I am thankful for the turnout and the interest at last week's Grandview United meeting, in helping abused and neglected children. The response of several people there was heartening. The Lower Valley has a sense of community that encouraged me.
The supervisor of the Sunnyside office of DCFS, Dorene Perez, has led her staff in reaching out to relatives of abused and neglected children for placements and team with community stakeholders. As a result, children and parents are receiving the necessary services so that they can be safely reunified more quickly and with better outcomes.
This sets the stage for what I was trying to convey at last week's Grandview United meeting. Our system has succeeded in removing children to safety from harmful situations. Our state system has failed at consistently actively engaging parents, relatives and parent support groups across the state. But, I think one of our successes is that we have kept children referred to us safe.
The structure offered by the Family to Family initiative focuses on important outcomes we are trying to achieve for our children. They include:
• More placements with relatives.
• More placements with brothers and sisters.
• A shorter length of stay in out of home care.
• Less institutional care.
• More foster care homes and better support for those homes.
• More children served by their own families.
• An increase in family reunifications.
This focused approach helps us do a better job when we do safety planning. We will still have the responsibility in decision making, but we do want families and community members to be involved in providing valuable input and information. Providing a structure for consistent and accurate information allows for better planning.
Corey Russell's article in the Friday, June 15, edition of the Daily Sun News, entitled "Family to Family features new approach to dealing with Lower Valley's abused children," makes the point that children in foster and relative care need support from all of us.
/s/ Brian Cox, Region 2, Family to Family coordinator, Department of Children and Family Services, Yakima