by Alesia Frerichs, VP of Member Engagement
What happens when you bring 12 Lutheran Social Ministry organizations together in partnership with the Annie E. Casey Foundation? The first week in June in Sacramento, I was blessed to observe that what you get is a lot of ideas, support and information exchange that leads to organizational changes and transformation.
In April, a dozen LSA member organizations began a journey with The Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Provider Exchange® to focus on encouraging organizational cultures that are focused on results, or outcomes, and how those results are measured. The idea is that by doing so, our members can be more effective in addressing the needs of every child and family they support.
With more than 100 LSA members serving children, youth and families in 33 states across the country, our network has a significant national child welfare presence. LSA members provide a broad range of services from foster care and adoption to counseling, housing, health care, mental health care, early childhood education, charter schools, alternatives to detention, Unaccompanied Refugee Minor (URM) foster care programs, and programs for youth aging out of foster care. The umbrella group of the Children Youth and Family "Community of Practice" comes together to learn from and with each other to transform the well-being of vulnerable youth and their families by continuing to improve current care practices, develop new and innovative solutions and encourage practitioner informed policy decisions.
In the April meeting the 12 participating organizations, pledged to work with each other over the course of a year and support each other in this goal with ideas, resources and best practices as they continue to evolve their organizational cultures to be more outcomes focused. The group met again June 3-4 in Sacramento, toured the headquarters of Stanford Youth Solutions and spent a day working with the Provider Exchange Peer Leader, Dr. Laura Heintz.
Discussion topics included measuring organizational accountability and how to support and coach case managers to be more focused on and able to achieve results. The site visit emphasized the role organizational culture plays and how to be intentional about creating it. There was discussion on staffing and training, and the challenges associated with the Affordable Care Act creating a situation in which more and more licensed staff being recruited away to work with health care providers, and how do you recruit and retain great staff.
Throughout the day I was reminded of the amazing talent, commitment and expertise we have in the LSA network. This type of learning and sharing requires a commitment of the staff to take time out of their busy work environment and the trust to talk about what is working – as well as what is not working – and then the discipline to take these learnings home and implement them… all while continuing to help the most at risk youth and families. It's not an easy job. But it is something Lutheran Social Ministry organizations have been doing for years: evolving, changing and thriving to serve those most at risk.
LSA members participating in the Provider Exchange learning cohort in Sacramento: Lutheran Services Carolinas, Lutheran Services Florida, Inc., Lutheran Services in Iowa, Lutheran Social Services of Indiana, Lutheran Social Services of Michigan, Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota, Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area, Upbring (the new Lutheran Social Services of the South), Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains, Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska, Diakon Child, Family & Community Ministries and Lutheran Family Services of Virginia, Inc.
In response to the overwhelming interest expressed by member of the CYF working group, we have created a second learning cohort in partnership with the Center for the Study of Social Policy. This group is currently taking new participants and more information about the program can be found on our website: http://www.lutheranservices.org/cssp. If you work for an organization that is a member of LSA and are involved in services for children, youth and families, please contact me if you’d like to get involved with this work. AFrerichs@lutheranservices.org.Thank you to everyone who participated in this great session in Sacramento, and we are looking forward to our next gathering in November, in Baltimore.