One On One: Questions and Answers with CWLA Staff

Adrianne Lewis

Director, Southern Region

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What is your role at CWLA?

Iam the director of the southern region, which encompasses 12 states in the southeast part of the country. I am a membership services specialist, which means I get in contact with members, make sure they are engaged in CWLA's work and aware of the issues that are going on in our government affairs division, and learn about the issues that they face in their states and cities. I also coordinate activities and events, such as webinars, regional trainings, and regional retreats. The purpose of these events is to allow agencies in the southeast the opportunity to network, get to know each other, and talk about issues facing child welfare agencies. If an agency has a question or needs more information about CWLA, it is my job to give that agency the information and resources it needs.

Have you done any webinars recently?

Yes, I just finished a webinar hosted by the National Advisory Committee on Prevention, Protection, and Family Services, which focused on home visitation. Home visitation is a fairly new program that is funded by the federal government. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148) that was recently passed is giving a lot of money to states interested in providing home visitation services. The webinar was designed to help members become familiar with Home Visitation 101. For example, what is home visitation? And what would it look like in listeners' programs? It focused on three different models that deliver home visitation services differently: Healthy Families, Parents as Teachers, and Nurse Family Partnerships. Experts explained the three models to make sure that member agencies are informed about all about the models and how they would fit into their already existing programs. I have PowerPoint slides on the different models and the policy information available if readers are interested in learning more about home visitation.

What is the Fostering Healthy Connections peer mentoring project?

Fostering Healthy Connections is a project funded by the New York Life Foundation to help children who are currently in foster care receive mentoring from former foster youth. CWLA received this grant in 2007 and piloted the project with Father Maloney's Boys' Haven program in Louisville, Kentucky. After we did the pilot with Boys' Haven, we saw that it was a success and opened up an application process to member agencies across the country; we currently have seven member agencies that are involved. Some of the agencies did not have mentoring programs at the time they began, so it's very exciting that this grant allowed them to establish a program for mentoring in their agencies!

The program matches up youth in foster care with those who formerly were in the foster care program. The former youth can be a member of a particular agency or community partnership. The goal is to really help the current foster youth have someone that they can talk to about their goals and receive advice from someone they can identify with about how to achieve those goals.

What I've been doing with the project is helping member agencies to identify good matches for the mentees and good places to look for partnerships in the community, such as places of worship or within the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. I've also been doing program site visits to see exactly how the matches have been working out. I look to see what improvements we can make to the project to make sure that the mentors and mentees maximize this opportunity to get to know each other and to learn from one another.

The project ends this year, so we are thinking about having an end-of-the year meeting with the youth who were in the mentor-mentee matches and also other youth who are in the foster care system to learn more about different resources and help them with their youth development. This will give participants the opportunity to meet others from the foster care system and work with one another to achieve their goals. While the grant is about to end, the mentoring programs that have been established during the Fostering Healthy Connections project will continue.

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