By Mike Bertrand, LCFS President & CEO
Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois was chosen as one of eight member organizations to participate in Lutheran Services in America’s Results Innovation Lab. As a whole, LCFS is strongly committed to the elimination of institutional racism and disparate outcomes for children, youth and families of color. Through the agency’s participation in the Innovation Lab, it intends by the end of September 2019 to decrease the length of time in care and increase the achievement of permanency for youth of color by at least 5%.
LCFS leadership began their work on this goal by reviewing statewide and agency data and identifying those factors that led to significant disparate outcomes for children and youth within the Agency as well as other critical systems. During this process, they identified a number of factors that they believe impact these outcomes for youth of color. The factors LCFS will address are institutional racism, lack of effective engagement with youth and family members and longer than desired court processes.
With these impacting factors identified, LCFS leadership developed a multi-tiered approach to addressing them. First, LCFS continues its work towards addressing institutional racism by staff participation in “Dismantling Institutional Racism” trainings and initiatives. These activities will give staff a framework in which to gain understanding and impact of the societal factors impacting children and families of color, so they can be addressed to increase greater positive outcomes.
Next, LCFS is focusing on improving its engagement with families by holding forums to learn and rehearse best practice techniques in family engagement and family-centered practices. Staff will utilize those learnings when holding regular client-centric children and family team meetings for all clients in care. Other staff trainings will take place around professional development and working with the judicial system to better navigate court processes. Finally, LCFS will drill into the data to ensure the desired results are taking place through Continued Quality Improvement data analysis throughout the process.
Ultimately through its participation in the Results Innovation Lab, LCFS first hopes to decrease disparate outcomes for the youth of color it directly serves, then share its learnings and model to assist other agencies in Illinois and nationwide. Because if nothing is done, youth of color will likely stay in foster care longer and fewer of them will have loving forever families. For this reason, LCFS has made an unwavering commitment to increase race practice equity and eliminate disparate outcomes for children and families of color so that the lives of all are enhanced and strengthened.
Currently, LCFS is the second largest private child welfare agency in Illinois, representing approximately 11% of all children and families within the Illinois system. For more information on LCFS, contact (800) 363-LCFS or visit.