Saturday, May 31, 2008

Meeting the Governor of Colorado in person

Photo of Gov. Bill Ritter with Lisa

I had the privilege of meeting Colorado Governor Bill Ritter in person this week at the Many Voices, One Vision Colorado Summit on Children, Youth and Families.

This conference is both the 17th annual Colorado Child Welfare Conference and the 8th annual Judicial Family Issues conference. The conference attracted over a thousand participants.

Both the Governor's speech and the workshop presentations that I attended were incredibly valuable... I will be posting further information in upcoming blog entries.

I and two other members of Foster Care Alumni of America presented two concurrent workshops on "Demystifying Emotional Resiliency."

Our audience included: judges, lawyers, guardians ad litem, CASA volunteers, social workers, caseworkers and foster parents.

Each of Colorado's 22 judicial districts were represented at the conference, and posted concrete evidence of what they were doing to help children and families.

The focus areas were: Permanency, Safety and Well-Being.

The judicial participants in this conference were there because they believe in front-end solutions, and dedicate their time to make a lasting and positive change.

As one judicial staff member, who shall remain anonymous, said to me, "It's cheaper in the long run to do things right up front."

And also, "Too often, with government, there's never enough time and money to do it right, but there's always time and money to do it over."

Please stayed tuned to read excerpts from Gov. Bill Ritter's speech, insights about youth engagement in permanency initiatives and to learn how United Way empowered young people in and from foster care to advocate for sibling visitation.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Colorado and foster care

Good things are happening in Colorado, under Gov. Bill Ritter's leadership.

In April 2007, United Way made it possible for a pair of foster care youth to shadow the Governor during "Take Your Child to Work Day."

In February 2008, Governor Bill Ritter signed into law a bill requiring counties to arrange visits between foster children and their siblings if they have been separated and want to stay connected.

But with progress comes inevitable setbacks.

The Colorado Task Force On Foster Care and Permanence was created to address problems within Colorado's foster care and adoption systems.

The intent of the task force was to include foster care youth, biological parents, foster parents, as well as child welfare professionals.

After all, round tables discussions don't work unless the key players aren't invited to the table. Nor do they work if the time, date and location of task force meetings is not publicized.

Can you guess what happened?