Earlier this month the District of Columbia finally emerged from the LaShawn A. class action lawsuit filed on behalf of children in foster care back in 1989.
From the perspective of today, it is hard to remember the financial challenges the District faced in the 1980s and how under resourced many agencies, including the child welfare system, were. There weren't enough social workers and those workers had neither the resources they needed nor often appropriate policies to follow. Children suffered. This recap describes what happened to Demerick, a three year old who was one of the named plaintiffs in the case:
He was initially placed in a short-term emergency care facility, where he remained for three years, despite repeated pleas from facility staff to move him to a foster home. During his three years at this facility, no worker from the Department ever visited him. In the nearly two years after Demerick’s case goal was changed to adoption, the Department had done virtually nothing to effectuate the adoption, leaving Demerick languishing in “emergency” care.
To read any summary of the LaShawn case is to be reminded of the many steps forward and back, plans agreed to and when not met re-negotiated.
My introduction to child welfare came with the appointment of the first General Receiver in 1995. One takeaway from my years working in the Receivership was a belief that a little flexibility and openness to new approaches could result in many more (especially older) children finding adoptive families. That started a path that led years later to the founding of Family & Youth Initiative.
The end of the LaShawn case is a reminder that change is possible and systems can improve. But there is still work to do, including to improve outcomes for the too many teens who do not find permanency but remain in foster care until they "age out." These are the youth for whom DCFYI continues to make change.
We are grateful to all of you who have joined with us to help these older children find family. Thank you,
Saturday July 17,12-2 pm
Test your skills as we gather outdoors to play board and card games.
Saturday August 7, 12 - 2 pm
Have fun with teens while learning new photography skills.
As DCFYI continues to slowly open up and being mindful of ongoing covid-related concerns, we are keeping event attendance low and prioritizing unmatched teens and adults. Please contact Chanelle for information and to register for events.
Events are on the DCFYI website calendar.
Volunteer Training Session
Training session on relationship boundaries for DCFYI host families and mentors who are matched with a teen. Wednesday, June 23, 6-7:30 pm
This session is also the kick-off to an ongoing volunteer support group to be facilitated by social worker Dianna McFarlane.
RSVP on the website calendar.
Celebrating a birthday?
Give teens in foster care the gift of family by creating a Facebook fundraiser for DCFYI in honor of your special day.
Follow these quick and easy instructions.
Comings and Goings
Operations Coordinator Julie Kennedy will be leaving us later this month. We are so grateful for all she's done to improve our processes and put new systems in place and wish her the best as she moves on to a new position.
And that means we are hiring. If you know a super organized go getter looking for a part-time position, please share this information with them. The position is open until filled.
We were deeply saddened to learn of the death last weekend of Clark Ray. Clark and his husband Aubrey Dubra were early and generous DCFYI volunteers. (This photo of Aubrey and Clark was taken at an event at the Building Museum back in 2010, before they met the one of their four sons who is a former DCFYIer.) Clark's death leaves a huge hole in the lives of his family, a wide circle of friends, and high school athletes across the District through his work as Executive Director of the DC State Athletic Association. He will be missed.