C2: Doing Something Wrong: Lessons in Being Imperfect When Tackling Issues of Race and Equity

Area of Focus: Advancing Equity
Room Location: Key 12

The child welfare system is impacted by and is an agent for systemic racism in the U.S., with Black and Brown children disproportionately represented. Inequity and trauma are negatively impacting the children in their daily functioning, as well as staff dealing with vicarious trauma and burnout. All these factors and more encourage us to avoid conversations about race and identity within residential treatment facilities, and we simply cannot.

This workshop is an introduction to ways in which the Hephzibah Children’s Association has puzzled through these complex issues. The organization’s Children’s Equity Committee tackles ways to address issues of race, ethnicity, power, and gender both in direct work with the kids and in support of staff and the Hephzibah community. It is a voluntary and open group of staff within the group home in varying roles ranging from direct care staff on the units to the social workers, therapists, a behavioral-analyst, and a nurse. Its focus has been twofold; creating safety within the group to support difficult and emotional topics and not burden staff of color, and consistently reassessing according to the feedback from the children on what they need. This session will help participants prioritize perseverance over perfection with lessons learned from Hephzibah Children’s Association.

Learning Objectives

  • Lessons learned by Hephzibah Children’s Association and actionable guidance on in addressing issues of race and identity
  • The connection between discomfort, perfectionism, and white supremacy and guidance on modeling, reckoning with, and moving through imperfection as a barrier to educating, building resilience and encouraging connection with youth in care
  • The benefits and successes of this work


Lucy Scott
Clinical Coordinator
Hephzibah Children’s Association

Nicole Roby
Behavior Analyst
Hephzibah Children’s Association

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