In January 2019, we hosted a two-week preservice training for our 18 new Foster America fellows. Cohort 3 first convened in Silver Spring, MD during the week of January 7th for an on-boarding curriculum that included cohort introductions, primers on child welfare and design thinking, and local site visits and reflection. Highlights of the first week included:
Personal stories from a panel of foster care alumni
Remarks by Rafael Lopez, former commissioner of the national Administration on Children, Youth, & Families and Foster America board member
Visit to Baltimore County Department of Social Services, including a “day in the life” presentation by local caseworkers and dinner with Maryland’s Deputy Secretary, Randi Walters
Introduction to design thinking with faculty member Jessica Mason of Social Impact Studio
Introduction to adaptive leadership with faculty member Jeff Lawrence of Organizational Agility Advisors
Fellows spent the next week at their host agencies, beginning to meet local stakeholders and collecting baseline system data.
We reconvened with the Cohort 3 fellows from January 22-25 in Montgomery, AL for a second and final week of national preservice training, which doubled as a quarterly convening for our Cohort 2 fellows. This week included a visit the National Memorial of Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum, a powerful opportunity for our fellows to consider the history of racial inequality and economic injustice in the United States. We approached this visit as a chance to confront the ongoing legacy of slavery, lynching, and racial segregation in America, and reflect on how this legacy shaped our society and public systems, hoping to strengthen our team and fellows’ abilities to contribute to a more just future. Particularly given Foster America’s mission to change outcomes for children and families served by the national child welfare system, we designed our visit to help us and our fellows consider how our nation’s history of oppression and racial terror and trauma remain present in the child welfare system today. Other highlights of this training week included:
Remarks by Doug Nelson, former President and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Remarks by Dr. Carol Spigner about the history of child welfare
Presentation by Paul Vincent about Alabama’s child welfare system
Capstone impact presentations by Cohort 2 fellows
We look forward to sharing additional thoughts in a future blog post about the visit to the National Memorial of Peace & Justice and our commitment to addressing the inequities of the child welfare system.