In March, we announced an effort focused on strengthening families involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. This collaboration between The County of San Diego Health and Human Services, The Clinton Health Matters Initiative, and The San Diego Foundation is intended to identify and address systemic issues that impact the quality of life for families involved in these systems.
The first step toward informing this process was to listen and clarify the challenges from many perspectives.
Over the past months, over 60 stakeholder interviews from a broad representation of service providers, advocacy organizations, and other child welfare supporting stakeholders were conducted. These interviews were consolidated into a summary report shared with participants earlier this month.
On July 11, we convened the San Diego Community Forum on Health and Welfare, bringing together these stakeholders and community representatives to review and discuss the report. In opening comments, San Diego County Supervisor, Greg Cox, reminded participants that while the number of children and youth in the child welfare system has been reduced over the last decade, we cannot be satisfied until all children and their parents are living well.
During this Forum, a room of over 70 energized participants, representing a coalition of thought leaders, decision makers, and organizations worked collaboratively to identify environmental, institutional, and socio-economic factors impacting families involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.
Participants were reminded that evidence-based practices exist that can be considered when seeking solutions to these findings. And, where there are none, we have the experience and expertise necessary to generate innovative ideas to improve the quality of life for San Diego children and families.
The event included breakout sessions that encouraged participants to share insights related to four social determinants of health:
- Health behaviors
- Clinical care
- Social and economic factors
- Physical environment
These sessions provided an opportunity to further explore key findings and suggest actionable solutions. These breakouts further provided the opportunity for community leaders to create and deepen camaraderie and working relationships.
At the Forum, a name for the initiative was selected by majority vote. Going forward, we will be collectively working toward Strong Families, Thriving Communities; a title that represents a commitment to both family and community.
Central to a thriving community is the strength of families
We want all San Diegans to thrive, and as Nick Macchione, San Diego County Health and Human Services Director, noted in his opening remarks, “Central to a thriving community is the strength of families.”
Stakeholders agree that participating in a facilitated process to examine the factors that negatively impact families, and co-creating a priority list of solutions that will be implemented in a timely manner is necessary.
Consider a contribution to Strong Families, Thriving Communities to support this effort.
About Kathlyn Mead
President and CEO of The San Diego Foundation, Kathlyn Mead has been actively involved in community throughout her career. National Medical Fellowships honored Kathlyn with its 2015 Leadership in Healthcare award. Charles R. Drew University recognized her commitment to community service with its 2011 Medal of Honor. Mead was named a 2008 Woman of Distinction by the University of Southern California, received San Diego’s 2004 KGTV-10 News Organizational Leadership Award, and is also a 2003 YWCA of San Diego TWIN awardee.