Volume III | April 21, 2021

The Good Stuff in Child Welfare
Welcome to The Good Stuff in Child Welfare!
Our team at the Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice, & Research recognizes that between the all too frequent and grim child welfare stories that make us teary-eyed, clenched-fisted, and faint-hearted, there are inspiring accomplishments and heartening endeavors taking place all over this country at every level of practice. To elevate and promote these encouraging stories, we are pleased to bring you this monthly newsletter emphasizing news stories only about “The Good Stuff” from the broad field of child welfare. This month, the stories we highlight from around the nation show an ongoing commitment from diverse stakeholders to positively impact people whose lives are touched by the child welfare system. We hope this read gives you a few moments of hopefulness and a sense of possibility.
If there's something you'd like to see here, shoot us an email. Know someone who could use a little Good Stuff in Child Welfare? Send them a copy! We hope you love it as much as we do.
This Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Nurse and Foster Mom Wins $100,000 to Help Foster Kids Separated from Their Siblings
Samii Emdur did not set out to be an “overachiever.” After her 9-to-5 job at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, she works on ensuring that siblings separated due to foster care get to reunite for one week each summer. Emdur runs Camp To Belong River Valley, an overnight camp exclusively for separated sibling groups. Her efforts were recently recognized by the Pilot Pen G2 Overachievers Grant, which celebrates those who go above and beyond their 9-to-5 role to make the world a better place. Emdur is using the $100,000 from Pilot Pen to strengthen Camp To Belong River Valley and increase the number of children served. The first in-person camp was in 2019 and brought together 20 campers from seven family groups. Due to the pandemic, the next in-person camp will be August 2022. Camp To Belong River Valley serves siblings separated by foster care between the ages of 7 and 18 in the greater Philadelphia area, including New Jersey. All of the counselors who “work” at Camp To Belong River Valley volunteer their time. Emdur says: “I want the day to come that our camp does not need to exist. That means that I’ve done my job advocating that siblings shouldn’t be separated.” For more information about Camp To Belong River Valley, visit: www.ctbrivervalley.org. 

Young Adults That Have Been in Foster Care Can Now Get Extra COVID-19 Relief
Arizona is ahead of many other states in the development of a plan to disburse money allocated by the federal COVID-19 Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act to current and former foster youth. According to the Arizona Department of Child Safety (AZDCS), anyone who was in foster care at age 14 or older and is currently age 14 through 26 and qualifies for extra support during the pandemic can contact them by email or directly apply for funding online. Arizona’s COVID-19 relief funding can support current and former foster youth with housing, education, employment services and more.  

Nation’s Largest Evangelical Adoption Agency Will Allow Same-Sex Parents
After ten years of debate, the country’s biggest evangelical adoption and foster care agency, Bethany Christian Services, will start placing youth with LGBTQ families. The agency decided that it was time to put the needs of children ahead of their own religious beliefs, concluding that it is in children's best interests to be placed with LGBTQ couples rather than remain in need of loving homes. Check out this article to learn more about how Bethany Christian Services is prioritizing the needs of the children they serve.  

8 States Join Learning Network Supporting Child and Family Well-Being Throughout The Pandemic
The National Governors Association and Casey Family Programs have recently launched the 2021 Child and Family Well-Being Learning Cohort, consisting of eight states who will work with diverse stakeholders to assess needs, explore challenges affecting multiple states, and strategize solutions in child welfare responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The cohort meets regularly on a monthly basis throughout the year and remains open to additional states for participation. Read more about this important collaborative to improve child abuse and neglect prevention and support child and family well-being here.

Casey Family Programs Statement on Confirmation of Congresswoman Deb Haaland as the 54th United States Secretary of the Interior
Last month, New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland was appointed as Secretary of the Interior. She is the very first Native American to be appointed as a cabinet secretary in U.S. history. Her experience as a mother, a child of parents who served in the military, and a community leader suggests that she understands the challenges facing so many children and families today. This is especially important for Native American children and families, who have long been overrepresented and disproportionately impacted in the nation’s child welfare system. Casey Family Programs congratulates Secretary Haaland and recognizes her great commitment to supporting Tribal Nations across North America. 

National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Launch Innovative Bench Card Resource Center for Judiciary
The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) just released a “Bench Card Resource Center” to support the work of family and juvenile court judges. This searchable online database provides easy access to information and best practices on a range of matters, including child welfare. The cards include topics from “Engaging Youth in the Courtroom” to “Termination of Parental Rights Hearing” which, among other things, reminds judges to ask themselves how they have considered family perspective and included opportunities for them to be heard, respected, and valued. The NCJFCJ hopes to improve judicial decision-making and improve the lives of families and children with these new resources for judges.

The Field Center team would like to thank the staff and students who brought this newsletter together. Specifically, we recognize our Spring 2021 students Chih McDermott, Sirui Chen, Daphne Chimbel, Jennifer Kwon, and Jessi Nguyen for providing readers with this uplifting content. Many thanks to our Program Manager Sarah Wasch for editing and our Administrative Coordinator Felicia Saunders for handling design and distribution. Special thanks to our Managing Faculty Director, Dr. Johanna Greeson for her idea to curate the “good news stories” happening in child welfare!