View from the Other Side

For the past few years, I’ve been working on something a bit removed from traditional child welfare. I took what I thought would be a temporary (18 month) position at a college. This break from child welfare was not entirely planned, but turned out to be a great learning experience.

Among other things, I have learned firsthand how former foster youth fare in college settings. It has been a bit of disappointment for many reasons.

From my first contacts with former foster youth, I could see how ill-prepared they were for college and for adult life. I’m not talking about the obvious like managing a budget. I’m talking about EVERYTHING. The idea that financial aid requires multiple steps is often totally foreign to the former foster youth I have met. In fact, the whole notion of regular attendance in classes, following through with assignments, and generally taking responsibility seems like an impossible expectation.

Image result for cap and gownFurthermore, the former foster youth I have met find adult life in general a challenge. Even when it comes to accessing needed assistance available through the foster care system, these young people have been unaware and seemingly unmotivated to seek our resources.

Couch-surfing is the most common living arrangement I have seen. Often this has put young people in dangerous situations, as their choices are poor. Although they often have high aspirations, they are unable to take the steps necessary to achieve their goals.

The other alarming thing I have seen is the lack of interest from higher ed professionals in providing support to this vulnerable population. This is perhaps most alarming. I foolishly thought there would be great interest in this. Instead I have found indifference at best.

We have to do better…..all of us. We need to better prepare young people for adulthood and for career exploration. We need to teach them to be their own best advocate. And persons in education need to understand the challenges faced by former foster youth and work harder to support them.

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Returning soon….

You may have noticed that I haven’t written anything for quite awhile now. It’s not lack of interest–just lack of time! Several projects have kept me hopping.

I will be penning a new post soon. The topic: child welfare workforce.

Stay tuned!

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Copyright Info & Superbowl

It has recently come to my attention that material from this blog has been plagiarized by person(s) and posted on other websites without my permission. Please note that material on the Child Welfare Blog (home page url: may NOT be reprinted without permission.

On a more positive note, please check out my Twitter account (@ckhayek) on Superbowl Sunday for my analysis of enlightened resource allocation.

© 2010-2018 Connie Hayek All Rights Reserved


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Child Welfare Data Dreams

Several weeks ago, the Administration for Children and Families released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking or NPRM as it is known to those working in and with federal rules.!documentDetail;D=ACF-2015-0009-0001 The summary reads (in part) as follows: “This proposed rule will remove the requirement for a single comprehensive system and allow title IV-E agencies to implement systems that support current child welfare practice. It also proposes to establish requirements around design, data quality, and data exchange standards in addition to aligning these regulations with current and emerging technology developments to support the administration of title IV-E and IV-B programs….” To the casual reader, this may not seem like a big deal. To data geeks (myself included) this is a HUGE deal. This NPRM opens the doors to many long-awaited improvements and enhancements to child welfare data collection. Years from now we will look back and commiserate about the limitations of child welfare data collected prior to the (as yet proposed) changes.
I cannot help but imagine the things we will do with child welfare data in the future. I anticipate we will look back and think the ‘data dashboards’ that are popular now were miniscule artifacts compared to the things we will do in the future. In my data dreams, caseworkers will have access to real time data on their success in protecting children and achieving permanency. They will use predictive analytics to select not only the best type of placement and treatment for a child but also the best person to provide this care and treatment. This will be done on their mobile devices, while in the field. No more working through a list of providers, some of whom are less than ideal to handle the specific needs and problems presented. Instead caseworkers will have a short list of providers, including anticipated length of treatment required, from whom to choose.
Meanwhile, supervisors will have real-time data on the outcomes of each caseworker, including details about the types of families each caseworker should be assigned to achieve maximum benefits (in the form of positive outcomes for children and families). They will also know which guardian-ad-litems (GALs) have best represented children and the combination of GAL and caseworker most likely to work together successfully. They will have access to the latest reports from providers and educators, to monitor outcomes in mental health and education. Access to and reporting on health care outcomes will be as easy as clicking a few buttons on the keyboard.

© 2005-2018 Connie Hayek All Rights Reserved

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Critiquing Child Welfare

When it comes to finding fault, there’s never a shortage of people lining up to point fingers and lay blame on failing child welfare systems. The state agency didn’t do enough to protect a child. Inadequate supports are provided to youth aging out of foster care. Reform efforts have failed. We have failed our children.

We have failed our children. Yes, it’s true. Thousands of children in the US are abused….daily. Nearly a half-dozen children die of child abuse daily. A child enters foster care approximately every two minutes in the United States. What is wrong with our child welfare systems; the systems established to protect children? Why can we not figure this out and end child abuse and the need for foster care?

Perhaps we are looking in the wrong places for answers. Perhaps the answers are in our homes, our neighborhoods, our communities. Maybe, just maybe, we need to look at ourselves and ask, what am I doing to protect vulnerable children?mirroring-711926_1280

I’ve previously written on ways to get involved in the child welfare system. If you are one of the thousands shaking your head wondering how we could have failed our children, perhaps you should ask yourself, ‘what have I done to prevent child abuse and the need for children to enter, or stay in foster care?’. You’ve likely heard the saying, ‘if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem‘. Take a look in the mirror. What are you doing to be part of the child welfare solution? What are you doing in your home, your neighborhood, your community, to be a part of the solution?

© 2005-2018 Connie Hayek All Rights Reserved

Posted in Child Welfare, Community Engagement, Foster Care | 1 Comment

Why We Should Care About the Duggar Drama and Why We Should Stop Talking About It

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The exposure of molestation charges involving the reality TV Duggar family (of 19 Kids and Counting), has been the topic of ongoing discussion and debate on social media sites recently. There have been two main camps, those who have reacted … Continue reading

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Healthy Healers: Broken People Can Make the Best Healers

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Recently, a faculty member providing oversight to a mental health program in higher education told me that many of her students had mental health ‘issues’ themselves. It’s a phenomenon known by many in the helping professions–people gravitate towards careers in … Continue reading

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Seven Reasons For a New Child Welfare Degree Program

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Currently, the field of child welfare is in a state of crisis, IMO. A workforce crisis, that is. Nearly every state has experienced significant challenges with recruiting and retaining a highly qualified workforce. This workforce challenge has resulted in child … Continue reading

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Time For a Change: Our Kids Deserve More

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A recent headline reads: Expert: SC Social Services hiring plan “ambitious,” will take longer than a year¹ The article begins with: “The [South Carolina] state child-welfare agency’s plan for hiring [200] more caseworkers is ambitious but will take longer than … Continue reading

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