MISSION

Raising a community voice for kids in the child welfare system

WHO WE ARE

We are former caseworkers and Guardians Ad Litem (GALs). We are foster and adoptive parents. We are Court Appointed Special Advocates and former magistrates. Collectively we have over 100 years experience and dedication to children in the system.

We’ve experienced firsthand and celebrated the successes of the system, and we’ve been a part of happy endings and witnessed the lives of children and families transformed. That’s the good news.

But too often, we’ve seen the devastating consequences of a compromised system that just isn’t working for enough of our most vulnerable children and families. That’s not okay with us. We believe we can and must do better.

With your help, we will.

The issues are complex. The answer is simple.

WHAT’S THE ISSUE?

Kids are suffering and dying in the very system designed to help them.

By the time you go to bed tonight, 1,837 new children will have entered our nation’s child protection service as confirmed victims of abuse or neglect. These children have been abused or neglected by their families so severely they require government intervention such as in-home services, placement with relatives, court-ordered foster care or other out-of-home placement.

Despite these interventions and oversight, too many children continue to suffer. Sometimes they die.

Between 2008 and 2011, more than seventy children in the state of California died of abuse or neglect while in the system for protection. In 2011, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine held child safety summits in eight counties across Ohio in response to the brutal deaths of several infants and children in the child protection system. In Ohio between 2006 and 2010, 22% of children who died of maltreatment had an active case with child protective services; 38% had a prior history of involvement with child protection services.

There are 400,000 invisible kids, in virtually every zip code across America, under the care of our nation’s child welfare system. These suffering children are 400,000 reasons why we need to step up and fix this.

WHAT’S THE ANSWER?

The answer is so simple it is hard to believe so many have missed it. It has been hiding in plain sight for more than a century since the child welfare system was first created.

Children heal, learn, and grow through the primary relationship they experience with the person responsible for meeting their needs. If they bond with a parent or caregiver who is nurturing, protective, and responsive, they will thrive. If this bond doesn’t occur or is abruptly severed, they suffer; sometimes for the rest of their lives.

A child’s basic needs of safety, stability, and an ongoing connection to at least one loving, responsive adult caregiver must be elevated above the rights of all else. By giving voice to this simple truth, we are paving the way for better outcomes for kids in the system. But our voices alone are not enough. Your voice is needed too.

JOIN US!

We know it will take EVERY ONE OF US to raise a voice for kids in the system. We have a spot waiting for you on our team.

OUR FOUNDING TEAM

Holly Schlaack
Holly SchlaackFounder & Executive Director
For the past 20 years, Holly Schlaack has been immersed in a variety of child welfare system capacities including frontline casework and serving as a GAL. She created and managed an award-winning advocacy program called Building Blocks, and wrote Invisible Kids: Marcus Fiesel’s Legacy to educate readers about crises facing foster children and empower people to help. Holly currently trains a variety of audiences on the needs of very young foster children. As a voice of compassion, experience and common sense, she is routinely sought out by political leaders and others to offer opinions and advice related to systemic and legislative change. Full Bio
“To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul.”
—Simone Weil
Mayo Woody
Mayo WoodyAdvisor
Mayo knows the powerful difference a loving, committed adult can make in a child’s life. He was raised by his great-grandmother and the following motto: ‘It’s not what you got, it’s who you have that matters.’ Determined to pay this gift forward and be an oasis for hurting children, Mayo and his wife became foster parents more than a dozen years ago. Mayo’s service to others does not stop there. He is the Founder and Director of Projecting Hope, Inc., an outreach ministry dedicated to helping families in need. Mayo and his wife are the parents of seven children, three of whom are adopted.
“Today, many will break through the barriers of the past by looking at the blessing of the present. Why not you?”
—Steve Maraboli
Kelly Gries
Kelly GriesAdvisor
Kelly is the mother of eleven children, several whom she and her husband adopted from foster care. For over fifteen years she has volunteered as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) or Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) representing the best interests of abused and neglected children in juvenile court. Her ability to form good relationships with caseworkers, families, and other professionals has created countless positive outcomes for dozens of children. Her not-so-secret weapon is her sense of humor and she’s not afraid to use it.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
—Dr. Suess, ‘The Lorax’

OUR BOARD

President

Holly Schlaack

Treasurer

Jenny Adamson, MA. PCC-S

Members At Large

Kelly Gries

Foster and adoptive parent, long-time CASA volunteer and GAL

Mark Morman

Marketing Consultant, Hobsons

Mayo Woody

Executive Director of Projecting Hope, Inc., foster and adoptive parent

OUR CREED

  • We believe every child born has unique gifts to bring to the world. We have a collective responsibility to nurture those gifts into full potential, not only for his or her benefit but for ours.
  • We believe healthy, loving relationships are a basic need. Children heal, learn, grow, and thrive in the context of such relationships which offer stability, comfort, and protection. They have a right to continue these without disruption. Supportive relationships are equally essential to the growth and well-being of every person and every community.
  • Ensuring and supporting the development and maintenance of these relationships are the reasons we exist. We are mindful of this in all of our communication, activities, and interactions.
  • The opportunity to work toward our vision is a tremendous privilege and honor.
  • We believe collaboration does not diminish but makes us stronger, wiser, and more effective. We welcome opportunities to learn and grow with others.
  • We believe empathy, hope, and humor are powerful allies. They also make life much more pleasant.
  • We must be good stewards of all that is entrusted to us. We have an obligation to our donors of time, talent, or treasure. Their gifts are appreciated and maximized to achieve our mission.
  • We are guided by experience, sound judgment and advice, and intuition. We trust the power of Love to overcome the obstacles that fear presents. Most of all, we rely on the continual presence of an all-wise and all-loving God, named by whatever name, who seeks to connect us all as one.