NCS this Month: A Message of Growth, Change, Action and Movement
A Message from Our CEO
Dustin, a gifted former colleague I worked closely with before coming to Northern trains youth organizers across the country to develop their critical thinking skills to affect change in structural conditions within their own communities, while also developing their own skills (many of these young people live in high-poverty and are engaged in the foster care and/or juvenile justice systems).
As a part of the training, Dustin tells an unforgettable story that I think about often at Northern. The story is this: Members of a village/community rush to the river as they discover babies traveling down the river after they had been thrown in. The villagers work to rescue the babies as they ride the dangerous currents alone, and in increasing numbers. The villagers save as many babies as they can, but in their desperate attempts, are never to able travel to the mouth of the river to figure out why these babies are being thrown into the water in the first place. If they were able to do this, the babies being thrown in the river and needing rescue in the first place would be profoundly reduced and impacted.
The children, youth, and families that we serve at Northern, whether through our behavioral health or child welfare services, face significant and traumatic issues – most stemming from a variety of life events that include childhood abuse and neglect, violence, incarceration of themselves and/or their caregivers, homelessness, and substance abuse. And, like the similar populations that my friend works with in his own community, these children, youth, and families that Northern partners with are capable, through their own resilience, efforts, and vision of individual, familial, and community transformations that ideally and ultimately lead to systemic change.
This is what we at Northern believe is possible, and continue to work towards every hour, every day, every week, every month, and every year.
This month is no different. October has already proven to be a big month of action, change, and movement for us. October 10th was International Mental Health Day. Established and supported by the World Health Organization, the goal is to raise awareness about mental health, reduce the stigmatization and sometimes mistreatment of those affected by mental health issues, and spotlight effective treatments and approaches to addressing these issues. At Northern, we continue to work to eliminate mean barriers to behavioral health services such as access, education and awareness for the low-income children, youth, and families that can and do benefit.
The state budget impasse continues to stretch Northern and other agencies and organizations to cover our commitments – most importantly those to the foster families that support the care and nurturing of the children in our care for child welfare services. Unlike too many other providers, Northern has continued to honor our commitment to paying foster families regularly and on time – despite the fact that our ability to meet other contractual obligations has been significantly compromised. While we stand by our priorities and values in this regard, we also realize that we cannot sustain this support indefinitely. We are urging our supporters – representative of those who support the fundamental human rights of the children, youth and families that we serve – to stand up for these rights through your own advocacy. You can do this by contacting State Representative Pam DeLissio at one of her offices:
Philadelphia Office Info
6511 Ridge Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19128
P*: (215) 482-8726
F*: (215) 482-9066
Harrisburg Office Info
Room 109B – East Wing
House Box 202194
Harrisburg, PA 17120
P*: (717) 783-4945
F*: (717) 787-1193
With the school year now well-underway, our skilled and committed staff are hard at work through the evidence-based, trauma informed behavioral health services we provide in 10 elementary and middle schools in the Philadelphia School District, in our after-school program, and through outpatient services provided on our Philadelphia campus and in our Chester office, as well as in our young patients’ homes and communities. Staff are also busy ensuring that our young residents in our Generations I and II programs are enrolled and actively attending school and/or working while learning invaluable life and parenting skills that will ideally take them far in life.
At Northern and beyond, we must all continue to not only save our babies coming downstream in the river, but also work to stop them ending up in the river at all.