The mission of the Diversity Task Force is to increase awareness about the benefits of diversity to individuals and organizations engaged in child welfare practices through communication, advocacy, and education. The Task Force also provides leadership and guidance to organizations that are committed to increasing cultural competence.
The Diversity Task Force holds bi-monthly meetings that are “working sessions” during which work on projects are undertaken. The meetings occur from 10 am to 2 pm at The Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center or via WebEx. Once a year, The Diversity Task Force engages in a one day planning retreat in which needs are assessed and new projects for the upcoming fiscal year are identified.
If you are interested in joining the Diversity Task Force, please contact Cindy Gore at the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or Cindy Milian at email@example.com
“Diversity means all the ways we differ. Some of these differences we are born with and cannot change. Anything that makes us unique is part of this definition of diversity”
Human Trafficking Prevention Month
Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. This crime occurs when a trafficker uses force, fraud or coercion to control another person for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or soliciting labor or services against his/her will. Child welfare caseworkers can be an invaluable resource in helping communities respond to the human trafficking of children. Children involved with child welfare are at risk for being targeted by traffickers because of their potentially unstable living situations, physical distance from friends and family, traumatic experiences, and emotional vulnerability. Therefore, it is imperative that child welfare caseworkers be at the forefront of efforts to identify, respond to, and prevent human trafficking. This bulletin explores how caseworkers can identify and support children who have been victimized as well as children that are at greater risk for future victimization. It provides background information about the issue, strategies caseworkers can use to identify and support victims and potential victims, and tools and resources that can assist caseworkers.
Black History Month
Racial disproportionality and Disparity in the Child Welfare System. The child welfare community has moved from acknowledging the problem of racial and ethnic disproportionality and disparity in the child welfare system to formulating and implementing possible solutions. As jurisdictions and agencies evaluate their systems to identify where and how disproportionality and disparity are occurring, they are seeking changes that show promise for their own populations.
All young people need healthy and permanent relationships with caring adults, reliable resources and accessible opportunities that will ensure their well-being and success. The Annie E. Casey Foundation Report (Fostering Youth Transitions using Data to Drive Policy and Practice Decisions) highlights state's key demographic data about young people in foster care that can be used to help pinpoint disparities across racial and ethnic lines. The profiles also show whether and how young people are accessing available resources, which can help leaders determine whether changes need to be made to ensure greater awareness of and accessibility to resources such as extended foster care.
Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month
Transition Planning for youth with disabilities: While many youth with disabilities face challenges as they make the transition to adulthood from the child serving system, youth in the child welfare system are particularly vulnerable to poor outcomes. Youth in the child welfare system have many and multiple health and other special needs. Juvenile Law Center has published a second edition of its comprehensive guide to transition planning for youth with disabilities. This guide provides professionals and advocates with information about the legal requirements for meeting the needs of older youth while they are in the child welfare system, and the resources, benefits, and services in the adult-serving system so that they're well prepared when they make the transition to adulthood.
Developing an IEP Transition Plan: For students with disabilities, the transition services available through an Individualized Education Program (IEP) can be an essential source of support on the path to adulthood. Yet too often, youth in foster care or the juvenile justice system fail to receive the individualized transition services they are entitled to under the IDEA, often because they are unaware of the options that are available to them. To address this problem, Juvenile Law Center collaborated with Disability Rights Pennsylvania and Education Law Center to design a toolkit to help transition-age youth and their advocates prepare for IEP meetings and develop strong IEP Transition Plans. The toolkit helps these youth and their advocates actively engage in the transition planning process by allowing them to set goals, identify barriers, and brainstorm possible services in advance of the IEP meeting.
National Child Abuse Prevention Month
In the spring of 1989, a grandmother named Bonnie Finney took a stand against child abuse in Norfolk, Virginia. She tied a blue ribbon on the antenna of her minivan in remembrance of her late grandson and as a signal to her community that child abuse continues to be a devastating social plague.
Her grandson, Michael Wayne "Bubba" Dickenson and his siblings lived an at-risk existence in an abusive home environment. Despite Finney's efforts to intervene on behalf of her grandchildren, his mother's boyfriend murdered three-year-old Bubba. His body was found, bound, beaten and bruised, in a weighted toolbox at the bottom of a canal.
"One day I was just thinking about all the bruises I had seen on my grandchildren," Finney said. "I just decided I was going to tie a blue ribbon on my van. Why blue? I intend never to forget the battered, bruised bodies of my grandchildren. Blue serves as a constant reminder to me to fight for protection for our children."
Finney's personal campaign to raise public awareness of child maltreatment was joined by a Norfolk parent assistance program and a local radio station. Soon, stores, businesses, schools, churches, civic organizations and social service agencies were participating in the campaign and thousands of blue ribbons were displayed in the name of child abuse prevention. The spirit of her blue ribbon grew and inspired a statewide community-based effort to prevent child abuse in every town, every community and every city and county.
Bonnie Finney's simple act of education and remembrance has inspired a nationwide movement and led states throughout the country participate in the campaign by designating the month of April each year Child Abuse Prevention Month.
"The blue ribbon serves as a constant reminder to fight for the protection of children," Finney explained. "We must protect our most precious gift of all - our children. Even if we just change one child's life, it would be worth it. I don't want other parents or grandparents to go through what we've been through. During the month of April, I hope all Americans will wear a blue ribbon, put one on their cars, give them to friends and tell anyone who asks what it means. You may save a child's life."