2020 marks a time of change for CSSP. Effective the end of December 2019, I assumed the role of CSSP President after the retirement of our long-time President Frank Farrow. I am honored by the confidence that the Board and staff have placed in my leadership and am thrilled to be taking on this new challenge. I’m writing now to share news of this transition and CSSP’s plans going forward. As I assumed the job of CSSP President, I have reflected on our history and our future and begun taking steps to ensure that we preserve the best of CSSP while making changes to make our work even more effective.
One thing that has been constant throughout our history is our focus on promoting what children, youth, and families need. Whether we’re working to change inequitable policies, create and test solutions that transform public systems, or partner with communities to support families on the ground, CSSP’s goal has always been clear: to make sure all children, youth, and families are thriving. This core dedication to our mission has created both stability and space for us to be persistent and nimble—always working to improve opportunities and outcomes for those most often left behind.
As we begin a new decade and new chapter for CSSP, we will not ignore the growing inequality in the nation and the large number of children, youth, families, and communities who need pathways to success. We are enhancing what has always been core to our work—our emphasis on innovation, partnership, and excellence in all that we do. We have strengthened CSSP’s leadership team with new Executive Vice Presidents Megan Martin and Susan Notkin, who are supported by our able CFO and Executive Vice President Christie Katz and our senior staff leading work in Equity and Justice (Kristen Weber); Learning and Evidence (Sarah Morrison); and Communications (Jessica Pika). With our leaders and talented staff, I intend to bolster this thriving culture of innovation, building on and enhancing what we already do so well and strengthening our attention to emerging needs and opportunities. We are amplifying our long standing work to advance equity through our new Equity and Justice Portal; we are elevating the root of inequities and promoting anti-racist policies which can be seen in our newly released paper, The Racist Roots of Work Requirements; we are helping support states as they get ready to implement the federal Family First Prevention Services Act (the most significant child welfare legislation in decades); we are supporting comprehensive early childhood systems development; and we are building on our approach to community partnership and learning from parents and communities through our centerpiece Parent Leader Network..
CSSP begins this new decade with energy, enthusiasm, and excitement for our work and gratitude and respect for our many partners across the nation. Some of CSSP’s priorities for this year and beyond include:
- Focusing on reducing poverty and improving supports for families by strengthening income support, housing, and health programs that help to meet basic needs.
- Naming the disparities in opportunities and outcomes for children and families of color and putting a focus on equity at the forefront of all our work, establishing an active, anti-racist stance as a core component to all policy and practice advocacy. We have created the Frank Farrow Equity and Justice Fellowship program through which we hope to provide future leaders with the skills and opportunities to advance this work and the nation’s path forward.
- Accelerating our efforts to ensure that public systems and community-based organizations provide youth with the opportunities and supports they need to thrive.
- Helping communities build robust integrated systems of opportunities and support for infants, young children, and their families to maximize their full and healthy development and futures.
- Supporting states in building robust systems of prevention to keep families together whenever possible, and focusing on the populations most likely to enter these public intervening systems—young children and youth. Protecting and advancing the rights of people who identify as LGBTQ+ by, for example, ensuring the definition of families is inclusive and affirming, and promoting responsive supports and services for all children and families regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
- Supporting mixed-status and undocumented families to ensure they can remain together and are supported in work, school, and the places they live.
On behalf of CSSP, we look forward to working with you to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead—we have a great deal of work to do to realize our mission to achieve a racially, economically, and socially just society in which all children and families thrive, and I believe that we’re better poised to take it on now than ever before.