The Child Welfare League of America awarded its 2013 Community Partnership Award to the Child Welfare Organizing Project, a New York City group that helps parents advocate for themselves after making contact with the city’s child welfare system.
CWOP is widely credited with reducing New York City’s foster care census in recent decades. It was founded in 1994 by a researcher named Beth Rosenthal, and has been led by Michael Arsham since 1998.
Some of its programs focus on training parents to serve in advisory, advocacy and leadership roles within the child welfare system. The organization also offers programs aimed at helping parents improve their own job prospects and overall health.
Children’s Village CEO Jeremy Kohomban presented the award to CWOP Board Chairwoman Sandra Killett last week at CWLA’s annual conference, lauding the organization for pioneering the movement to involve parents.
“CWOP was on the forefront of this effort at a time when simply the thought of parents and youth in these roles was considered heresy,” Kohomban said.
Such efforts are critical in fostering candid and accurate discussions of the system and how it serves families and children.
“The truth is this: Poverty, race, color and selective communities are the defining characteristics of the system,” Kohomban said. “We must have the courage to keep this fact front and center every day.”