IKP Holly

/Holly Schlaack

About Holly Schlaack

Holly Schlaack can’t tell you where her undeniable passion for foster children originated. All she knows is it led her on a wild ride starting as a twenty-something children’s services caseworker fresh out of college to a forty-something nationally known speaker training a variety of audiences on topics related to infants and toddlers in foster care. Between those points, as a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) she represented the best interests of abused and neglected children in juvenile court, created and managed an award-winning child advocacy program, co-founded the Southwest Chapter of the Ohio Association for Infant Mental Health, and wrote Invisible Kids: Marcus Fiesel’s Legacy. Not to worry. She’s just getting started.

Connection in a Coffee Shop

Dear Friends, I’m sitting in a cozy coffee shop on a cloudy winter morning. Behind me a group of five gray-haired gentlemen chat about HGTV (of all things!). A dad and his sleepy teenager in a school uniform split a giant blueberry muffin wordlessly as two large coffees are handed to them. The wind blows in two little boys, their mom trailing behind them with a pajama-­clad toddler in her arms. The girl behind the counter knows them all. This is a place of belonging, a place where the simplicity of connection takes center stage and suddenly, the world doesn’t feel like one big mess no matter what news is streaming live across the globe. In our frenzied desire to fix the world and manage our lives, it’s easy to overlook the power of connection; the magic medicine that soothes our weary souls, tired bodies, and anxious minds. The sense [...]

By | January 4th, 2016|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Connection in a Coffee Shop

The Street We Call the Child Welfare System

If you saw an infant crawling across a street alone, would you stand there and watch? Would you look the other way? Would you think, not my baby, not my problem?   I doubt it. I think you would sweep in, dodge traffic, and risk your very life to pluck that little one from danger. I think you would be outraged and shocked. I think the image would haunt you and keep you up at night.  It should. Unbelievable as it may be, there are far too many children dying in a street we call the child welfare system. It is a dark and busy well-worn road riddled with broken concrete, shards of glass, and too many sinkholes to count without enough manpower and resources to fix it. Who would want to work on that road anyway? It’s dangerous, traumatic, and exhausting. Lots of good people sign up for the job as caseworkers, [...]

By | September 1st, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on The Street We Call the Child Welfare System

First Breaths, Last Breaths and What Comes Next

Twelve years ago, a blue-eyed baby boy took his first breaths in this great big world. His single mother subsequently took him home to a life of dysfunction, poverty, abuse and neglect. I often wonder what his first days, weeks, months were like as he grew into a toddler. Did his mother love him?  I believe she did. She simply didn’t have the skills necessary to take good care of him. Did he love his mother? I think he did. He used to bring her fistfuls of dandelions and weeds that he picked from their front yard. This blue-eyed boy took his last breaths sweating to death in an inferno closet where summer heat soared and his sweat soaked the blanket that bound his arms behind him and wrapped him tight like a mummy. I often wonder about those last moments when this little boy died alone, gasping for air. [...]

By | July 8th, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on First Breaths, Last Breaths and What Comes Next

Together We Can Change the Child Welfare System

Who is responsible for foster care children residing in virtually every zip code across America? The answer might surprise you. It’s not your local children’s services agency. It’s not your governor. It’s not Congress or Health and Human Services. It’s not the president. It’s us. You. Me. Your neighbors. My friends. We pay the taxes. We vote the decision-makers in. And most important, we decide what we stand behind and are willing to fight for—not just when a child in foster care dies, but over the months and years it will take us to fix our very broken foster care system. I was a month out of college in 1994 when I started my career in child welfare. Armed with only a little black pager and notebook, I spent my days knocking on doors and checking on abused and neglected kids in all corners of Cincinnati, Ohio. For the next [...]

By | July 2nd, 2015|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Together We Can Change the Child Welfare System

Our First Government Response … *sigh*

Good News! We got a letter/response from the Larry Hogan, Governor of Maryland. He thanked us for our letter and expressed his commitment to being responsive. Bad News! We got the same, duplicate letter/response addressed to Ms. M.* of Baltimore, MD. I hope she’s not waiting for his response because it came to Ohio. In case she is, we’ll post here. We all make mistakes. Things happen. Totally understandable. We’d like to forge a good relationship with Governor Hogan because we think he’s probably a good guy. Most elected officials want to do the right thing, especially when it comes to abused and neglected kids. Problem is, how are we supposed to form a relationship with him when our initial attempt is met with this unfortunate sloppiness? Relationship. Connection. Shared concern about the 400,000 kids in foster care and the mostly dismal outcomes they face. These are what we want [...]

By | June 14th, 2015|Blog|Comments Off on Our First Government Response … *sigh*

Best News Ever!

Davion was 16 when he stood before a church congregation in Florida and asked for a forever family. He is finally right where he belongs. http://www.tampabay.com/features/humaninterest/finally-a-family-for-davion/2225047 www.fosteringrights.org &nb

By | April 21st, 2015|Blog|Comments Off on Best News Ever!

The Ten Most Surprising Things About Foster Care

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dawn-teo/the-10-most-surprising-things-about-foster-care_b_7058474.html “And that's not even getting to the civil rights of foster children who deserve to have their mental health needs met." ~Dawn Teo

By | April 12th, 2015|Blog, Uncategorized|Comments Off on The Ten Most Surprising Things About Foster Care

There are Many Ways to Help Foster Kids and Families!

Foster-to-Adoptive Parents Krista and Howard Lorenz didn’t stop reaching out to help foster kids after they adopted. Instead, they founded Warm Welcomes Foster Care Outreach, a non-profit organization that seeks to create a sense of belonging for foster kids. http://www.warmwelcomes.org/

By | March 21st, 2015|Blog, Uncategorized|Comments Off on There are Many Ways to Help Foster Kids and Families!

Is 294 the Magic Number?

The National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) Child Welfare Project has identified at least 294 bills enacted in approximately 45 states in 2014. Will they create better protection, care, and well-being of abused and neglected kids? We hope so! Time will tell. http://www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/2014-child-welfare-legislative-enactments.aspx

By | March 5th, 2015|Blog|Comments Off on Is 294 the Magic Number?

What are They Worth?

AARP spends $25 million per year in advocacy for seniors. All children's advocacy groups combined spend less than $1 million. We must care for our present AND our future. This seven-minute audio interview with Robert Fellmeth, Executive Director of the Children’s Advocacy Institute, is well worth your time. http://wyomingpublicmedia.org/post/report-all-50-states-failing-help-abused-and-neglected-kids

By | February 21st, 2015|Blog|Comments Off on What are They Worth?