February 2023Vol. 24, No. 1A Message From the Associate Commissioner
Written by Associate Commissioner Aysha E. Schomburg
In March, I will celebrate my second anniversary as the Associate Commissioner. We have accomplished so much over the past 2 years. When I started, I made it a priority to take time to listen to what people had to say about what children and families need. I set aside time to listen to youth, parents, external organizations, my colleagues in the federal government, as well as the team at the Children’s Bureau. These conversations took time; however, it was a priority to seriously consider how people have been impacted, what we can do differently, and what is important now. As a result of those conversations, we created our four Children’s Bureau priority goals: (1) prevention; (2) support for kinship caregivers; (3) ensure youth leave care with strengthened relationships, holistic supports, and opportunities; and (4) invest in the workforce.
We have made progress with respect to goals 1 and 2. We are raising awareness about the fact that so many children come into care due to poverty and that this is often confused with neglect and maltreatment. We have approved Family First prevention plans in 44 jurisdictions, and we have established our plan to promulgate a regulation that would advance equity and provide much needed support for kinship caregivers. There is still a lot of work to do, but I am encouraged about how far we’ve come.
As I launch into my third year, I want to leverage the conversations that I’ve had with youth and young adults impacted by the foster care system. They have been so generous with me about sharing the challenges that young people face when they have to transition out of foster care—particularly when they don’t have everything they need to succeed as adults. We have to do more. We have to do everything we can to ensure that youth and young adults are fully equipped to experience success. The fact is that they are the next generation of parents and kin caregivers, and they are the pipeline into the workforce. When we support young people—we are tackling all four of the priority goals. We must employ a multigenerational strategy; Our investment in young people today will benefit generations to come. So, in this third year, I will spend time having action-oriented summits with young adults from all over the country so that they can help us prioritize what they need to be set up for success. We will lean into their vision of success for themselves. Together, we will explore the federal tools the Children’s Bureau can use to support their vision in a way that will have a lasting impact for them and their children. This is not only about their future; inevitably, it is about ours. Let’s lean forward.