Former Stoneleigh Fellow Kathleen Creamer authored an article for the Children’s Bureau Express that discusses what the child welfare system can do to reduce loneliness and improve relationships within families.
Recently, and especially during this time of the COVID-19 crisis, there has been increasing attention paid to the very real threat of loneliness within our families and communities. Loneliness has been linked to catastrophic public health outcomes, including fatality, and may be more harmful to a person’s health than smoking or obesity. Despite this, our child welfare system has been slow to respond to, and in many ways creates and exacerbates, the serious threat of loneliness facing our families.
Nowhere is this more evident than in our traditional approach to foster and birth family relationships. Although over the past several years we’ve begun to move the needle in my own city, the reality for so many parents and children across the country is a pattern of child welfare interventions that separate families and compound the effects of trauma, grief, and isolation by depriving them of the one thing that might help them cope: connection.