by Elizabeth Gibbons
Mahoning County Children Services, in Ohio, is training its caseworkers to identify and respond to human trafficking. The training, led by Columbus police, was developed in 2003 to raise consciousness of the crimes and educate criminal justice and social service professionals, those with the most exposure to victims, in appropriate responses. Most victims of trafficking are U.S. citizens, and many are children. Caseworkers and police are often responsible for pulling victims out of a life of abuse. Human trafficking affects whole communities, and it is important that there is community-wide response and engagement to ensure the health and safety of individuals who have experienced trafficking. Let’s remember this as we enter April, which is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Several Nebraska state senators recently wrote an opinion piece, published in The Lincoln Star, disparaging the State Senate’s budget that pitted children’s health against women’s health. In it, they state that they will not choose between the two as they are inextricably linked, saying that “a healthy mom is a healthy family”. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts has attempted to make stand-alone women’s health clinics ineligible for Title X grants, which would fund preventative health services. The argument is misunderstood as a battle over abortion, but Title X is prohibited from funding any abortion services due to the Hyde Amendment. The budget would disproportionately affect women and their families who are low-income. Governor Ricketts also attempted to veto increased funding for child welfare services in the 2017 budget; that veto was overridden by the senators authoring the Star opinion piece.
Child welfare workers in Klamath Falls, Oregon, are going door to door handing out information about becoming a foster parent and having one-on-one conversations to answer any questions new recruits or interested parents might have. In February, there were 120 new foster homes registered with the county, but compared to the 300 foster children still waiting for placement, that wasn’t enough. Child welfare employees took it upon themselves to engage with the community and increase their number of registered homes. This direct action is an example of good practice that allows child welfare workers to connect with those most often served by the Department of Human Services. DHS staff become involved in the lives of those they work with, thus creating more robust relationships and better results. To supplement these direct action campaigns, DHS also hosts workshops with the intent of educating those new to the program and retaining established foster homes. The results are tangible, with new families becoming registered every year and decades-long foster parents speaking at events and trainings.
MA’O is an organic farm on the island of Oahu working to grow strong and resilient citizens who will become the next leaders in their communities—and to grow high-quality produce. Waianae, the region surrounding the farm, is one of the most economically challenged areas in Hawaii, and the farm’s interns are all native Hawaiians. MA’O was created by Kukui Maunakea-Forth to provide the youth in her community with cooperation, accountability, and leadership skills, as well as college tuition. This remarkable program is changing the face of the Waianae community. You can read more about it here.
Elizabeth Gibbons is CWLA’s editorial intern. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.