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1 Presentation to the 2011 Children in Court Summit Achieving Brighter Futures for Our Youth Their Future is Our Future New Jersey Court Improvement Project.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Presentation to the 2011 Children in Court Summit Achieving Brighter Futures for Our Youth Their Future is Our Future New Jersey Court Improvement Project."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Presentation to the 2011 Children in Court Summit Achieving Brighter Futures for Our Youth Their Future is Our Future New Jersey Court Improvement Project Marcia M. Sturdivant, Ph.D. Deputy Director Allegheny County Department of Human Services Office of Children, Youth and Families May 3, 2011 Communities in Partnership to Protect Children: Advancing Permanency Outcomes by Incorporating Philosophy to Drive Systemic Change

2 2 About ACCYF ACCYF IS NOT A PERFECT CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM! THE ONLY PERFECT CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM IS NO CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM!

3 3 Shifting the Paradigm: Changing Philosophy and Practice Safety Measures – 1 st and foremost Community Mistrust Placement Rates Quality Assurance Diversity and Inclusiveness

4 4 Hard Lessons, Big Pills, Denial We have to accept things we dont like to hear or believe, but a real commitment to improving practice requires a level of receptiveness that isnt always comfortable. In the end, we will be better professionals and children and families will be better served. Unfortunately, some people will always want to feel comfortable; lets start with the people who are willing to be challenged.

5 5 Ethnic minority children are more likely to be separated from their parents Ethnic minority children are more likely to receive higher levels of intervention strategies Ethnic minority children spend more time in foster care Ethnic minority children receive inferior services (Roberts, 2004) Facts About U.S. Child Welfare System of Care: Race, Class and Gender Matters

6 6 Placement - 56% vs. 24% Length of time in placement - 62 months vs. 36 months Length of open case longer than 18 months - 64% vs. 31% When poverty is controlled minority children still have a 42% lower probability of leaving custody Facts About U.S. Child Welfare System of Care: Race, Class and Gender Matters

7 7 Child welfare is largely a system addressing concerns of women parenting children. The view of the absentee father is prevalent in child welfare perception, philosophy and practice. Social challenges related to gender receive little attention in child welfare practice. Facts About U.S. Child Welfare System of Care: Race, Class and Gender Matters

8 8 Public Perceptions and Public Policy Foundations of Disparity The feminization of poverty Some governments alleviate the problem through public policies designed to remedy economic and social hardships U.S. has responded to the phenomenon with policies designed less to remedy inequities than to try to control behavior and demonstrate dominant attitudes about the relationship between home, family, and government (Geiger, 1995)

9 9 Public Perceptions and Public Policy Foundations of Disparity The feminization of poverty Public policy is deeply rooted in stereotypical perceptions of poor, single and minority mothers. There are a lot of…lies that male society tells about welfare mothers…If people are willing to believe these lies, its partly because theyre just special versions of the lies that society tells about all women (Johnnie Tillman, 1972)

10 10 Economic Impact of Disparity Child Welfare is a multi-billion dollar industry creating jobs for systems, but depletes communities of their foundational strengths, i.e. self-sufficient, government-free families. Inclusion in the child welfare system negatively effects individual employment, educational, social, and recreational opportunities and subsequently effects the economic viability of communities and ultimately the nation.

11 11 The history of the child welfare field is a history of paternalism (Andrew Turnell, 1998) Current Child Welfare Practice and Philosophy

12 12 Current Child Welfare Practice and Philosophy Paternalism is defined as: The process whereby the professional approaches the child protection service recipient with the attitude that it is the professionals opinion that carries the most import in the interaction.

13 13 Current Child Welfare Practice and Philosophy The professional evaluates the nature of the problem, the risk and the harm, and formulates the solutions required to resolve the matter. What the service recipient thinks is secondary.

14 14 Biogenic Theory Individual Biologically inherited predispositions

15 15 Ecological Systems Theory Individual Microsystem Mesosystem Exosystem Macrosystem Chronosystem

16 16 Attribution theory and child welfare practice

17 17 The Influence of Probation Officers and Social Workers in Perpetuating Stereotypes For all ethnic groups, children of color are more likely to be viewed as in need of rehabilitation, unreceptive to treatment, or in need of behavioral intervention: resulting in higher rates of detention, foster care and institutional placement (Roberts, 2004) Maltreated and neglected children from low S.E.S. groups are seen as sympathetic victims from dysfunctional families and communities and more likely to be removed from their communities by child welfare practitioners

18 18 Indirect Effects of Disparity on Child Welfare Recipients Cultural Mistrust Psycho-Social Maladjustment Economic Impact

19 19 Child Centered Family Centered Integrated Child Welfare Practice: Historical Change in Philosophy

20 20 Family Systems Theory Families are like mobiles. When one piece of the mobile moves, the whole mobile moves.

21 21 Families have strengths and can change. Strengths are what ultimately resolve concerns. Strengths are discovered through listening, noticing, and paying attention to people. Strengths are enhanced when they are acknowledged and encouraged. ACCYF Values and Beliefs

22 22 Necessary Practice Change 1 st – Paradigm shift: both philosophical and in practice Shift from a deficit based approach structured on risk and internalize a strength-based approach structured on the reality of strengths.

23 23 Strength Based Inclusive Encourages Family Honest/open Team Effort Creative Individualized Culturally Sensitive Differences : Traditional vs. Family/Community Empowerment Models

24 24 Birth to 6 years Response ACCYF Foster Care Visits Parent Advocacy Community Workshops Permanency Planning Conferences Quality Assurance (Case Practice Specialists) P.O.W.E.R. (D/A) Urban League of Pittsburgh Housing Travelers Aide / Medical Assistance Transportation Gwens Girls Mother to Son Parents at Risk of TPR Male Coalition Truancy Treatment (CES and YAP) Families United Celebration Career Motivation Celebration of Success D.A.D.S Family Group Decision Making Inua Ubuntu High Fidelity Wrap Transition Age Youth ACCYF Initiatives

25 25 Prevention Programs (27) Family Support Centers (32) Foster Care (37) In-Home (8) In-Home (6) - Crisis Residential TX (9) Transportation ACCYF Programs

26 26 Permanency in Allegheny County Background 14,890 children served by the Office of Children, Youth and Families in ,536 children experienced out-of-home placement during 2010 At any point in time, about 63% of youth in foster care are with kin.

27 Total Count Type of Primary Placement Congregate Care22%28%26%25% 27%25%23%25%21% Foster Care41%39%40%35% 33% 39%36%38% Kinship Care34%28%29%37%36%38%40%35%37%38% Independent Living2% 1% No Primary Placement1%3%2% 1%2%1% Type of Primary Placement for First Entries,

28 28 Type of Primary Placement, by Age at Time of Entry,

29 29 Length of Stay Congregate Care Foster Care Kinship Care No Primary Placement Total Under 1 month25%28%6%2%18% 1 to 2 months22%15%19%8%17% 3 to 5 months11%9%15%11% 6 to 11 months14%11% 16%11% 12 to 17 months9%6%8%15%7% 18 to 35 months11%21%29%18%24% 3 years or longer7%10%12%30%11% Total100% Length of Stay by Primary Care Type, Youth Ages 0-12 at Entry

30 30 Still in Care Return to Family AdoptionPLC Non- Permanent Reach Majority RunawayOther Congregate Care3%64%2%0%12%2%11%8% Foster Care10%60%20%1%3%1% 4% Kinship Care13%53%13%10%2% 3%4% Independent Living3%47%3%0%10%15%14%8% No Primary Placement11%40%7%0%9%12%13%10% Total9%58%13%4%5%2%5% Exit Destinations from First Spell, by Primary Placement Type,

31 31 Congregate Care Foster Care Kinship Care Independent Living No Primary Placement Total First Entries Total Exits As percent of all entries98%90%87%97%89% Total Reentries As percent of all exits47%29% 23%42% Reenter Within 1 Year As percent of all entries39%19% 18%31% As percent of all exits40%21%22%19%35% As percent of positive exits32%18%19%15%25% Reentries into Care after First Spell, by Primary Placement Type,

32 32 Recommended Strategies Open and constructive dialogue about the uncomfortable realty of the existence of race, class and gender biases in child welfare - individual and systemic Train and educate agency staff and stakeholders about institutional and structural racism and its impact on decision-making, policy and practice Comprehensive review conducted by community and system partners to ensure that policies, practices, programs and services are supportive of children and families of color, poor families and families often marginalized in social systems Employment of Healers and Helpers at all levels of leadership, staffing and contracts that reflect the cultural, spiritual, religious and racial backgrounds of the population served.

33 33 Recommended Strategies Improve the capacity of communities to prevent child abuse and neglect while promoting social reform designed to improve the quality of life for parents and their children

34 34 Recommended Strategies (Federal) Anti-Poverty Policy Options Policies to meet the general needs of the poor Categorical strategies of providing special financial assistance to single mothers so that they can stay at home with their children Universal young-child strategies under which cash benefits and policy supports are given to all families with young children


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