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Shoulder to Shoulder
Last April we focused a show around the question, "Why do generations of the same family show up repeatedly in the family court system?" It was one of many shows that dealt with questions about foster care and child welfare. David Udlock, who organizes the annual child welfare conference, Shoulder to Shoulder, heard that show and got in touch with us. He asked if I would bring the guests to the conference and moderate a panel discussion on the same subject for the benefit of the conference attendees, who are connected to the child welfare system in some way.
So, we contacted former foster child Charity Biggs, long time foster mom Medina Cordona, Portland State's Katherine Cahn and family court judge Nan Waller. They agreed and we came together at the Oregon Convention Center on Tuesday to talk about the subject of families in the system in front of audience of care providers, child welfare workers and advocates.
What I will most remember from this event was the dedication and passion for improving children's lives that I heard, not only from our former Think Out Loud guests who were the panelists, but from the questions from the audience and the many people I talked to afterwards. They believe that it is possible for biological parents to turn their lives around and successfully parent their children; for children who must be in foster care to forge the bonds of attachment needed to heal; and that — despite the problems — the system as a whole is moving in a direction that prioritizes family connections, cultural sensitivity and making the right mental health resources available for children and their biological and foster families.