We faced and met many challenges over the past year. Indeed, the events of 2020 have exposed deep inequities and revealed gross injustices. The COVID pandemic has disrupted our world profoundly. Many of us have lost loved ones. And most of us have family members, friends and neighbors who are facing tremendous hardships.
We cannot overstate how difficult this past year has been for so many families and communities. Understandably, our focus has been on the tragic and disorienting impact of this global crisis.
While we acknowledge the devastating effects of COVID-19, I would like to pause for a moment to reflect on the courageous response of Spaulding’s families, staff and board members, and on the most generous support we received from community members, business organizations and a private foundation to requests for resources needed amid the pandemic.
Each and every family and child in our care means the world to us. It has been so gratifying to see that because of the support we received throughout this difficult year, our families and staff remained stable, emergencies that came up with children and families were handled adequately and resources provided by community partners were deployed to mitigate some of the inequities exacerbated by the pandemic.
As strong Spaulding supporters, we all share the belief that children thrive when they grow up in safe, permanent families and have the help they need to be successful in life. It takes expertise, commitment, advocacy and financial resources to be accomplished.
As we turn the page and welcome the promise of better days ahead of us, we must continue to work together, in unity and solidarity – extending a helping hand to neighbors and strangers. We also must be intentional about equity to ensure every child, every family, and every community has access to services and resources they need.
We have hard work ahead of us in the year. But meeting those challenges is possible because of you.
We look forward to a 2021 filled with hope that soon our smiles will be safely seen without masks, a time when hugs will again be shared without fear. Until then, let’s remain vigilant, wear our masks, practice social distancing, and avoid crowds. Be well. Stay safe. And best wishes to you!
– Cristina Peixoto
President and Chief Executive Officer
Spaulding for Children
'This Hill We Climb'
Amanda Gorman, 22-Year-Old National Youth Poet Laureate Reads at Presidential Inaugural
Amanda Gorman, a 22-year Harvard University graduate from Los Angeles and America's first National Youth Poet Laureate, had the honor to read at the inauguration of President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., and Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday, Jan. 20. Ms. Gorman became part of history, the youngest person to recite a work at a Presidential inauguration. The following is a transcript of her poem,"The Hill We Climb."
Mr. President, Dr. Biden, Madam Vice President, Mr. Emhoff, Americans, and the world.
When day comes, we ask ourselves, 'Where can we find light in this never ending shade? The loss we carry, a sea we must wade.'
We've braved the belly of the beast. We've learned that quiet isn't always peace. In the norms and notions of what just is, isn't always justice. And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it. Somehow we do it. Somehow we've weathered and witnessed a nation that isn't broken, but simply unfinished.
We, the successors of a country and the time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president only to find herself reciting for one.
And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn't mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect. We are striving to forge our union with purpose. To compose a country, committed to all cultures, colors, characters, and conditions of man.
And so we lift our gaze, not to what stands between us, but what stands before us. We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside. We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another. We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe, if nothing else say, this is true. That even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped. That even as we tired, we tried that will forever be tied together victorious. Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree and no one shall make them afraid. If we're to live up to our own time, then victory won't lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we've made.
That is the promise to glade the hill we climb. If only we dare it's because being American is more than a pride we inherit. It's the past we step into, and how we repair it.
We've seen a force that would shatter our nation, rather than share it. Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. And this effort very nearly succeeded, but while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth, in this faith we trust for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us. This is the era of just redemption. We feared it at its inception.
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of of such a terrifying hour, but within it, we found the power to author a new chapter. To offer hope and laughter to ourselves.
So while once we asked, 'How could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?' Now we assert: 'How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?'
We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be a country that is bruised, but whole benevolence, but bold, fierce, and free. We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation.
Our blunders become their burdens, but one thing is certain. If we merged mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy, and change our children's birthright.
So let us leave behind a country better than one we were left. With every breath, my bronze pounded chest. We will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one. We will rise from the gold-limned hills of the West. We will rise from the wind swept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution. We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states. We will arise from the sun baked South. We will rebuild, reconciled and recover and every known nook over a nation and every corner called our country. Our people diverse and beautiful will emerge, battered and beautiful.
When day comes, we step out of the shade of flame and unafraid, the new dawn blooms as we free it. For there was always light. If only we're brave enough to see it. If only we're brave enough to be it.
New Hires, New Interns, New Faces
Spaulding Professional Teams Continue to Grow
In 2020 we welcomed several new team members, including:
Our Student Internship Program placed four student interns in Child and Family Services from Madonna University, Oakland University (two) and Wayne State University. We also look forward to welcoming a new intern later this month from Eastern Michigan University, who will be working in Human Resources. Go Spaulding!
We have additional opportunities for interns and volunteers to help with development and in other departments.
And we are always looking for talented and passionate team members!! For details on professional and volunteer opportunities visit our website and look under "Get Involved."Or contact Jamie Bozarth, HR Director at email@example.com and (248) 443-7080 ext. 275.
Thalia Wright, 2020 MPLD Fellow
Advancing a 'Blind Removal' Strategy
When it comes to deciding who gets removed from a home, the color of a child's skin matters. To make removal decisions more equitable, Thalia Wright, Commissioner of Monroe County (New York)
Department of Human Services, and a member of the 2020 Minority Professional Leadership Development (MPLD) cohort, recommends considerations for removal be made without knowledge of a child or family's race through a practice called Blind Removal.
Ms. Wright, who has devoted years of her career in child welfare, wanted to explore the roots of this disproportionality and develop strategies to reduce it. She discovered that there was racial disparity when removing children from a home.
A 2020 MLPD fellow, Thalia Wright MS, MSL started her career in child welfare as an investigator and is currently Commissioner for the Monroe County Department of Human Services in New York state. She has worked across counties in the state and developed partnerships across departments and disciplines.
It is widely known that children experience trauma upon removal from their families and those in child welfare work assiduously to prevent removal. Now evidence confirms that children of color are disproportionately represented among those who are investigated and removed.
Once families get involved with the child welfare system, children of color are more likely to be admitted into foster care and it takes longer for them to achieve permanence through family reunification or adoption.
Ms. Wright has participated in the development of evaluation, training and strategies around blind removal practices that have proven to reduce the incidence of children of color being removed from their home.
Ms. Wright presented this topic and her findings to all Spaulding staff in September and is also presenting this topic as part of her 2020 MLPD presentation later this month.
Her findings were detailed in a presentation prepared for the Monroe County (New York) Department of Human Services entitled, “Creating Better Outcomes for Child Welfare Cases: An Introduction to Blind Removal Meetings to Address Disproportionate Minority Representation.”
Drawing on her years of experience and various roles throughout New York state, she has developed recommendations for a Blind Removal Strategy aimed at reducing the disproportionate number of children of color in the foster care system.
In conducting her analysis, every aspect of the process was examined from the case worker and their training and supervision, to administrators and the court system.
Among the projects she and her collaborators developed is mandatory training which includes Cultural Competence training for all administrative, supervisory and casework staff of CPS and children’s services. Additionally, there is a court improvement project for family court and its judges.
Another project addressed CPS investigations and how they impacted child removal with the goal of developing an assessment tool that looks at the entire family support structure including developing a “kinship firewall” and bringing in a family engagement specialist.
MPLD Alumni and Fellows Share at Adoption Conference in Puerto Rico
AdoptUSKids Minority Professional Leadership Development (MPLD) alumni and fellows were among the speakers in November for the “Congreso de Adopción 2020” in Puerto Rico where they offered their knowledge to an audience of child welfare professionals in Spanish.
The goal of this event, “Conference on Adoption 2020” in English, was to help build capacity for adoption professionals in Puerto Rico and to provide content with which to train new staff.
The event covered:
How to engage and work with families through the adoption process.
Partnering with the faith-based community.
How to use data to improve recruitment and retention of adoptive families.
Adoption of older youth.
The presentations are one of the many ways MPLD makes connections and creates opportunities for minority leaders in the field. To learn more about MPLD and how you can apply, click here or on the button below.
The photo above shows the Puerto Rico archipelago from the International Space Station, in orbit about 270 miles above the earth, taken by NASA astronaut Joseph M. Acaba in 2017. Acaba's parents were born on the island, a Commonwealth Territory of the United States.
New Webinar on 'Impact of Social Media on Families and Children'
On Feb. 18, 2021, we are presenting a webinar on social media and its impact on families and children. The program will examine the challenges and impacts on our families, including those that are unique to teens and children. The session will include the insight and analysis of many professionals, but also will contain real life techniques, tips and tools for families to enhance their well-being.
Using social media platforms is among the most common activity of today's families. While many parents, teens and children use social media well, some are at some risk as they navigate through the vast online world. Whether families are affected positively or negatively, social media continue to be a significant factor impacting family’s well-being which may be determined by how they interact with social media platforms.
The webinar is titled: "Social Media and Its Impact on Families and Children." Panelists will discuss the impact of social media from the ethical, mental health, and civic engagement perspectives. There will be a focus on how parents can enhance their capacity to mitigate the risks and increase responsible use of online platforms.
"Social Media and Its Impact on Families and Children" will create an opportunity for each participant to become aware of their own families’ interactions with social media. Participants also will learn strategies and get real life techniques, helpful tips and tools so they can enjoy a healthy usage of social networking platforms.
Sundays at 7 p.m.
Children and families will enjoy StoryTime with Miss Katie each Sunday. In addition to great stories, listeners get a chance to win the featured books of the month. The January schedule includes:
Jan. 24 -- The Mine-o-Saur by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
Jan. 31 -- Pinkalicious by Victoria Kann and Elizabeth Kann
If you would like to become a sponsor and purchase books for our monthly contest for StoryTime, please contact us: Social@spaulding.org.
In partnership with families, communities, organizations, states and the nation, Spaulding for Children’s mission is to assure that all children grow up in safe, permanent families and have the help they need to be successful in life.