Development of the Racial Justice Committee
We have all witnessed injustices in our lives. With the prevalence of social media, everyday instances of racially driven violence have been captured on camera and shared with the world. The existence of these issues can no longer be swept under the rug.
This past year we saw many instances of racially motivated acts of violence, movements, protests, and counter protests. The current pandemic’s impact on our communities of color has laid bare other societal inequities.
SOS Illinois recognizes the existence of racial inequities and felt the need to create a committee to discuss how we are all impacted and what we can do to make a difference. As a committee, our stated goal is: Advance the core mission of SOS Children’s Villages Illinois by critically assessing and creating strategies with a focus on innovative methods to create on-going plans for continued areas for education, training, and advocacy to promote equality, address racism and bias, and advocate for social justice reforms both within the organization and surrounding communities.
Striving for Diveristy, Equity, & Inclusion
There is a long history of racism and racist practices ingrained in many of our institutions and systems in our country. As the committee, we decided to start by focusing on our own industry. The child welfare system we all work in, something we are all passionate about as SOS Illinois employees, is a system full of inequities. It is a system that disproportionately impacts people of color.
As an organization, we are focused on family reunifications. As a committee, we set this as our initial focus and created a Declaration of purpose: SOS Children’s Villages Illinois recognizes the systems of inequity that disproportionately impact people of color; socioeconomic deprivation, poor education and lack of access to resources. We recognize the role this disparity plays in the dissolution of the family unit. We are therefore committed to mitigating through these challenges to reunite families or ensure a permanent outcome for children where they can continue to grow and thrive. We will do so by building bridges between our biological parents and our foster parents throughout the communities we serve.
Committee Formation and Activities
The small group of SOS Illinois team members currently involved in the committee are all passionate about this cause and invested in making a difference. We came together as a diverse group of individuals from different job functions and departments within SOS Illinois as well as from different backgrounds and life experiences enabling us to have a wide variety of perspectives.
The Racial Justice Committee is comprised of two subcommittees: one focused on Education; and the other focused on Advocacy. Below is more information about each sub-committee.
The purpose of this sub-committee is to bridge the gap between birth parents, foster parents, case management staff, and youth/minors in care through collaborative communication. This is primarily done by creating spaces for open and honest dialogue around issues or concerns that may arise in the relationship.
Additionally, the purpose of this subcommittee is to empower all members of the team to be a resource and support for the family and reunification efforts, by advocating for stronger relationships and deeper connections to be formed between parent, child, and siblings.
We, the education committee seek to inspire equity, diversity, and inclusion by demystifying the systems of inequity embedded in our institutions. We will use an array of educational resources, workshops, books, and documentaries to share information. We challenge our colleagues to approach this endeavor with an open mind.
Already, the Racial Justice Committee has made a large impact on the organization by leading the following acitivities:
- Family Togetherness Bags
- Black History Month Activities
- Women in Leadership: The Glass Ceiling, Reality or Perception?
- Child Abuse Prevention Month Awareness Activities
- Book Club, and more.
If you are interested in learning more about SOS Children’s Villages Illinois’ Racial Justice Committee, please feel free to reach out to Kelsey Balk at firstname.lastname@example.org