Lutheran Services in America hosted a webinar on November 1st to introduce their new toolkit entitled “Advancing Equitable Outcomes in Child Welfare”. Panelists Julie McCrae, a senior researcher from Chaplin Hall, Samantha Steinmetz, policy analyst from Chaplin Hall, and Renada Johnson, the Senior Director of Children, Youth, and Family Initiatives at LSA, presented.

This toolkit is the product of LSA’s family stabilization initiative, a partnership with Chaplin Hall, and will be released later this month. The panelists discussed the goals and contents of the toolkit, which included directly addressing racial disparities, changing organizational culture and practices, uplifting voices of lived experiences, and mobilizing community assets. They stressed the importance of community engagement on these issues, as they believe that those partnerships are where success lies. Addressing structural barriers to accessing help and getting in front of these issues before kids enter care is paramount to progress in the child welfare system.

Additionally, the toolkit examines effective staffing models, with the presenters talking about hiring from the community, especially those individuals with lived experience in the welfare system, and implementing additional support for staff, as they encounter a lot of difficult situations in the child welfare field. Those with their own experience in the system are better able to empathize with the people they work with, and support for the staff would help combat the high turnover rates, allowing employees to acquire more experience through longer careers and better support the community.

By Rebekah Lawatsch, Policy Intern