Community Dialogue

More than 65 government, education, healthcare, business and human services leaders gathered for a Community Dialogue on the systems of care for our children and families hosted by Child & Family Services.  Each small group was given a composite story of families that represents several of the very real challenges families face in our community each day.  Participants’ initial reactions to the scenario ranged from sadness to frustration to motivation.  Many in the groups were not surprised by the circumstances before them while others were overwhelmed at the multiple barriers to stability and success.  Each group was asked to raise questions about the case.  The questions will be shared with the Erie County Coordinating Council on Children and Families to identify and propose corrective action. The following questions emerged:

  • Why aren’t systems involved at the origin of each problem?
  • Who is responsible for making sure agencies communicate, share information and work together?
  • How do you run interlocking systems?
  • What is the role of faith-based and private organizations?
  • How do you measure problems and successes?
  • How do you define success?
  • How can we help people at the stage in their lives when they need it the most?  
  • How often does the system account for what the people in these situations say they need?
  • How do we break the generational cycle?
  • How can we integrate systems through the school to help an entire family?
  • How do we develop more proactive systems rather than reactive systems?
  • How do we get the community to invest in human capital as they have in creating building codes, for example?
  • How can process and policy create an integrated, connected system that includes communication and education on resources?
  • Where can the county have the biggest impact?
  • How do we bridge the gap between medical and social services?
  • How can we better support people willing to access services?
  • How do we better educate case workers and caregivers about resources available?
  • How can we eliminate the stigma of services to reduce reluctance to use the help available?
  • How can the greater community help the “community of professionals” working with families?

The Erie County Coordinating Council on Children and Families will review and explore responses to these questions over the next year.