One of my favorite activities is to walk around the campus and check in on some of the residents who may be in crisis. At times, these children are highly agitated and unable to really interact. Inevitably over time and with the fine care that they receive from staff, you see their behavior improve and demeanor change from being withdrawn to engaged. Just the other day I visited with one of our residents who was supposedly on “independent study,” but actually on a suspension from the public school she attends. She sat with a staff member, withdrawn and indeed defiantly refusing to do any school work.
Today as I did my rounds, I am happy to report that she was actually doing some school work and interacting well with staff. What a difference a few days can make; often the progress is slow but with each day, this young girl will improve and eventually return to school.
The one thing that always encourages me, in spite of the many challenges we confront to provide services to vulnerable children and families, is their resiliency. Over and over again in more that twenty years working in child welfare, I see children respond to the services offered to them and rebound to be able to move beyond the trauma or crisis to be well functioning individuals.
Like the children and youth we serve, it is important for us to be an organization that is resilient. Recently, I attended a workshop sponsored by the Child Welfare League of America entitled, “Building Resilient Organizations.” Organizational resiliency is defined by how successfully we adapt to change. In an environment where there are numerous factors impacting how we operate, it is important for us to be able to accommodate multiple stressors while not losing sight of our mission. We also must be resourceful in order to address challenges successfully, and from constraints, identify solutions and opportunities. This agility and innovation ultimately must be reflected on how we organize ourselves to be most effective, shedding, if necessary, structures and systems that no longer serve well.
In almost a hundred years, Hillsides has been very resilient, adapting and changing while never losing sight of its mission to be a “place” for children, youth and their families to be restored to well being. Like the children we serve, success is determined by how resilient, agile and how resourceful we are.