Lessons Learned #2
With the QIC-EY’s definition of authentic engagement of children and youth now developed and the pilot sites engaged, a second foundational lesson for child welfare professionals has emerged; and it starts at the top. Although senior-level leaders are not always engaging directly with clients, by valuing and modeling relationship building within their organizations, they can create the conditions for staff members to maximize opportunities to engage authentically with children and youth. When leaders recognize and prioritize relationship building throughout an organization, agency or system, they can blaze a pathway for shared decision-making, ensuring that children and youth are at the center of child welfare work. This ultimately will benefit not only the children and youth served but also the system overall. To bring this lesson to life, the QIC-EY talked with Addie D. Williams, JD, former president and chief executive officer of Spaulding for Children. Addie believes that even though leaders in child welfare do not always engage with children and youth directly, the tone that these leaders set and the actions that they take to build open, inclusive, caring environments have a direct and lasting impact on how staff engage with children and youth.