Earlier this month, our strategic planning committee heard from Lyman Letgers, senior director at Casey Family Programs, as part of our ongoing advocacy efforts at the state and national level. Mr. Letgers is currently consulting with the South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) as one of several individuals developing the agency’s child well-being system.
Two years ago, federal legislation passed that made significant changes to the child welfare system, including federally mandated changes to statewide systems of care. The act, titled the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA), was the first sweeping child welfare legislation to pass Congress in decades and put an emphasis on prevention services, prioritizing placement of foster youth in foster homes or with kinship families and changed several funding processes and added additional licensure requirements for program operations.
In addition to the passage of this federal legislation, the state of South Carolina entered into a lawsuit after a national advocacy organization sued the state based on the alleged lack of care for foster youth in the child welfare system. The case is currently being monitored by a third-party organization with oversight from a federal judge in Charleston.
Since the beginning of my tenure at CYDC, my team and I have been proactive about these federal and state changes making their way to our doors. We have embraced reforms and educated ourselves and our colleagues on the implications of these new mandates impacting practices and policies, and identified solutions to implementation hurdles at both the state and federal level.
It is critical that our voices and those of our youth are heard. Incorporating the lived experiences of youth in care into new policies and practices is essential in creating effective services that result in improved outcomes, positive changes and healing for children and families in our community.
For over 230 years we have been the open door place for children and youth in need. We have helped families in our community overcome crises and build relationships with their children in stronger and healthier ways.
We look forward to continuing to advocate and participate in both state and federal discussions about the best care for youth and their families. As a smaller provider of services in the state, it may at times seem like our voice is drowned out or prioritized further down the list than some of our counterparts. This is all the more reason we are continuously working with state agencies and our national partners to make sure we have a seat at the table.
We have invited Mr. Letgers back to speak with our board further about the impact both federal and state changes will have on our organization and more importantly on our programs and services for youth and their families. These are important conversations and help us develop our vision and goals for the next 230 years of serving our community.
P.S. We are always looking for additional members to join our strategy committee. You do not have to be a board member to get involved in advocating for CYDC and our families at the local, state and federal level. We are looking for community leaders who are passionate about our work, have experience in this area and are willing to donate their time to help us make our voices heard. To join please email communications@CYDC.org.