Nearly every child wishes for a strong family. Even if they can’t verbalize it, there is nothing that makes you feel safe more than being in a safe place with people who care about you. For our state’s most vulnerable children, this is more often a dream than a reality in their lives. So when home is not a safe place to be, the state has to step in to care for these children.
Recently, the Winston-Salem Journal published an op/ed article examining North Carolina’s Child and Family Services Review from 2015. This report comes from the federal Children’s Bureau who is required to review the state public child welfare system every seven to ten years. In a Child and Family Services Review, there are 14 performance factors state programs need to meet. In 2007 (the most recent prior review), North Carolina was in “substantial conformity” with six of the 14 factors.
In 2015, North Carolina was not in compliance with any of the factors.
Now the state has 90 days to put forward a plan for improvement. If the improvements are not made within three years, the state will have to pay a monetary fine. In 2007, the fine amounted to $1.2 million when one goal was not met within the time frame.
It’s a dismal report, to be sure. Clearly we are not responsible for the state’s outcomes. But reports such as these punctuate the need for accountability for all child welfare systems and agencies.
So how are we doing at The Crossnore School?
Safety is our number one priority for all of our children. So many of them come from situations where they had no idea what each day would hold. Effective healing can only begin when a child feels they are finally in a safe environment. According to The Sanctuary Model®, we must provide four types of safety: physical, emotional, psychological, and moral. Our residential cottages provide a home free of abuse and neglect, encouraging children to use that safety as a springboard for the healing they need and the choices they will make for their futures.
My favorite thing about The Crossnore School is I have a safe place to live and a place to call home.
Providing appropriate therapeutic services is another priority for our children. When children feel safe and are well-cared for, they are able to deal with the trauma they have endured. A recent Facebook post from The Forgotten Initiative asked this question,
Did you know…physically he is 8 years old but developmentally he is only 3 and experientially he is more like 25. He has no clue how to react to all that has happened to him in his short life.
Individual and group counseling, family therapy, and educational groups help our children process all that they have seen in their short lives.
Finally, and equally importantly, is stabilizing a child’s education. Many of our students come to us a year or more behind in school. Our charter school, Williams Academy, works hard to help our students catch up and address any educational deficits they may have. Every year, we graduate nearly 100% of our seniors, and the Class of 2016 has 12 seniors who are all on track to graduate. Furthermore, most of them are making plans to attend college. Education is one of the keys to breaking the cycles of poverty, neglect, and abuse that these children have experienced. Education gives our students choices in what they want to do for the rest of their lives.
We will readily admit that The Crossnore School is not perfect. We will also readily admit that the achievements of our children are often above the norm for kids in foster care. A safe environment, appropriate therapeutic services, and a completed education set our children up for success. The state of North Carolina has a long way to go to improve the quality of care for most of these children and we pray they will work hard to make those improvements.
In the meantime, we’ll keep doing what we do best. This desire to provide quality care for children has been the catalyst for our recent growth so that we may serve more children.
We invite you to share in making a difference in the lives of our kids.