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“I Never Knew What Happened to Families”

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It can be bittersweet to say good-bye to the interns who work with us. Venise Rankin, a Jackson State student completing her bachelor’s degree in social work, finished her semester-long internship with Families as Allies on Friday, November 19. She will graduate in December and plans to pursue a masters degree in social work. We congratulate Venise on her graduation and wish her well in graduate school.

Venise was always warm and kind. She was open to learning new things and quickly adapted to both all of us here at Families as Allies and responding to families who contact us.

We often find that we learn as much from interns as they learn from us. On Venise’s last day, we asked her what was the most important thing that she learned from her internship with Families as Allies. She replied with a simple, but powerful, sentence: “I never knew what happened to families.”

She then animatedly described the different challenges that lead families to call. She also described all of the people with whom she had shared that the systems we tend to assume are working sometimes are not and the types of things families experience as a result.

Venise is right. There is a lot that happens to families. Systems do not always work as intended. The real resources and services that families need may not exist. Families can feel marginalized or pushed to the side when they advocate for their children. Sometimes they are pushed to the point of giving up.  Sometimes they are seen as pushy when they don’t give up.

That is why our mission is “to make sure families are partners in their children’s care.” We want every family to feel supported and heard. By “to make sure families are partners in their children’s care,” we mean that the system of care for children in Mississippi will be family-driven. Family-driven means that families are meaningful partners in decisions regarding their own children as well as the policies and practices affecting all children. 

We believe that families know their children better than anyone and that families are their children’s strongest and best advocates. We also believe that systems should follow laws and policies about families’ and children’s rights.

During her time with Families as Allies, Venise saw how acting consistently with those beliefs in supporting families leads to fewer difficult things happening to families and gives them more options when difficulties arise. We hope that each of you reading this will support those same beliefs in your work and interactions with families. We know that many of you do. Working together in partnership with all families, we can make a real difference for children.

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