Dismantling Institutional Racism Brick by Brick

How do we begin to achieve racial equity in child welfare and create equitable outcomes?

In January 2021, Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois brought together nearly 200 individuals from social service agencies, DCFS leadership, board members, supporters and staff from around the country for our Annual Meeting on ‘Dismantling Institutional Racism Brick by Brick – Achieving Racial Equity in Child Welfare’.

Attendees heard how LCFS is moving the needle within their foster care program by increasing permanency for youth of color and decreasing days in care. The event also included a panel of child welfare leaders, including LCFS President and CEO Mike Bertrand, LCFS VP and Chief Operating Officer Beverly Jones, Chief Program Officer Rich Bobby with Little City and Senior Strategic Advisor with UCAN Zack Schrantz on how their organizations are working toward dismantling institutional racism.

Watch LCFS’ 2021 Annual Meeting

Racial Equity Resources

LCFS Presentation: LCFS VP and Chief Operating Officer Beverly Jones highlights the agency’s work in improving outcomes for children and families of color within the child welfare system.

Racial Equity Resource Guide: A collection of resources to help you learn more about institutional racism, implicit basis and the importance of racial equity.

Little City Presentation: Chief Program Officer Rich Bobby’s presentation on his own racial equity journey as well as Little City’s work.

UCAN Presentation: Senior Strategic Advisor Zack Schrantz’s presentation on UCAN’s 17-year organizational journey in diversity, equity and inclusion.

LCFS’ Anti-Racism Journey

Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois has a vision of a world where all of God’s children have the opportunity for safe, healthy and meaningful lives. LCFS is one of the few child welfare agencies left in Illinois that was born from a faith-based foundation, and we see this as a means to serve ALL children and families regardless of religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or political beliefs. LCFS is proud of our commitment to being W.I.D.E., which means Welcoming, Inclusive, Diverse and Equitable.

“LCFS cannot adequately serve the families we are deeply committed to unless we embrace the principles of WIDE,” explains LCFS President and CEO Mike Bertrand. “As a society, we must acknowledge that systemic racism is still present in many of the institutions and systems meant to help and protect children and families of color, including LCFS. It is vital for us to fully embrace anti-racist values, behaviors, and policies to change our culture and the way we serve. If we don’t, we will not only fail the people we serve, but our organization will fail, too.”

As a part of WIDE, it is crucial for us to address how implicit bias and institutional racism contribute to inequality for children of color. When you partner with LCFS, you partner with the second largest community-based provider of foster care services in Illinois with a track record of strengthening more families than any other organization in the state, so foster children can safely return home. Together, we have been able to begin addressing the inequalities that children and families of color face by decreasing the lengths of stay in foster care by 16% and increasing the permanency rate by 47%.

Partner with LCFS

In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Addressing institutional racism and implicit bias is a journey and we invite you to partner with us on our journey.

Interested in learning more about LCFS’ journey toward dismantling institutional racism brick by brick and discuss how we might partner together in this work? Contact Sara_LoCoco@lcfs.org or 708-488-5576.