Executive’s Corner September 2021
Our Annual Community Meeting is the opportunity to share with stakeholders the impact of our supports and service, advocacy positions, and theory for change. Throughout our 126 Years of Service, One Hope United has been providing quality solutions that protect children, stabilize families, and sustain communities. Our vision, For Every Child and Family, Life Without Limits, is realized because of committed Hope Members, a thoughtful Executive Leadership Team, and a collaborative Board of Directors. And I sincerely thank each and every one of them for believing in and affirming my leadership. Thank you!
I am very excited to have had Dr. David Sanders, Executive Vice President of Systems Improvements at Casey Family Programs, as our 2021 Annual Community Meeting keynote speaker. David discussed Envisioning The Child Welfare System in 2031.
There are so many concerns and challenges today and definitely over the past two years. So, why am I visioning 10 years ahead to OHU 2031? For me, it centers on the state of our current Child Welfare System, which does not adequately protect or improve the safety and wellbeing of our children and youth.
I am not suggesting that we – advocates, stakeholders, providers, and funders – are not identifying solutions and opportunities that enrich lives and future. But if we are candid, our system has not yet resolved the issues that perpetuate the same cycles over and over within families and communities. This is evident by the ongoing incidents of maltreatment, lack of mental health services, excessive lengths of stays, frequent moves on multiple placements, severe shortages of foster homes, high staff caseloads, and increases in workforce turnover all of which subject children, youth, and families to continued trauma.
That said, the state of child welfare is in reform.
From federal and state government to funder and provider conversations, there are shifts to develop a system of care that is not only trauma-informed, but trauma-responsive. All too often, reform takes place in response to tragedy. Then changes happen at an alarmingly fast pace, without efficiency and gradual implementation. These reform efforts are frequently met with a lack of collaboration, knowledge sharing, training, coaching, clearly explained action plans, and an evaluation matrix.
The successful reform – or reimagining of our system – must have stakeholder engagement, stable and measured progress, quality services, improved outcomes, and above all, accountability.
My One Hope United Vision is Every Day to Empower Every Person to Achieve a Life without Limits. How will this vision be realized in 2031?
- Children and youth are safe, stable, healthy, educated, employed, and connected.
- Lived experiences are essential to our mission building and mission movement efforts.
- Mothers and fathers are equally viewed and received as integral parts of their children’s lives and family units, with unification as a viable option.
- Step – down, continuum of care and transitional living resources are available to every child in care and every youth transitioning to adulthood.
- Significant local community presence and engagement.
- Substantial public and private partnerships.
- Policy, processes and practices are implemented through a race equity lens.
- Program operations are fully funded at budget.
- Hope Members are competitively compensated with critical benefits and regular COLA adjustments.
- Workforce challenges are non-existent.
- My Executive Cabinet and I are recognized child welfare thought – leaders on service delivery, employee engagement, financial sustainability, philanthropic support, and policy/regulatory proposals.
- OHU’s service footprints are strengthened in our existing jurisdictions of Florida, Illinois, Missouri, and Wisconsin while developing in other territories.
My 2031 vision does not have a budget ascribed for one simple reason – I envision a Child Welfare system, and for that matter all systems of care, that are deliberately and actively seeking to ensure that those in the system feel they are worth the investment of love, value, significance, belonging, community, and restoration of hope for the future. Funding must align with need and not the other way around. Whether you say dismantling, restructuring, or reimagining, this is system reform.
Socrates once said, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on the old, but on building the new.” Over the next 10 years, I look forward to building the new alongside each of you. Here we come 2031!
United In Hope,
Dr. Charles A. Montorio-Archer
President and CEO