Sharing Best Practices Learned through More than 20 Years of Leadership and Learning
On Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, I was honored to make a presentation to the State of Indiana Department of Child Services Interim Study Committee on the best practices of agencies and programs that address children who are victims of abuse and neglect.
It was my pleasure to represent the Alliance and Families International to the lawmakers in the State of Indiana, and share some of the key characteristics and strategies of successful child welfare systems that I have picked up in more than 20 years within the field.
First, I told them I believed that paramount to success is a clearly articulated legislative policy on what the system is to achieve and the principles through which it is to lead and align program and practice.
As my presentation states, “Too many times folks focus on the design of the program and they lose sight of not just the policy we are striving to achieve, but the fact that the only way to achieve them is through true engagement of our employees and our many and varied partners.” By partners, I mean the nonprofit human serving sector.
I believe that a key to successful child welfare systems is the vision and leadership of the public sector agency in inviting the community, other state agencies, philanthropy, and others to actively participate and share accountability for the success of the system. Reforms from the top down may make for short term gains, but they do not bring long term and impactful change.
Another point make in this presentation is that we must recognize the powerful implications of poverty in child welfare. I said, “Child welfare simply cannot work if we don't accept the data that clearly shows us its connection to poverty and neglect. This is where partnerships again are key. The work being done across the country to strengthen our work with housing partners is showing great promise.”
There are many more points in Medicaid, out-of-home-placement, and the use of data analytics.
Yet, I reminded the committee that the greatest assets are the public and nonprofit agency employees who are on the front lines each and every day and it is imperative that they are inspired by the policy, appreciated, cared for, respected, and truly engaged.
Feel free to review my presentation.
About the Author
Susan Dreyfus is president and CEO of the Alliance and its parent holding company, Families International. In her capacity as president and CEO of Families International, she is CEO of United Neighborhood Centers of America and Ways to Work. Immediately preceding this role, she was secretary of the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. She also previously was senior vice president and COO of the Alliance and Families International.