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Meeting Families Where They Are: My Journey to Help Transform Child Welfare
Getting in Focus
From a young age I had the desire to help others.
After moving to Florida, I joined a large hospital and worked to provide substance use treatment services to children ages 13-17. Although I learned a lot, I noticed that many of the kids didn’t improve and often had to return for further care. It was here where I truly learned how much relationships matter and how important it is to meet people where THEY are. At the same time, I was starting my own family, which changed my perspective.
A Life-Changing Opportunity
During my second pregnancy, my agency redirected funding to a new outreach and prevention initiative.
I was offered a life-changing opportunity to work with a local court judge on a Trauma- Informed Court project. This allowed me to streamline care coordination from the courts to behavioral health services and supports for parents and their children involved in child welfare. Sitting in Judge Lynn Tepper’s court, I was amazed by the welcoming environment. It was filled with stuffed animals, books, toys, baskets of healthy snacks, and therapy dogs. I collaborated with Judge Tepper and stakeholders to create a more trauma-responsive community.
Breaking Down Silos
Several months into this role, Judge Tepper informed me about a Community Coordinator position working to implement a national approach called Safe Babies aimed at improving child and family well-being.
After attending an annual Cross Sites Meeting, it opened my eyes about the importance of early intervention, infant mental health, and most importantly, the relational, cross-system collaboration that was breaking down traditional systemic silos.
Although my journey wasn’t straightforward, I consider it an honor to do the work I do every day. The impact of Safe Babies goes beyond individual families and babies – it is also transforming how professionals are working with families, communities, local systems, states and hopefully, one day, across the country.