focus from Family First
is a great opportunity for us. So, thank you and we’re looking
forward to working together. COMMISSIONER MILNER:
Are we pretty much done? Tim, I think we have
done our thing here. TIM: All right, perfect. Well, thank you to
everyone for joining in. If you have last
minute comments or questions, we welcome those in the chat. Just a reminder to
everyone, you will be getting, if you registered, you’ll
be getting a follow-up email. It will contain a video link to Commissioner
Milner’s opening comments, as well as the
handouts that we have for you. If you can’t wait
to see the handout, you can download
them immediately now while the room is still open
for the next couple minutes. Thank you again everyone for
attending and have a good day.

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