Article and Photos Courtesy of County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency
The County of San Diego and Voice & Viewpoint last Wednesday, Oct. 19, joined together for a one-hour town hall that addressed issues surrounding Child Welfare Services (CWS) in the region and in particular with African American families.
The virtual town hall was moderated by Voice & Viewpoint Publisher Dr. John Warren and County Health and Human Services Executive Director Nick Macchione.
The presentation was led by Dr. Kim Giardina, director of CWS, and also included from the County Alfredo Guardado, assistant director of CWS, Dr. Keisha Clark, program coordinator of CWS Office of Equity, Elly Chung, Protective Services Program Manager of CWS, Elizabeth Bustos, HHSA agency equity liaison, and Crystal Skerven, central regional community coordinator for HHSA Department of Homeless Solutions and Equitable Communities.
After welcoming and stage-setting remarks from Macchione and Dr. Warren, Dr. Giardina went through a brief presentation that covered the efforts child welfare has been making to address racial disproportionality and disparities within the child welfare system that have negatively impacted African American families.
Dr. Giardina shared the outcomes of the County’s work over the last 10 years, specifically the decrease in children entering care, the changes in kin placement and the demographic information regarding CWS workforce.
Also emphasized by Dr. Giardina during the conversation was the need for CWS to repair relationships with communities and that CWS needs communities to help reimagine and redefine an equitable child well-being system.
For the rest of the hour, the discussion was wide–ranging with moderation provided by Dr. Warren and Macchione.
Among the topics covered was an organizational shift to focus on strengthening families to ensure they never have contact with child welfare in the first place. CWS is embarking on this transformation to invest in prevention by partnering with community-based organizations and the community for family strengthening, minimizing the use of family separation and utilizing foster care only when it is absolutely necessary and for the shortest time possible.
Also discussed were changes in practices, such as reviewing CWS policies through a race and equity lens and in a manner that addresses unconscious bias. Doing so is necessary in order to address overrepresentation of African American children entering foster care compared to the general population, and what CWS is doing to improve children being placed with relatives and helping them to connect with their family members. This change in practice includes education and training of CWS staff.
For more information about San Diego County Child Welfare Services, call (877) 792-KIDS (5437).
The full video of the town hall and the slide show are available here:
ARVE Error: Mode: lazyload not available (ARVE Pro not active?), switching to normal mode
Two more town halls in this series are upcoming. Behavioral Health Services will be featured on Wednesday, Nov. 16 featuring Director Dr. Luke Bergmann. On Wednesday, Dec. 14, the focus will be Homeless Solutions & Equitable Communities featuring Barbara Jiménez, Community Operations Officer. More information and registration is available at bit.ly/VoiceTownHall.
- Dr. Kim Giardina
Director, Child Welfare Services
- Alfredo Guardado
Assistant Director, Child Welfare Services
- Dr. Keisha Clark
Program Coordinator, CWS Office of Equity
- Elly Chung
Protective Services Program Manager, Child Welfare Services
- Elizabeth Bustos
Agency Equity Liaison, Health and Human Services
- Crystal Skerven
Central Regional Community Coordinator, Department of Homeless Solutions and Equitable Communities