An ongoing series of informational entries from the CEO
Our First Blog Entry
November 22, 2021
The Why: Restoration Family Services Creation and Foundation.
Imagine being in a huge pit that every time you moved it seemed to sink you further in. The yelling of your voice only bounced off the walls that seemed to be caving in all around you. The only way for you not to sink further is to remain still, to remain silent, and to just give into the surroundings around you. The vision of Restoration Family Services was conceived in September of 2017. After being in the child welfare system for just under five years in the state of Kansas, which is huge, considering the turnover rate in this field. When a person works for an agency and they have no voice, no power, and no way to choose the steps that will better the outcome for those being served, it creates a feeling of worthlessness. A feeling that you are not doing what God placed you here to do. You see children and families being hurt, judged, and further sinking into addiction, abuse, and trauma. And then you open your eyes, and you say, “What can I do differently? How can the Lord use me for change?” There were many times prior to 2017 that the easy thing to do was run. To change paths and accept that there is nothing that could be done. But God had a different plan. He used those around me to encourage, edify and just lift my arms up when I grew weary. The story of the boy and the starfish became the foundation of the story of RFS. We may not be able to save them all, but we can help in the healing and restoration through Christ one person and family at a time. After giving notice due to what was unethical processes at the last employer, God laid on me the desire to just step up and change what the “way we have always done it” mentality and practice. Do not accept it as final, because the only one that has, is, and will be the same forever is God. With this realization and the support of family and friends the Lord guided the steps and RFS (Restoration Family Services) was formed. The vision has and will be to first put God before all. He is the true healer and restorer. If he is not the center and foundation of the change, then it is fruitless and void. There will be no eternal change that occurs. This can be witnessed in my own life. My beginnings were full of trauma, poverty, abuse, and hopelessness. I know all too well what most of these children in foster care feel and experience. There is almost no trauma that I have not experienced before becoming an adult. From these experiences it has given me the foundation to understand what it takes for change to happen and what supports, and resources are needed to help in sustaining these changes. For far too long the resources needed to help children and families have been missing. These resources include therapy, access to community resources that include health, dental, trainings, education, and even basic supports for families to remain together. There are many different services and supports that families can be given to remain whole, and it is up to those serving to help connect them to these resources. There are no excuses for those given the opportunity to serve to not give the best Christ like service they can provide. Anything less is a disservice to not only those being impacted, but to oneself. RFS foundation is Christ. Upon this the vision is to provide a holistic service for children and families. All services that they will need should be encompassed in one place. It should not be about revenue. It should not be about foster parents growing their families. It should not be about egos. It should be about helping heal and restore those vulnerable populations that can not do it alone. It should be about the children who have no voice and no choice in this entire scheme of things. It should be about the parents who 99 percent of the time are feeling the loss just as severe as their children. These parents were once those same children.
Self Reflection: When do they move from the child you wanted to help to the birth parent that is unredeemable?
RFS First VLOG: RFS FOUNDATION
Getting Comfortable with BEING Uncomfortable
Human nature is to not allow oneself, when possible, to be uncomfortable. If given the opportunity of sleeping on the floor or in a nice comfy bed, many of us would choose the bed. It is not always wrong to choose comfortability, but it is when it comes to justice, equality, equity, and just doing what’s right. The reality is if that bed was full of bedbugs and you could sleep on the floor in another house, is minor comfort worth the loss of total comfort? Being the first minority founder of a child placing agency in KS has been difficult. It has been exhausting and a never-ending uphill battle a lot of the time. Not only are we advocating for change to happen systemically, but we are also advocating and educating to help change the mind set of people that have become comfortable with racial, gender, and other biases and discrimination. Many times, people refuse to hear, yet alone listen to what has to be said for these disproportionalities to decrease and become nonexistent. To have staff and even prior staff say “Someone was hired because they are black”, “placed in a position because they are black”, or “it is intimidating to have all black leadership” is a perpetuation of the system we ALL should be trying to dismantle. Going as far as to call homes and staff members to sow a seed of division. To allow themselves to be a product of ill intent. The first time this happened, the agency lost 1/3 of its foster homes. Did that stop the agency? NO. Bitterness, unforgiveness, jealousy, envy, call it what you want, but what do you gain by trying to destroy the work of GOD? NOTHING! You may think you feel better or that you are justified, but where is your prayer life at? What is the LORD telling you to do? Are you listening? The only way to get to a place of change is to get uncomfortable, to have those conversations you would not traditionally have. To talk about things, you shift in your seat when discussing. It’s okay to be uncomfortable, but it isn’t okay to allow that comfortability to keep you from doing what is right. If you are impacting children and families in any way, then recognizing your biases, any rooted racism, and anything that would prevent you from providing GODLY like services is important. RFS calling this out as an agency does NOT make us “racist”. It does NOT make us wrong. It means we care enough about children, families, and people to get uncomfortable. We want to dismantle the current thought process by invoking thinking, educating, and equipping those in this state to think and do better. To help families, birth, foster, adoptive or other to achieve their greatest potential. To help these families be healed and restored. To show them the POWER of the ALMIGHTY. To invest in them when they feel hopeless and at the end. We are okay with losing staff and foster homes if their mission does not align with the agency. WHY…. Because that is what is right. Is it comfortable? NO. Is it “business savvy”? NO. We have endured lies, targeting, slander, and misrepresentation of the agency since almost day one. As I mentioned in the first blog, it is easier to run. But GOD didn’t give us a spirit of fear. He is greater and stronger than any thing that could come up against us. So, we will stand, stand strong in the belief that as long as we do what is right, we will be okay. God will see the vision through. Change comes when we push through the easy part. When we don’t back down from adversities and being under fire. Anyone that truly knows me outside of selfish gain for oneself, they know that my heart is for the LORD. That the kids we serve are first in all decisions, then keeping the family’s whole, then supporting those that are choosing to be a part of this system. If we are a part of this by choice, it is our duty and obligation to do what is best for those that do not have a choice. Addiction is real, trauma is real, abuse is real, and brokenness is real. It does not have to be permanent, but it exists. Never say someone is unredeemable or can’t be healed from trauma or brokenness. The journey may be long, but through our LORD and Savior, ALL things are possible.
Self Reflection: How can you truly help those in need, when you aren’t opened to learning their need even at the risk of losing how you currently think or view things?
True Change in KS Child Welfare: Pt. 1
It has taken me a while to just step back and think about what I want to write. I have thought about reducing friction and even backing down from the attacks on the agency, my character, and those that lovingly stand strong to serve children and families. The hardest part in being obedient to God for me, is not LOVE that part is easy, it is not speaking when I want to. Sometimes being still and allowing GOD to guide you is the only option. Though it should be ALL the time. So, through the thought process, I have attempted to seek God and just put Him first. Reality is change is hard for everyone. Getting outside of the generational thinking that has taken place in America for centuries is tough. Many people feel that challenging a system or calling out microaggressions, means that you are calling them racist. To have racist thinking doesn't mean one is racist. It is only when we recognize that systems, laws, policies, and establishments were rooted in racism and superiority, that we can truly impact change and advocate for equity. As a foster or adoptive parent, case worker, supervisor, or any place you sit within the child welfare system, have you asked yourself and done the research of "why" child welfare was created? How was it created? Who made the first policies? Who decided what was or wasn’t, okay? What cultures were taken into consideration when these things were created? How do you daily perpetuate the thinking and belief systems that were established many years ago? How often do you ask someone outside your familiar group of people, how do you navigate through your daily journey? We know not because we ask not. For many years I have learned to navigate through my environment, and I can count on my fingers how many times someone has asked me what it is like to be a black professional female in America. It is easy for someone that doesn't deal with racism every single day of their life to say, "it doesn't exist", or "you are looking for it", or "you only think about race". This is because you don't have to think about race. You don't have to see it in almost every interaction. You my dear, have the privilege of being you. If a black professional can tell you daily how they experience racism, lies, slander, and the struggle with those in power, would you believe them? Would you be able to ask how our children and families are being impacted because of these biases? Would you be able to say I am okay with what is occurring in my state on a daily basis? Would you be able to say that you would want your family treated the same? Only when we begin having these conversations, can we ALL band together and create a solid equitable system that truly serves all children and families equally, equitably, and justly. We can’t keep saying that someone else will change it. The change starts with you, me and anyone else with a voice or avenue to stand up for truth. What diversity exist in your neighborhood, your school district, your community of people? What would you change if you were given the power to do so? Would it bother you to know that standards within child welfare are different based on race? That this does not just extend to birth families, but to foster/adoptive families, professionals, agencies? What would you do if you knew details of what happens daily in your state, your county, your town, and sometimes even with the children in your home? Kansas NEEDS change, but how. A huge piece is those holding the power. What are you doing with it? Part 2 will help us all in questioning our possible areas of impact.
Self-Reflection: Have you ever looked at Child Welfare Statistics? If so what stood out to you and how can you help in changing those numbers?