Voices from the Village: How We Approach Family Reunification
At The Children’s Village, we believe that all children deserve a chance to flourish. We know that keeping and connecting young people with family is key to that goal. As we near the end of Foster Care Month, we wanted to share our team’s approach to child welfare, in their own words:
“Too many families are needlessly separated, with children placed in foster care in the name of safety,” CEO Jeremy Kohomban wrote in a New York Times letter to the editor. “We take our responsibility to ensure kids’ safety extremely seriously. But we also take seriously the harms perpetuated by this system, because separating a family causes significant trauma with real consequences…While we have made some progress, we envision a future in which removing kids from their homes is extremely rare.”
The Children’s Village is one of the oldest and largest foster care agencies, but over the past twenty years we have shifted to proactively supporting families before they are separated.
“We have evolved greatly to a more trauma informed approach and incorporate interventions on a preventive level,” shared VP of Behavioral Services Daphne Torres in a Q&A. “This allows for an entry point to supportive services for families that does not require removing a child from the home. We focus on investing in the family and community network to help young people remain where they are loved, connected, and can be supported.
When families are already in the child welfare system, we take a team-based approach to help build and maintain relationships.
“We believe that foster care is temporary,” says Danielle Gaffney Kryger, VP for Community Based Foster Care. “We start with the end in mind, focusing immediately on what supports families need to be reunited. We emphasize the importance of co-parenting between our caregivers and parents. This ensures the child is at the center, and serves as an additional person the parent, who is often isolated, can count on. Our Caregivers often remain connected to the children and their parents long after they have been reunited. It truly does take a “Village” to raise a child!”
Promoting equity is at the heart of our work. We reckon with the impacts of systemic racism on the families we serve and advocate for change, while on an individual level seek to help young people feel a sense of agency and belonging.
“There is power in being educated about the history of your people because it gives you a sense of pride and a foundation to build toward your future. It saddens me that many of the young people I work with do not have a strong connection to their history because they are so far removed from their family origins due to their involvement in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. That’s where my job as Director of Equity and Special Projects for Children’s Village comes into focus.” – Kerlyne Colin wrote this Black History Month.
We are proud to have a dedicated team of professionals who are incredibly passionate about their work!
“I love that I get to handpick foster parents and make sure people are the right fit,” says foster care recruiter Ronald Dorsett, who draws motivation from his own story. “Being a foster parent is so life changing – for both the parents and the children – and I don’t take that lightly. It can be an incredible positive.”