“I’ve seen momentous change because of this program. Because of my brothers. They sit and they talk to me. They don’t talk at me. Nobody in here puts anybody down. And this is one of the greatest things that a father needs.”
~ Fatherhood program participant
Rising to the challenge
The pandemic exacerbated hardships that many of our families already face: poverty, mental health issues, food insecurity, and joblessness. With families facing more stress than ever before, Children’s Home & Aid had to be nimble and open to exploring new ways of working together and supporting those we serve. The road wasn’t easy. But we did whatever it took to identify problems as opportunities and adapted to become more effective partners with our families and our staff. And together, we collectively found solutions.
Donors like you have been vital to our evolution this past year, providing key resources and support that allowed us to deepen our mission and make tangible steps toward our vision of seeing every child, family, and community thrive. We are excited to share reflections from this past year with you and highlight some of the ways in which we embraced this transformative journey and are planning for the next chapter of work ahead.
Rooting our work in today’s realities
After 16 months of virtual service delivery, we have slowly and deliberately started our transition toward a “different” normal. We are back working with families in their homes, our early childhood centers are open and staff have returned at least part time to the office. This is our “different” normal because we are reviewing what worked well during our time of virtual work and we are utilizing the learnings to create greater flexibility for both those we serve and our dedicated staff. This includes doing more virtual work in rural parts of the state where travel time can eat up hours better spent with clients.
We’ve also found that virtual work can actually make it easier for teens to open up with a therapist, where texts and video sessions come more easily than in-person visits. There are so many other ways in which staff have adapted to meeting the needs of families during this challenging moment, and it is all shaping how we’ll approach the work in the future.
“Parents need people they can rely on when they are feeling overwhelmed. Without advice or access to support, parents can feel isolated and there are higher risks for child abuse and neglect. Through our groups, parents connect with each other and incorporate new skills and strategies to ensure the health of their families.
~ Dorothy Davis, Central Region Coordinator of Parents Care & Share
Shining a light on the need for change
It is impossible to ignore the challenges we’ve encountered over the last year and how systemic racism and inequities have had a disproportionate impact on communities of color. Every indicator—whether health, financial or emotional stress—highlighted a grim reality: as disruptive and unsettling as the past year has been on all of us, Black and Brown families and their children have fared the worst. Health disparities deepened, the income gap widened and children from Black and Brown families were less likely to maintain remote learning connections, falling further behind in their learning.
The pandemic reinforced an idea already under way before the pandemic hit. By putting racial and social equity at the center of our work, we can meet the goal of enhanced impact and mitigation of fixable challenges before they snowball into life-altering, generational issues. Our vision acknowledges that families are the greatest asset for children, and that we do our best work at Children’s Home & Aid when we partner with parents and caregivers as advocates, coaches and mentors and not judges or fixers.
These core ideas—racial and social equity, investing and partnering with families—is what we are describing as our Blueprint for Impact. Capturing the essence of why our work as an organization matters, this two-page document outlines our call to live our values in the work we do and to challenge the very systems that threaten our vision of an equitable world where families receive the support they tell us they need.
The ideas and call to action in the Blueprint for Impact is more than an aspiration to meet the moment. Our Board of Trustees challenged the organization’s leadership to build a strategic plan to guide us over the next several years in a way consistent with the commitments articulated in the Blueprint for Impact. What emerged were three major themes to guide our work: moving deliberately upstream to emphasize prevention, redesigning our services to invest in the family as the critical asset for child well-being and breaking the cycle of poverty and child maltreatment by disrupting racial and social inequity.
Over the course of a year, we asked tough questions of our trustees, families and partners, listened to those with lived experiences and took stock of what we do well and where we need to grow. The resulting plan is backed by specific actions, benchmarks and the investments we need to make progress.
“It’s incredibly powerful to watch kids in our programs as they discover they have it within themselves to shape their own lives and make a difference. Together with our partners, we’re connecting the dots between services to create more opportunities for kids to learn, grow, and give back to their communities. This is how change begins.”
~ Michel Quezada, Manager of Family & Community Engagement
Living our values in real-time
Already over the past year, we have generated incredible momentum for this shift in approach. Below are some highlights of how we are partnering in new ways with the 30,000 children and families enrolled in our programs, many of which are living in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
- Empowering parents and caregivers as they build on their strengths and work to prevent fixable challenges from becoming life-altering ones, with an emphasis on prevention, keeping families intact, and engaging support from relatives and other kin. [Read More]
- Growing our fatherhood programming to give dads more opportunities to connect in a safe space and do what it takes to become emotionally healthy and available for their kids. [Read More]
- Deepening our connection with longstanding community partners to support more youth as they gain practical, paid, on-the-job experience, bond with other teens, and learn to believe in themselves. [Read More]
- Providing families with rent and technology assistance to keep connections strong through the pandemic and ensuring families had critical resources and basic supplies such as diapers, formula, PPE, and groceries to keep their homes running in tough times. [Read More]
- Offering a wide range of parenting supports, tools, and resources, including flexible in-person and home visiting options for families, expanded early head start offerings, doula services, and more. [Read More]
- Increasing our Human Rights Campaign Foundation – All Children All Families ranking by connecting the Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committee with the LGBTQ+ Committee to be thoughtful and intentional about doing LGBTQ+ work in way that is informed by racial equity. [Read More]
Successes like these, and so many others, are guided by the insights of families and communities, and made possible by our loyal donors and partners.
“I could have let my grandkids go into the system, but in my heart and mind there was no doubt what the choice would be. My family is always first. It was at that point my grandchildren came to stay with me… Right now, I’m doing my best to give them permanence and help them trust again.”
~ Jennifer, Relative Caregiver
Creating a Brighter, More Equitable Future for Families
We’re excited about our future, and after everything we’ve learned over the past year, we can’t wait to get to work. We know the stakes are high, but we also know that we are not alone. We have incredible partners like you supporting us every step of the way.
To learn more about you can help us enrich our programming and provide access to more resources, tools, and support for all children and families, please visit us online.
Thank you for joining us as we continue to enrich our understanding of what communities need to flourish and strive to ensure that all children have the same opportunities from the very beginning to grow and succeed. Together, we can develop more effective ways to strengthen families, so they feel empowered when navigating the complex and ever-changing problems out there today.