Leadership Lens

Christine James-Brown

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In this issue of Children's Voice, you will read about the variety of ways people and organizations in the child welfare field are struggling with challenges they must meet in order to ensure improved outcomes for children, youth, and families. "Residential Services in Transition: Meeting the Challenge" (page 10) is the first in a series of articles about how residential facilities are implementing innovative approaches to serving children and youth in need of residential services. Residential services are a key component of the overall system of care, but none of us want children and youth to stay in residential--or any segment of the child welfare system--any longer than necessary. Close public-private coordination, funding mechanisms that support a new service delivery model, agreement on common goals and outcomes, willingness to share best practices, and leadership are elements of the transformation necessary across the entire spectrum services. We are hoping that this series of articles will stimulate discussion around the importance of change not just in residential services, but in all aspects of the child welfare system and other systems addressing the needs of vulnerable children, youth, and their families.

And speaking of families, how do we determine what makes a family? This question is explored in our cover story about gay adoption on page 18. Although this article focuses on the specific issue of gay adoption, it is, in fact, the larger issue of what constitutes a family that we must ultimately address. The increasing diversity of our population brings with it different definitions of family and child rearing; the variety of family arrangements in our society drives the need for more clarity. This question has important implications for the issue of disproportionality and how we approach kinship care. The answer to the question seems easier when we ask ourselves what setting will result in the best outcomes for children and youth.

"A Child's Rights" (page 30) reminds us that we have a long way to go to ensure that children are our highest priority. It is also a reminder that we are part of a larger world with increasing mobility. We must embrace all of the world's children as our own while working strategically to address the special needs and interests of the children for whom we are directly responsible.

The Management Matters article, "Balancing Work and Life" (page 24), explores the challenges we face as employees to make sure we find the right balance between our personal, family, and professional responsibilities. As leaders of organizations that are resource poor, the article is an important reminder that we need to find ways to give our employees opportunities and encouragement to find that balance.

These articles highlight the layers of challenges we all face in this important field. At CWLA, we hope we can provide the information, tools, and opportunities for peer-to-peer sharing that are so important as you deal with these challenges. I hope you will note and make use of the tools and resources that are mentioned in each of the articles.

In recognition of the timing of this issue of Children's Voice, I want to take the opportunity to wish all of you a happy and healthy holiday season.

To comment on this article, e-mail voice@cwla.org.

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