Rise magazine is written by parents who have faced the child welfare system in their own lives. Many people don’t know that the majority of children who enter foster care return home to their parents–and that most children in care wish for a lifelong relationship with their parents, whether they live with them or not. Helping parents is fundamental to helping children in foster care.
Through personal essays and reporting, parents illuminate every aspect of the child welfare experience from parents’ perspectives. Sign up for a free individual subscription or purchase print copies to hand out to parents and child welfare staff. For professionals, Rise stories offer insight that can improve how you engage and support fragile families. For parents, Rise offers information, peer support, and hope.
In a recent Rise support circle, parents directly impacted by ACS discussed the necessity of the Child Tax Credit and stimulus payments for their families. Parents were able to use these payments to cover essentials like food, since food stamps don’t go far enough. They were also able to use the money to pay or catch up on rent. One parent shared that she was able to buy furniture and another was able to pay their child’s phone bill. Rise supports making the Child Tax Credit permanent and other efforts to provide direct cash assistance and increased benefits to families.
It is no surprise to me that American Idol star Syesha Mercado had her children taken from her under these horrific circumstances, because I went through something similar. Mercado was seeking help and care for her child –– and instead, her one-year-old son and newborn were both taken away. Tragically, this is common within the world of family policing, commonly known as “child welfare”. Many Black parents, myself included, have sought support from hospitals, only to be met with new traumas and more health issues.
For fun, my son Aaron and I like to go to museums, playgrounds and zoos. Our favorite museum is Brooklyn Children’s Museum. There is so much to do there that even if you go a lot, you will always find something new to entertain you. Aaron loves to go in the sandbox, look at pretend animals, build in the block lab, play with colored sand and use the water table.
Sitting at home and doing nothing doesn’t seem so bad, right? You can sleep late, play on electronics all day. But that gets boring and lonely and leads to stress. I like to see Aaron happy and to see that he is social and can make friends easily. Doing these things together brings us closer and helps us relax and have fun.
Shakira Paige is a contributor at Rise and a member of Rise’s Peer Vision Team. This reflection on the role of Peer and Community Supporters was published in the Rise Insights report, Someone to Turn To: A Vision for Creating Networks of Parent Peer Care.
Over the past year, Ashley Ellis, co-founder of B.R.E.A.T.H.E. Collective, trained all Rise staff on restorative justice circle keeping. Rise also interviewed Ashley about restorative justice as part of our process for developing the report, Someone to Turn To: A Vision for Creating Networks of Parent Peer Care.
Here, she discusses how restorative justice (RJ) training can support healing and prevent and address harm. She responds to the question, “How can people feel safe enough to show up and ask for support without shame or fear of punishment?”