“When I was a boy and would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” — Fred (Mr.) Rogers
What can we learn from the past six months? For one, we’ve been reminded of the resiliency of our communities. There are many “helpers” we have in communities who are willing to engage and support various critical areas of need and vulnerable populations that are at particular risk during times of crisis.
It’s also a reminder of how strong communities, like those serving children and youth in foster care, can surprise us with their creativity and adaptability. Which is also why it’s critically important to share the stories of “helpers” and resilience. Loudly and consistently.
As advocates, we know that in tight times, the first funding cuts to be made by organizations or the projects that are put on hold are often communications or advocacy efforts.
However, this is the opposite of what is needed. Now more than ever, it’s time for organizations to rely on their strong partners, both in the public and private sectors, to show just how valuable and indispensable they are when it comes to ensuring youth receive the care they need and get them permanency quickly and safely.
While not an ideal time, now is an ideal opportunity for shared responsibility and leadership.
The protective factors we advocate for in families, including social connections, are the same protective factors that will keep child welfare organizations surviving and thriving despite a global pandemic.
When organizations come together alongside business leaders, community partners and key decision-makers, critical needs are realized and steps are taken to find a solution.
Maintaining robust communications and advocacy efforts can ensure organizations are continuing to communicate and educate about the services being provided and the impacts organizations are having despite the challenges of the crisis.
The reality is that during a crisis – especially one that impacts each individual, business, economy and government, like the coronavirus pandemic has – it is critically important for organizations, businesses and individuals to have a voice, and more importantly to have a seat at the table where critical decisions are being made.
“When the world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”- Malala Yousafzai