Our Story - What The 2015 Convening Told Us
During our 2015 national convening, demonstration sites were asked to “tell their story” in creative and unconventional ways. Each site provided their unique perspectives on their mission. Importantly, every site incorporated the stories of the families they serve. Stories of struggle, recovery, family reunification, and their on-going journeys to attain the things we all seek -- healthy families, positive relationships and a sense contributing to their community.
Commissioner Rafael Lopez of the US Administration on Children, Youth and Families introduced himself to the group on Wednesday. He spoke about the importance of COURAGE to break down gate-keeping within ours and other systems in which we work. He also encouraged RISK-TAKING and BRAVELY talking about “lessons learning.” He told us not to wait until the end of the demonstration to share what we are finding because real-time learning can benefit all sites, other programs and impact decisions about program and policy at every level.
He also reminded us that we need to believe in our own success as well as the potential of every family to succeed. This is particularly true for case managers in supportive housing. They are the lynchpins for facilitating recovery among struggling families.
The Commissioner’s themes carried through the entire convening with each and every member of site teams sharing challenges and insights café style.
Peer-to-peer conversations resulted in some common touchstones. For instance, child welfare systems are now thinking about housing before anything else where new tools are very literally putting homelessness and housing first when families come through the door in need of help. We heard there are now connections to housing for the child welfare system that have never existed before, and that families are more and more in the driver’s seat when it comes to case planning. Teams of providers are centered in a non-punitive way on what they want to see families achieve together.
We learned that families, not artificial timelines, are driving services and assessment. We heard things like… “[We have] smaller caseloads with lots of weekly contact with families” and “[We have] re-worked partnerships to re-frame conversation and change business.”
The story of the demonstration that took shape during the convening suggests real progress resulting from collaborative work that is moving the needle in ways that are realizing the goals of family stability and reunification.
The Resource Center would like to thank Commissioner Lopez for his insights and support, and the demonstration sites for their commitment to ensuring the convening reflected their interests and concerns. In addition to co-developing the convening agenda with the Resource Center, the sites took the time to produce and present family stories, videos and presentations that reflected their dedication to the families they serve. Much from these materials will now be used by sites to reach out and make connections to other partners to continue and sustain the demonstration for years to come.
The Resource Center also would like to thank the other presenters who participated throughout the three-day convening:
Debra Lancaster, Director of Strategic Development, New Jersey Department of Children and Families
Ann Oliva, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Needs, Acting Director, Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development
Jasmine Hayes, Policy Director, U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness
Becky Primeaux, Director of the Housing Voucher Management and Operations Division Public and Indian Housing, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Paul DiLorenzo, Senior Director for Strategic Consulting
Casey Family Programs
Pete Earley, Author and CSH Board Member
Michael Pergamit, Senior Fellow, Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population, Urban Institute
Marti Burt, Marla MacDaniel, Maeve Gearing, Urban Institute
Deb De Santis, President and CEO, CSH