By Nancy Hafer, Program Director, Human Services
Colleagues and friends,
A significant and extraordinary opportunity is upon us. Following on the heels of an unprecedented global pandemic, inequality and injustice for black lives in the U.S. is being uncovered and highlighted, once again in our society. COVID-19 upended our lives in early 2020 and everyone in our community has been working together to address new issues in delivering key services to youth and families. I want to applaud everyone for making hard sacrifices and for learning a new way to do our work with COVID-19. I could not be prouder to work with all of you.
Amidst this public health crisis came the even more grave and even more serious issue of the ongoing systemic racism in the United States. With each day, the nation is presented with unremitting evidence of inequality and injustice among black lives. We were so fortunate to have Dr. Jaiya John, freedom worker, author and poet, as our keynote speaker for the Partnerships for Well-Being “Virtual Mini Institute” at UC Davis on June 3. He spoke about the infection of racism and the public outcry for the end to police brutality against black people. He admonished all of us to say the words, “I, too, have been infected by supremacy” daily; to get comfortable with them, to know they are true. I cannot do justice to summarizing his talk, but for those who missed it you can listen to his podcast, I Will Read for You, or grab a copy of his new book, Freedom. My thanks to Dr. John for providing me with the opportunity to acknowledge my own white privilege, the opportunity to become more aware, the opportunity to talk to my friends and colleagues about race and inequality and the opportunity to listen, educate myself and commit to supporting change. I look forward to taking this opportunity with all of you. I encourage all of you to ask hard questions of me and of yourselves and to work together to find change over the short term and, most importantly, over the long term.
UC Davis Human Services is seeking out more opportunities to address systemic racism in the systems that serve children and families involved in probation and/or child welfare services. Systemic racism isn’t something police must confront alone; we have some work to do ourselves. According to the California Child Welfare Indicators Project, in 2019 (January through December) in the state of California, 2.5 per 1,000 white children entered the child welfare system as opposed to 10.1 black children and 8.5 Native American children (per 1,000)—visit this web page for more information. This disproportionate number of children of color who enter the child welfare system is not new; the child welfare system has long been challenged to understand and act on racial disproportionality and subsequent disparities in outcomes. Children of color not only enter care at a higher rate than white children, but also stay in the system longer—with permanency harder to reach.
While Wraparound providers are not responsible for the removal of children and placement into foster care, we know systemic racism is part of our lives and our work. You will soon start seeing more learning opportunities on anti-racism and racial equity.
And right now, I know that my voice is not the one I should be highlighting, there are so many voices to lift up, please consider (if you haven’t already) spending some time reading the words of people of color. Visit the Black Lives Matter website, follow Martin Luther King III on Instagram (@OfficialMLK3), follow Ijeoma Oluo on Twitter or listen to Blair Imani’s podcast, America Did What?. Better yet, send me your favorites and I’ll add them to my list!
And, if you’re looking, here are several fantastic anti-racism resources.
- Justice in June
- Maintaining Professionalism in the Age of Black Death is a Lot
- Black Emotional and Mental Health (BEAM)
- White Ally Toolkit: Message to White Allies from a Black Anti-Racism Expert: You’re Doing It Wrong
- Best Practices for Offering Allyship and Support to Black Coworkers
- American Public Human Services Association Call to Action
- Awake to Woke to Work: Building a Race Equity Culture
- National Child Welfare Workforce Institute Racial Equity Resources
We hope you will also take the time to explore the articles in our July 2020 edition of the Wraparound Connections blog. With COVID-19 knocking us off course in spring, we've got a lot to catch you up on! In addition to all of the terrific articles, I wanted to call particular attention to the Lynne Jones story.
Lynne has been a driving force behind the Wraparound Connections newsletter, and the RCFFP for many years, and while I hope she stays with the RCFFP for many more years, I want to turn the spotlight on her for a few minutes this month and share her Wraparound story.