Stoneleigh Fellow Kathleen Creamer outlines the many ways Community Legal Services Family Advocacy Unit works to honor and nurture the connections of the families they serve.
The conversation about child welfare is changing, both locally and nationally. While over 440,000 children are in foster care on any given day in our country, society is beginning to question a model that for far too long has seen family separation as the solution to poverty and instability. In the words of our federal Children’s Bureau leadership, we are beginning to identify the “quieter, more far-reaching tragedy” of unnecessary family separation. We are beginning to ask why we have designed a system that waits to help until after, instead of before, a child is harmed. We are beginning to recognize that separating families causes significant trauma, and often undermines the well-being of the very children we seek to protect. We are beginning to understand the unique harms that over-reliance on foster care has on communities of color. We are beginning to recognize that connection is the key to addressing the trauma of separation, and that even when they must be separated for their safety, children do best when we honor and nurture their family connections.