A letter to the community from Drew Henrie-McWilliams, CEO, Morrison Child and Family Services

June 30, 2018

Hello to everyone,

Those who know me best won’t be surprised that I’ve debated numerous ways on how to start sharing what’s true for me and Morrison at this time.

As with many others, our hearts are so heavy right now with the separation of families at the border and with the divide that continues to permeate our country. I must express many thanks to the journalists and news outlets that have treated and continue to treat Morrison with the utmost respect during this time of intense media scrutiny for our organization.

My head and my heart – and those of my staff, both current and former – have been in full throttle to take good care of the kids we serve while we address community fears, outrage, and inaccurate information regarding Morrison and the separation of children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

I feel it is important for us to hear the voices of the youth (aged 13-17), who are currently being served in our ORR programs, about what they have experienced in the past weeks. They want to understand why some, outside of Morrison, “hate them so much” that they would shout and bang on our doors a week ago Wednesday; they want to be able to go outside on outings and appointments without worrying that someone will shout at them or harass the staff helping them; they wanted us to show that their space with us is pleasant and that they feel good about how staff help them; and they too want us to keep working to find family and/or sponsors in our country with whom they can be placed.

We have had an outpouring of meaningful support from those who trust us and know us best and significant criticism from a small few who have worked here in the past. We have also heard from those who don’t really know us well, or at all. During this time, we continue to safeguard the privacy of youth in our programs while simultaneously working with various agencies responsible for the ongoing and regular monitoring of our services.

Since we have been thrust into the public consciousness over the past few days, there have been some who have criticized our mission as well as our methods. While I will be the first to admit that none of us are perfect, I can say with the utmost confidence that each member of the Morrison staff strive to do their absolute best to responsibly serve and protect the vulnerable youth in our care, and they work tirelessly to see that they are reunited with family or other sponsors as soon as possible. When staff errors are made, which inevitably happens in any organization, we are required by law to report them and share this information with our licensing entity, funding organizations, and other key stakeholders. This not only enables us to be accountable but also to acknowledge and learn from our mistakes.

As a youth survivor myself of physical torture, sexual exploitation, and abuse for being gay, and as an adult who dealt with the loss of my long-term partner to suicide from severe mental health struggles, I know firsthand how difficult working through trauma can be. I know that I am not damaged goods. I know and believe that my late partner was much more than his diagnosis. The youth we serve across all of our local and state-wide programs, along with the ORR programs, are so much more than any diagnosis, and they are not damaged goods. They are kids who deserve the best care possible, and they deserve to be with those who love them.

What follows this letter (below) are two outlines of what we do for all youth in our ORR programs. The first is an outline of how we do our family reunification work. The second describes the regulatory environment that we operate within and the external organizations who regularly inspect, audit, and license us. When any of them make recommendations for improvements, we make things better.

I have also included (further below) our Equity and Inclusion policy that guides our anti-racist social justice efforts. As with all organizations, we are a work in progress, and we cannot do this work alone. We need everyone’s help to face and change bias, racism, xenophobia, heteronormativity, classism, and ableism in our communities.

I want to thank our partners, including the local non-profit, Immigration Counseling Services (ICS), that provides specific advocacy and legal services for the ORR youth in our care, along with a myriad of others who provide behavioral health, physical health, dental health, and case coordination services – just to name a few.

We ask that those who continue to protest for the reunification of separated youth remember that all of our youth want to feel safe and want to have their privacy honored.

Thank you for reading this letter, please see additional information below, and I wish you well.

With respect,

Drew Henrie-McWilliams, Morrison Child and Family Services, CEO

 


Morrison ORR-Funded Programs: Family Reunification and Case Management Services
Service Description (2018)

Family reunification services are embedded in all aspects of the residential and support services provided to immigrant youth by Morrison Child and Family Services. Family reunification and case management services are provided by Spanish-speaking staff with extensive knowledge of Mexico, Central and South American countries and culture.

  • Immediate Youth Interview (RE: Family and Ability to Contact Family)
    • An initial interview with a referred youth is typically completed the same day that the youth arrives or the next morning depending on the time the youth comes to the program (within 24 hours). Youth are informed at the point of entry into care by Morrison Case Managers that they may contact their families.
  • Immediate Family Contact
    • Biological parents and/or other family members including those residing in the youth’s home country and/or elsewhere within the U.S. are contacted by Morrison Bi-lingual Spanish/English speaking staff, or with the use of other language interpreters as needed, to ensure that they know that they can speak with their children immediately, that they understand the whereabouts of their children, and the services offered by the program. Family members are reassured that the youth is safe and that they will be receiving supportive care and supervision in our residential program. The reunification process is also explained. Parents are given our contact information in case they have concerns or questions.
  • Frequent Case Staffing to Organize and Support Family Reunification
    • Internal case staffing meetings with various direct care and program leadership are held weekly to plan reunification efforts.
    • Weekly meetings are scheduled and facilitated with a third-party Case Coordinator.
    • Weekly supervision occurs between the Morrison Case Manager and Case Management Supervisor. The goal of each of these meetings is to ensure that family reunification is moving forward as quickly and safely as possible.
  • On-going Availability of Professional Staff
    • Case managers are available on-site 7 days a week at varying times to ensure that staff are consistently available and that reunification services and activities are moving forward.
      Staff often answer nighttime and early morning phone calls from family members to ease worries and explain processes.
  • On-going Contact with Youth
    • Case Managers continue to meet weekly with youth in care to provide updates on reunification and legal processes, inquire about their overall well-being, and ensure that they understand where they are at in the reunification process
    • On behalf of youth, we advocate for and ensure that youth are speaking with their family members (parent(s), sibling(s) etc.) on a regular basis. Morrison Case Managers are the primary facilitator of this communication and reach out to ORR, ICE, and others as needed to find family members and obtain information about their whereabouts.
  • On-going Contact with Family Members and/or Potential Sponsors
    • Case Managers gather key documents that support family reunification processes and document carefully all these efforts.
    • Phone calls are made to family members in their home countries and/or with potential sponsors in the US (which are almost always family members) to move the reunification process forward and to receive and share all relevant information.
    • In situations where a potential sponsor is not a verifiable relative, we call the minor’s parents and other family members to obtain ORR required proof of their relationship. This may include interviews, passport stamps to back up information gathered, communication records such as Facebook or call logs, photographs, or DNA tests. Case Managers must ensure that all youth know their potential sponsor and have a safe, trusting, healthy relationship with that individual.
  • Service Coordination
    • Case Managers coordinate all appointments with legal service providers from Immigration Counseling Services (ICS) assigned to youth in care. Youth are encouraged to speak with ICS when they have any legal questions or concerns, and Case Managers coordinate weekly phone calls between the youth and ICS. We work closely with ICS to ensure that our youth are receiving the legal services they are entitled to, including their Legal Screening and Know Your Rights Presentation which occurs within their first 5-10 days the program.
    • Case Managers work closely with the consulates, outside mental health agencies, physical health providers, dental providers, and other legal providers to ensure that youth have all their mental, physical, and legal needs met.
  • Transition Planning
    • Case Managers take a leadership role in working with sponsors to locate the school that the youth will attend, find mental health resources (if indicated), and obtain medical service options in their sponsor’s neighborhood. We do an abundance of transition planning with the sponsors to ensure they have adequate resources that are culturally appropriate and easily accessible.
    • Case Managers utilize their fluency in Spanish and English to describe community resources to sponsors and explain how to access them. We often explain in Spanish or translate documents from English to Spanish for sponsors so that they can easily fill out the required paperwork. If Spanish or English are not their primary languages, Case Managers will use language interpretation services to ensure that sponsors understand the resources that are being provided. We will call schools after reunification to ensure that the sponsor is being connected and provided services in a language they understand.
  • Follow-Up Services (after leaving the Program)
    • Thirty days after youth are reunified with their sponsors, Case Managers contact both the youth and the sponsor to assess the youth’s functioning at home and at school.
    • Case Managers ask if the youth is enrolled and attending school, adjusting to the sponsor’s home and family, feels safe, and if both the youth and the sponsor remember and understand how to obtain information about court and other legal proceedings.
    • We request to speak with the youth separately to make sure the information provided is what the child honestly feels.
    • Case Managers offer to provide assistance in obtaining any additional community resources and will directly support the sponsor and youth with any contacts or calls that they need to make.

Morrison’s Regulatory Environment for ORR Programs
6/26/18

Morrison programs funded through the ORR system respond to a very wide range of complex regulations and requirements set forth by Federal and State regulatory bodies to ensure the health, safety, and well‐being of youth served. The regulations can be found in applicable Oregon Administrative Rules, State law, and Federal law. Morrison has designed programs and services to make sure that we comply with all regulations and laws, and we are continuously monitored to ensure that the program is safe, secure, and promotes the overall health and well‐being of youth placed in the program.

The regulatory environment that we work in to provide residential care includes:

  1. Must hold a State of Oregon license as a Child Caring Agency for the provision of Residential Care. The license expires every 2 years. License renewal occurs every 2 years and includes an audit of policies and procedures, an inspection of the facility, youth interviews, and a program visit. State of Oregon DHS Child Welfare sends an auditing team to thoroughly review program and client records. Additionally, an unannounced visit by State Licensing Coordinators occurs once during the 2 year period. Each audit or inspection is followed by a Corrective Action Plan that focuses on correcting any problem or concern found. Pertinent regulations are found in Oregon Administrative Rules.
  2. Must provide services according to HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement policy guidance and grant requirements. Monitoring visits occur at least every 2 years. A Federal Auditing Team arrives for a 1 week period and inspects the facility, interviews staff and youth, and reviews all program documentation, client files, and staff training records.
  3. Each Morrison program funded by ORR has an assigned Federal Field Specialist (a trained social service professional) that reviews all aspects of each youth’s care and placement planning multiple times a month. There are also assigned Case Coordinators, who are non‐governmental contracted field staff assigned to review the youth’s circumstances and provide transfer and release recommendations to ORR staff. The Case Coordinator is responsible for integrating all areas of assessment from the Case Manager, Child Advocates, where applicable, and other stakeholders into a placement plan that will provide for the youth’s well‐being.
  4. Must comply with Oregon Child Abuse Reporting Statute. Morrison staff are mandatory reporters by Oregon law.

All regulations are designed to ensure that youth are well cared for.

6/26/18


MORRISON EQUITY AND INCLUSION POLICY
November 2017

Morrison Child and Family Services’ mission is to provide effective and responsive services for children and youth coping with adversity and trauma while recognizing and respecting cultural
differing needs.

I. OBJECTIVES OF THE MORRISON CHILD AND FAMILY SERVICES EQUITY AND INCLUSION POLICY

The objective of the Morrison Child and Family Services (“Morrison”) Equity and Inclusion Policy (this “Equity Policy” or “this policy”) is:

  1. To create an antiracist organization by ensuring that racial identity doesn’t determine or predict the quality of trauma informed care a child receives from Morrison Child and Family Services; thereby resulting in equitable outcomes for all clients.
  2. To demonstrate Morrison’s commitment to leadership in social equity by ensuring that Morrison’s strategic goals, outcomes, programs, and initiatives advance social equity through internal business practices, robust community partnerships, and accountability measures.

 

II. ORGANIZATIONAL SCOPE

The Equity Policy is a Morrison‐wide policy.

 

III. DEFINITIONS

Definitions for the terms in this policy include:

  1. Antiracist Multicultural Organization: An organization that has restructured all aspects of agency life to ensure full participation of People of Color, including their worldview, culture and lifestyles; implements structures, policies and practices with inclusive decision‐making and other forms of power-sharing on all levels of the agency’s life and work; and commits to struggle to dismantle racism in the wider community, and builds clear lines of accountability to racially-oppressed communities.
  2. Equity: Equity is when everyone has access to opportunities necessary to satisfy essential needs, advance their well‐being, and achieve their full potential (i.). Additionally, equity is the acknowledgement and belief that aspects of one’s identity impact that person’s access to resources and privileges, thereby preventing a person from achieving their full potential. Equity work strives to remove the policies, practices, and attitudes that result in these differential outcomes. Equity includes just access to opportunity, means, and treatment in areas such as health and healthcare, economic stability and affluence, unbiased and accessible education, and civil and political liberties. The distinction between equal and equitable treatment is that equality assumes we all start with the same access to resources and opportunities, and equity asks us to address the institutionalization of oppression, which causes a imbalance in social, educational, political and economic opportunity. Although we must strive for equality, we need to begin with equity in order to shift the scales. Equity is the absence of avoidable or remediable differences among groups of people, whether those groups are defined socially, economically, demographically, or geographically(ii.).
  3. Communities of Color: People who self‐identify as Black/African Americans, Latina/Latino/Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian‐Pacific Americans, Subcontinent Asian‐Pacific Americans, and/or first‐generation immigrant populations.

 

IV. POLICY CONTENT AND GUIDELINES

The objectives of this policy are pursued in two primary ways:

  1. Manage all projects and programs in a manner which explicitly considers beneficiaries, addresses disparities, and supports equitable outcomes as further described in Section V. of this policy and the Administrative Procedures;
  2. Ensure that Morrison’s internal business practices and external services embody anti-racist strategies to increase diversity and social equity within Morrison and support partnership, transparency, and accountability with community stakeholders as further described in part VI. of this policy.

 

V. ACHIEVING ANTIRACIST AND INCLUSIVE OUTCOMES WITH MORRISON PROJECTS, PROGRAMS AND EXTERNAL SERVICES

Description: Morrison services and activities that impact the community (e.g., clinical, therapeutic, education and training, residential, development, public affairs and community engagement) will be evaluated from an equity perspective to (1) answer “who benefits?”; (2) ensure that existing disparities are explicitly addressed, and; (3) mitigate unintended consequences.

Practices: The following practices will inform Morrison projects and programs not addressed under section VI.:

  1. Antiracist and inclusive decision‐making tools: A Tool for Organizational Self‐Assessment (Related to Race Equity)(iii.) shall be used to develop an “Equity Lens” that shall inform all clinical and therapeutic practices, education and training, residential and development to determine how to best address disparities, advance strategic equity objectives, and do not result in unintended consequences.
  2. Antiracist and inclusive outcomes: This policy provides direction for the Morrison Equity Advisory Council (EAC) Action Plan, which is the instrument for accomplishing anti-racist and inclusive outcomes. This is further detailed under Section VII of this policy.

 

VI. BUILDING COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS AND INCREASING DIVERSITY AND TRANSPARENCY THROUGH ANTIRACIST TRANSFORMATION OF INTERNAL BUSINESS PRACTICES

Description: Morrison’s internal business practices (e.g., administration, human resources, development, public affairs, community engagement) will strengthen the diversity and cultural competence of its staff, achieve meaningful public involvement for historically disadvantaged populations, and promote clinical and therapeutic care, education and training, and residential services to communities of color through the creation of antiracist and inclusive decision‐making structures.

Practices: The following practices will inform internal Morrison processes:

  1. Institutionalizing Antiracist Staff Development. Morrison shall maintain the Department of Equity, Inclusion, and Sanctuary (“E, I, &S Department”). The E, I, &S Department priorities are to develop and implement, in collaboration with the EAC as described under section VII, an agency‐wide equity and inclusion program that is data informed and directed by equity assessment results which apprise appropriate policies, procedures and programs designed to leverage accountability for race equity outcomes. The E, I, &S Department shall be the equity and inclusion all‐staff training resource, and provide subject matter advice, expertise and assistance to the EAC and Morrison department/program directors, vice‐presidents and executive leadership. The Human Resources division, in collaboration with the E, I, &S Department, and with input from the EAC, will develop, adopt, and implement a specific and strategic plan to recruit, retain, promote and ensure a positive work environment for a staff that is authentically reflective of the local community.
  2. Engage Partners in Antiracist Work. By expanding antiracist organizing and capacity building tools, Morrison shall engage the community in ways that allow for meaningful public involvement of those impacted or affected by projects, programs, and processes.
  3. Accountability and Governance. Cultural competency and inclusionary practices that support the Morrison Strategic Plan and annual work plans will be integrated into employees’ 90‐day and annual performance evaluations.

 

VII. EMBODYING ANTIRACIST BEHAVIOR AND CREATING RESPONSIBILITY THROUGH A MORRISON EQUITY ADVISORY COUNCIL

Description: Morrison’s Equity Advisory Council is hereby chartered by the Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) and endorsed by the Board to hold Morrison responsible for achieving the goals and objectives outlined in Sections V. through VI. above. To achieve these goals, the Council will (1) model antiracist decision‐making structures and behavior, (2) make recommendations to dismantle institutional racism and improve Morrison’s cultural competency, (3) and initiate courageous conversations that increase employee awareness to race, privilege, and inequity. The full scope, structure, and activities of the EAC are detailed in the attached draft Charter and Operating Bylaws. The EAC will submit its Action Plan to the CEO annually and will report regularly to the
CEO and annually to the Board on the organization’s progress in achieving the objectives of this policy. In addition, the CEO may direct the EAC to undertake analysis of specific aspects of Morrison’s work and provide additional feedback on the adequacy of the organization’s efforts to further the objectives of this policy.

 

VIII. IMPLEMENTATION

The CEO is responsible, with input, to create and periodically update administrative policies or procedures to guide implementation of this policy (the “Administrative Procedures”).

 

(i.) The Portland Plan (April 2012)
(ii.) World Health Organization (WHO – 2006)
(iii.) Developed by Coalition for Communities of Color, October 2013, From the Eliminating Disparities in Child and Youth Success Collaborative