As some of you may have known, there was a Mayoral Child Welfare Advisory Board meeting yesterday at DHS. It is also a little known fact that I am a former DHS client. What I remember most about my experience in the system is that there are a lot of children that were lost in the cracks, going from being dependents to delinquents all too frequently. The correlation is clear. If a child is not given the proper guidance, attention, or love during their adolescent years, then it should be expected that the very same child that was once neglected will attempt to get that desired attention by acting out in school (which is a cry for help) or by looking for acceptance elsewhere (most often by falling in with the wrong crowd).
Growing up I wasn’t an angel, but I was branded with the label of having “potential,” so often times I got away with my character flaws whereas children similarly situated would be given up on. Today, through my own efforts (and as a result of maturity) I’ve become a refined and polished version of myself; however, most of the kids that I came up with aren’t doing so well. Although my story isn’t much different then there’s, I’ve become the man I am, not as a result of one particular persons efforts, but because of an aggregate of influences like my mother’s discipline and drive, my advocate Bob Tintner’s command of the law, my social worker A.B. Clarke’s patience and on the spot counseling, and Frank Cervone’s mastery of the art of persuasion, which to this day baffles me because I still can’t say no to the man. I mention all of this to say that it is clear to see the importance of positive people on one’s life and that DHS is attempting to make amends for the hundreds of former clients that it has failed in the past. Even though I feel like DHS is still a ways away from meeting that goal, the agency is on the right track.