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March 2024Vol. 25, No. 2Finding Our Way, A Message From the Associate Commissioner

Cowritten by Associate Commissioner Aysha E. Schomburg, Arleen Rodriguez, and Tabitha Temple

In the fabric of the child welfare system, lies a tapestry of racial injustice and inequity. It's a thread that has plagued generations and marked the system with an extensive history of disparate outcomes for Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous children and families. Within this story there lies a struggle, maybe the better word is a journey—a journey towards racial equity that is both exhausting and transformative. One marked by the structural challenge that the system is truly functioning as it was intended yet illuminated by the determination and resilience of individuals like you and me who consistently seek and work arduously for change.

To do the best we can for the families we serve, it is critical to confront the reality of historical injustices and hold the tension of this painful history with the hope of the opportunity in front of us. We all know how disproportionality and disparities were born, but when we set our goals, is it on the front burner or the back? It is not always easy to hold that tension and often we find ourselves yielding to the colonizer lens. When we do that, we continue to uphold the caste system and perpetuate the inaccurate stories of historically marginalized and silenced communities. 

The journey is not a linear path but rather a continuous struggle marked by progress, setbacks, and resilience. The journey requires a collective commitment and intentional decision to challenge our own bias, examine our decisions, and practice continuous self-reflection. I am excited to share that in honor of Black History Month and in alignment with the President’s Executive Order on Further Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through The Federal Government, the Children’s’ Bureau kicked off the 2024 Race Equity Challenge.

The challenge allows us to create a collective space. We will begin with the Road to Equity prompting us to identify our goals for participating in the challenge. It sets the stage for a transformative experience. We then delve into Building on Protective Factors and how we can attune ourselves to their expression among diverse communities. Next along the journey is Understanding Disproportionality in Child Welfare. This crucial discussion dives into the intersection of bias and disproportionality. Our next stop will be Culture in Child Welfare as we acknowledge the vital role that culture plays as a protective factor. Our final stop, Shared Trauma, Collective Resilience, and Healing, is where we will acknowledge the importance of resilience and how we can heal as a community. 

I hope you will participate in this challenge, share your experience, and that some part of the way you approach your work will be transformed.