The child welfare system provides critical support for families when they are facing a crisis that impacts their ability to safely care for their children. While in-home prevention services support a number of these families, children deemed to be unsafe may be placed with kin or in foster care. The child welfare system then assumes the legal responsibility, with supervision by the courts, to protect and support these children while working with their parents to stabilize and resume safe care.
This responsibility is substantial given the unique nature of each family’s situation and the compounding factors, such as institutional racism and intergenerational poverty, which make it difficult for many families to thrive. By working closely with other systems and centering the voices of those who are most impacted, child welfare services are better able to meet the needs of the young people in their care. Stoneleigh supports collaborative work that strengthens families to maintain their children safely in the home, ensures the well-being of youth in care, and helps older youth in care successfully transition to adulthood.
- Support the safety of youth within the home
The goal of the child welfare system is to help children thrive and remain safely in their homes whenever possible. Research has increasingly demonstrated the trauma that children experience upon removal from their homes. Stoneleigh supports targeted prevention strategies that address the challenges that can lead to children being removed from their families, such as unsafe or unstable housing and parental mental health challenges or substance use. We also invest in supportive services that work to break the intergenerational cycle of trauma.
- Ensure the well-being of youth while in care
Increasingly, child welfare policy has elevated the importance of ensuring the overall well-being of youth. A focus on well-being reinforces the public sector’s responsibility to promote young people’s education, health, and social development. Research demonstrates that young people thrive best in family-based settings and when they remain connected to their siblings, extended families, communities, and broader support networks. Stoneleigh supports cross-system work to ensure these aims, as well as broader efforts to work toward timely and safe reunification for children and their families.
- Meet the unique needs of older youth in care
The transition to adulthood can be especially challenging for young people who are involved in the child welfare system. Adolescents require assistance that addresses their unique needs, particularly those who are pregnant, parenting, identify as LGBTQ, have different abilities, and/or are involved with the youth justice system. Too often, youth who exit care without permanent connections struggle with mental health challenges, unstable housing and homelessness, unemployment, and completing their education. At the same time, they are the best source of knowledge when it comes to understanding their own needs and experiences. We invest in work that elevates the voices of young people and ensures that they leave the system with the robust relationships and supports necessary to become successful adults.