Sunday, July 3, 2016

Having Workforce Programs in Low Income Areas

Every child deserves an opportunity to succeed in order to become a productive citizen. Imagine a world where, right after a student graduates high school, they are fully prepared to enter the workforce. There is much evidence to support the theory that schools that implement workforce programs provide students with the skills they need to enter the working world. Workforce programs provide guidance, support, and current programming that can help individuals succeed. If every high school had a career office, and taught workshops that included interviewing techniques, resume writing, job search, and workplace etiquette, more individuals would be prepared for the job market.

Children who come from low-income families are more likely to be unemployed and have lower levels of educations. This is an area of opportunity to reach out to communities plagued with poverty, and to provide the needed career resources to help combat unemployment rates. Having programs for both students and adults can prepare individuals of all ages to enter the workforce. Children need the right opportunities and exposure to career choices and options.  The government and various localities need to provide these social programs to help alleviate poverty. Workforce social programs can bring opportunities to communities that are low income. Residents might not have transportation or access to the internet and computers to search and apply for jobs. This social solution can provide career workshops and assistance in the job search process.

A community that is thriving with income and resources can reduce crime, gang violence, and other social problems that effect communities. If government programs do not allocate funds to start these community centers, macro practitioners can utilize their social work skills to gather needed materials for these centers. Macro practitioners can help with these issues by volunteering to teach various career classes. Organizing fundraisers for computers, resources, and other materials to help job seekers. Networking with businesses to donate money or items for new job packages which includes professional work clothes, bus passes, lunchboxes, and other items needed when someone starts a new job. Macro social workers are not only taught how to work directly with clients, but how to work with the community to solve social problems. Social workers can also utilize administrative skills to write grants to get additional funding to pay a full-time or part-time staff member to run the workforce program. Investing in the community can help reduce social problems if individuals are given the skills and tools to obtain employment. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

CPS Reporting and Mandated Reporter Training

In Virginia, there are  different CPS referral reporter sources. Many forms are attorneys, CASA, babysitters, clergy, counselors, court/probation, dentists, Department of Social Services staff, eligibility workers, ex-spouses, parents, neighbors, parole officers, medical professionals, school staff, and a lot of other individuals in the community. While talking with my supervisor in supervision, she informed me that a lot of the mandated reporter training is not touching on the cultural competence piece. 

Being culturally competent is not being of the same race or ethnicity to understand the culture. Cultural Competence is the ability of individuals and systems to respond respectfully and effectively to people of ALL cultures, classes, races, ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, and faiths or religions in a manner that recognizes, affirms, and values the worth of individuals, families, tribes, and communities and protects and preserves the dignity of each. 

I challenge you to take the Harvard Implicit Test to better understand your personal biases. Being self-aware of any biases can help you to understand yourself better, and have better relationships when  working with clients, families, groups, and communities. As an inspiring macro social work practitioner, I still have to be aware of my biases and work on being culturally competent. 

I wanted to look at the data from the Virginia Child Protective Service Referral Reporter Source Annual Report. This report period is from 7/1/2013- 6/30/2014. 

Here are a few highlights:

In Prince William County, (Northern Region) there were 1,162 reports made from Public Schools and  1,068 referrals made from Law Enforcement and 4,658 total reports made from various sources.

In Richmond City (Central Region), there were 337 reports made from counselor/therapist, and 306 reports made from Law Enforcement. The total number of reports made last fiscal year were 2,425. 

In Loudoun County, (Northern Region) there were 641 referrals made from Public School and 413 referrals made from Law Enforcement. There were a total of 2,319 reports made last fiscal year. 

In Roanoke City (Piedmont Region) there were 376 referrals made from  school staff and 370 reports made from unknown sources. There were a total of 2,155 reports made last fiscal year. 

In Norfolk, (Eastern Region) there were 276 referrals from Law Enforcement, and 229 from unknown sources. There were a total of 1, 997 reports made last fiscal year. 

In the City of Alexandria, (Northern Region)  the highest CPS referrals came from Schools with 277 reports, and Law Enforcement with 243 reports made last fiscal year. The City of Alexandria had 1,133 reports. 

I included Alexandria because I am using them as a comparison. So, we have all this data, and what does it mean? There are a lot of reports being made from law enforcement and public schools. Are public service workers culturally competent and can differentiate between poverty and neglect? Not being aware of other cultures interfere with making reports. What can we do with this data to make our community partners aware of these issues?

How can we raise awareness about poverty, child abuse, and the many stressors of poverty? We have to first present the data, because numbers tell a story that we cannot. We have to have the data to support our argument. We have to find common ground with other people in the community to make them aware of these issues are clients face on a daily basis. I am an advocate for the child, but also for the family. You have to work with the family to help reduce child poverty. You have to look at this issue from a holistic approach, and understand how the systems interrelate with each other. Let's have a discussion. Please post in the comment box below, what you we can do to eliminate these social problems. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

CASA targeted recruitment and disproportionality in Child Welfare

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) is a National child advocacy program that judges appoint to speak for the safety and well-being of abused and neglected children. By being independent investigators and advocates, volunteers can make all the difference in these children's lives. Research shows that children with a CASA volunteer are much less likely to languish in long-term foster care.

Volunteers are the heart of the program and do amazing work for children in the child welfare system. Many people have not heard about this program, and it is our job as social workers to get the message out. When trying to combat disproportionality in child welfare, this program would be a good way to give minority children a voice. Recruiting male volunteers, as well people of color is beneficial because of their perspective, and experience in life. When children of color have advocates who look like them, it makes it easier for them to open up.  Often time social workers may be apart of a dominant race, come from a two parent home which may influence their decision making when working on the case. It is important for social workers to be culturally sensitive and aware of personal biases.

How can you recruit for your local CASA program?

  • Reach out and host CASA events in local community centers
  • Religious institutions because they are the spiritual center within communities of color
  • Local NAACP, Urban League, and other social justice organizations 
  • Passing out flyers, information, and brochures
  • Attending local community events to share information and discuss CASA
I joined CASA four years ago because I was working on my BSW and I wanted to do something meaningfully. I was interested with working with youth in foster care. CASA is a great way to give back and advocate against injustices happening to children of color. Being a CASA is rewarding, and brought joy to my heart. As a CASA you go through a 30-hour training, get swore in by a judge. Once you are a CASA you speak with everyone on the case, Guardian at Litems, biological parents, foster parents, family members, teachers, guidance counselors, case managers, and the child or children on the case.  You have to write reports for the judge to read, and in my experience, the judge actually read my report. He took in consideration my opinion and recommendations. If you know someone who is interested or you are interested in become a CASA volunteer visit this website:

These are just a few suggestions to get you started on targeted recruitment for CASA. Always be honest and have statistics about the child welfare system on hand. This advocacy program can make a difference in a child's life. Just think if we had more child advocates of color. There are already in the community, we just have to reach out to them, and make them aware of the great work this program does. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Disproportionality Research

I'm week 12 into my field placement and all I can think about is how important this research is to the children and families we serve. Going into this macro placement, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. Every day I learn sometimes new and I am inspired to do macro work. We distributed a survey that looks at disproportionality on the different levels: individual, system, and society. We have a lot of work to do. The question is how do you discuss race in an organization that is having an issue with disproportionality in child welfare?

 Sometimes, I have to try to think in a way that is neutral to people of color. I honestly, feel for my people of color who are being discriminated against and oppressed. Now I have to come up with recommendations to help address disproportionality.

Recommendations we already have are:
  • A training on implicit bias (normalize it and don’t make it about race)
  • Activities such as self-reflection, icebreakers, and allowing people to to have discussion
  • Training in schools, and police department about disproportionality
  • Have people listen to CPS phone calls
  • Support Groups for workers
  • Find ways to increase client engagement
  • Raise awareness about disproportionality
  • Having more family partnership meetings
  • Partnership with other organizations
  • Interfacing with the community more in a positive light
  • Cultural brokers
  • Cultural competent mandated reporter training
  • Having intensive training for staff
  • In-house trainings

Any suggestions? Let's have a discussion. Please comment below.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Implicit Bias in Child Welfare

In the child welfare system there is an over-representation of minorities. We can look at the history of the United States to understand the racial tension. I was reading an article entitled "Implict Bias in the Child Welfare, Education and Mental Health System" by Michael Harris and Hannah Benton. Recently, I took the Harvard Implicit Bias test and I wasn't too surprise at my test, but I have not taken all of them. You can take the different tests at:

No matter if you are in the helping profession, it is good to be aware of bias because we all have them. The problem is when the implicit bias affects your work and decisions that  are being made about the lives of our children.

Key points in the article:

  • Black families are most severely over-represented about three times the rate of White families. 
  • Various decision makers determine the outcome of a child welfare proceeding; whether a case is referred, screened-in, investigated, and substantiated 
  • The research indicates the various points where decision makers could unconsciously rely on racial biases about minority families when reviewing the facts of a case and that will lead to subjective case review and evaluation. 
  • There is not any evidence to suggest that Black children were abused more severely than White children
  • Socioeconomic status may not be the determining factor in child welfare case outcomes but that race plays a significant role
  • A study showed Black children were twice as likely to be placed in foster care in counties where they were a small proportion of the total population when compared to counties where Black children are comprised the majority 
  • Further research is needed to determinate how to avoid racial bias impacting those discretionary decisions. 
Let's have a discussion on what can we do on each system level to eliminate these racial biases and disproportionality in child welfare?

Monday, November 2, 2015

Fatherless Towns

About a week ago I came across a video with Lisa Ling talking to Steve Harvey about an episode she did looking at the fatherhood program, and the father daughter dance in Richmond, Virginia. As soon as I heard the words Richmond, Virginia. I immediately searched for the episode. This episode left me in tears because most of the fathers sold drugs in order to provide for their families. One of the strengths of the video is  definitely the positive impact the fatherhood program in the jail leaves on the father. They are able to look at life through a different lens.

 I noticed that most of them do not have a GED or a high school diploma. I think it's a perfect example of the New Jim Crow and the school to prison pipeline. So check out the video and leave comments of what you thought of the video.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


If you have been reading my blog, you will notice there are different topics I talk about all relating to child welfare and minorities. Last night, in my child and youth social policy class I was listening to a classmate present on comprehensive sex education classes. Well, I started to think about how important is it to provide education on communication and relationships. In society, we communicate in a lot of ways through phone, face to face, email, text messaging, social media, Skype. We now have so many ways to obtain knowledge.

So I started to think, how often do children and parents communicate? I have worked with families from different backgrounds and I have often wondered. How are they taught about relationships and communication? Does everyone know how important communication is? Do we realize how important human relationships are?

Human relationships are so important that we need to learn how to value them and also distinguish what is healthy and unhealthy. I can't remember a time where I was taught how to effective communication or how to have a healthy loving relationship with others.

These things matter, these things need to be taught because everyone doesn't naturally know how to be an effective communicator.

A few weeks ago, I was talking to someone about communication and giving examples on how we can miss a lot in communication. We will hold grudges and not be open to listen to one another.

Everyone should attend a class that focuses on effective communication and how to have healthy relationships. If we teach these classes early and in the schools. We can reduce a lot of issues and social problems. Think about when people do not communicate their needs, issues, and wants. Meditate on how it feels when you can't voice your opinion. Think about how clients feels when they are in their situations and feel like no one hears them. Communication can help start the conversation and set a lot of people free.

Thank you for reading.