27 Sep Chereese Phillips on the Family First Prevention Services Act
No Place Like Home
By: Chereese Phillips
Vice President/Policy Committee Chair, Foster Care Alumni of America
As we approach the end of the fiscal year, and Congress prepares to leave session, thousands of children and families hang in the balance. Concerned foster care alumni across the country urge passage of the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA or Family First Act). As alumni of the foster care system, we understand firsthand the need for foster care prevention services and family support.
Foster Care Alumni of America (FCAA) members, Crys and Connie, have used their stories to articulate how early receipt of mental and behavioral health treatment would have greatly benefited their families, reduced the likelihood they would have been placed in foster care, and averted trauma that removal from family and entry into foster care often elicits. For Connie, quality prevention services and support for her family would have interrupted the unfortunate intergenerational child welfare involvement her family has experienced. Early services would have prevented unnecessary trauma and accelerated the road to healing. Crys wholeheartedly believes timely drug and alcohol treatment would have allowed her to stay at home with her father. For many FCAA members, there is no place like home; familial bonds run very deep.
Despite common perceptions, many of us eventually go home. Annually more than half of children who experience foster care are reunified with their family of origin. Entry into foster care is preventable. Providing families in need with adequate resources either to create or maintain a safe and nurturing home environment is imperative. Removal from family and the loss of familial connections are extremely traumatic experiences that alumni often carry into adulthood.
At FCAA, we connect the alumni community to transform policy and practice, and promote opportunities for people in and from foster care. FCAA joins more than 400 advocacy organizations nationwide in support of the Families First Prevention Services Act and thanks the champions who crafted this bill with us in mind. This legislation’s early investment into families offers a monumental and necessary step forward. Having experienced the foster care system ourselves, we know what is needed. We urge policy makers to not make children and families wait any longer for these critical improvements.
Postcards included were submitted anonymously by FCAA members. To learn more about the FCAA Culture of Foster Care Postcard Project, visit: http://fostercarealumni.org/the-culture-of-foster-care/
About the author: Chereese Phillips
Ms. Phillips is currently the Vice President of Foster Care Alumni of America. Chereese serves on the Human Subjects Review Board and the Constituent Research Advisory Team for Casey Family Programs. In addition, she is Federal Child and Family Services Reviewer. In the past, Phillips worked in the Community and Constituency Engagement Unit and the Research Department at Casey Family Programs. She gained additional practice experience while employed at DHS- Children’s Administration, the College Success Foundation, YMCA, and Seattle Public Schools. Ms. Phillips received her PhD from the University of Pittsburgh and her MSW and BA in sociology, from the University of Washington – Seattle. She is a member of several boards and oversight committees.