National Safe Place Network Membership

A Personal Reflection on Leadership

Written by: Tammy Hopper, Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer, National Safe Place Network & RHYTTAC

Writing about leadership is bizarre. If you write about something, you should know what you are writing about. If you profess to know a lot about leadership – or at least enough to write about it – does that mean that you are holding yourself out as a role model? In trying to determine the most accurate, though totally subjective, answer to my own question, I decided to think about the leaders I know or have known in my life. First, there was my mom. She led through a balance of compassion and control. My father led through years of hard work followed by years of stories of what he learned by working so hard. My first pastor, Brother Fred, was a Native American leading a small Christian church in rural Mississippi. He led by demonstrating that words of kindness may soothe but never eradicate the pain caused by words of hate. My high school English teacher led by gentle challenges to all of his students that you are never as accomplished today as you could be tomorrow. An early social work supervisor led by showing patience, persistence and passion – all while working with the kids rather than hanging out in the office. Each of these souls imprinted their form of leadership on the way I feel and think about the world. So, I wonder. Is this leadership? Is it impacting another in such a way that the other person is forever changed by the encounter? If so, can there be negative leaders? Surely, there are. If not, many of the warnings I received as a child were simply scare tactics meant to keep me on the straight and narrow (I think they worked to well.) I believe there are leaders who lead without ever realizing people are paying attention. I know there are leaders who use their skills and personal characteristics to gain more for themselves than they ever help others achieve. I think there are leaders who believe that they should be followed and who criticize those individuals who refuse to follow them. Luckily, I don’t work with these people. I don’t see any of these leaders in partnering organizations or in our membership. I haven’t spotted these leaders at our workshops or conferences. In our world, I see the other leaders. The ones who understand that a simple gesture of good will, an act of patience, a sharing of resources, a hug of support or a nod of validation can be critical. These leaders don’t look for THE moment to make a difference because they realize that EVERY moment is an opportunity to create change. John Quincy Adams said, “if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader”. Our social service field is filled with leaders at all levels. Youth, professional youth care workers, managers, clinicians, executives, administrative staff, drivers, volunteers, cooks and receptionists – each spread ripples of positive impact in the streams in which they swim. I guess maybe the most often missed characteristics of leadership are humility and gratitude. I am learning to be a leader. Thanks to all of you who are learning with me.

Speaking of leadership – NSPN members and licensed Safe Place agency staff gathered in Savannah, Georgia last week (August 12-14, 2015) for the New Leadership Institute. Participants identified their leadership strengths and challenges, assessed leadership styles, developed skills, and learned new methods of decision-making. Stay tuned for details about upcoming NSPN leadership-focused events!

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Pride Isn’t an End. It’s a Beginning.

By: Jama Shelton, LMSW, PhD, Deputy Executive Director for True Colors Fund

Pride Month is not only an opportunity for homeless youth programs to celebrate the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) young people with whom they work, it’s also a time for youth-serving agencies to come out as visible allies of all young people. Sometimes youth serving organizations may not celebrate Pride Month if they think it isn’t relevant to the youth within their programs. Even if you aren’t aware of any LGBT identified youth (or youth who may be questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity) within your programs, chances are, they’re there! In fact, 99% of the service providers we surveyed for our Serving Our Youth Report said they work with LGBT youth in their homeless youth programs. Less than one percent reported not working with LGBT youth. Pride Month is a perfect opportunity to let these young people know that you see them, stand with them, and support them.

Pride Month is a time to be, well… proud! It’s a time to celebrate the accomplishments of LGBT people and communities. And we’ve had no lack of accomplishments lately! Laverne Cox continues to excel at her craft, while also raising awareness about the unjust treatment of transgender people, particularly transgender women of color, in our country. Over the past few months, Caitlyn Jenner’s decision to live as her true self has made headlines worldwide, and introduced the topic of transgender identity to a whole new audience. Let us be proud of and celebrate these incredible women!

Let us also recognize that many LGBT young people struggle to survive in families and communities that are not yet able to accept or celebrate them. According to service providers we surveyed, LGBT youth continue to be overrepresented within the population of youth experiencing homelessness, and identity-based family rejection continues to be the primary reason for their homelessness. While Laverne and Caitlyn are making their ways into households all over the world via mainstream media, transgender youth are being forced out of their homes and face great difficulty finding adequate support once on the street.

While updating our report this year, we asked service providers about their experiences working with transgender youth separately from their experiences with cisgender LGB youth in order to better understand how to support transgender youth. Here are some of the key findings from the report:

  • Organizational staff report average increases in the proportion of LGBT youth they serve. This change is higher for transgender youth.
  • Service providers were more likely to report that transgender youth experience homelessness for longer periods of time than cisgender LGB youth.
  • Transgender youth were estimated to have experienced bullying, family rejection, and physical and sexual abuse at higher rates than their LGB counterparts.
  • The number one need for LGBT youth experiencing homelessness, as identified by providers, was housing. Providers also identified transition-related support as a critical need for transgender youth. Transition-related supports include access to legal support, name/gender marker change, access to healthcare specific to transgender youth, access to hormones, and emotional support.

So why am I bringing this up during Pride Month, a time when celebrations of LGBT identity abound? Because not all LGBT community members are accepted, much less celebrated, in their families and in their communities. This June, I challenge you not only to celebrate, but also to educate within your organizations and communities. Increasing visibility is important, but let’s not stop there. It’s an important first step in creating a safe and inclusive society, but when Pride Month is over and the parades have ended, what will have changed for the LGBT youth experiencing homelessness in your community?

This June, I am proud to work alongside many of you in communities around the country as you commit to making your programs and services safe and affirming for all youth. I encourage you to celebrate the LGBT youth you serve not only during the month of June, but all year. If you’d like suggestions on how to do that, contact us at the True Colors Fund. We’re happy to help!

True Colors Fund, National Safe Place Network NSPNsights Blog, Pride Month 2015

True Colors Fund, National Safe Place Network NSPNsights Blog, Pride Month 2015

True Colors Fund, National Safe Place Network NSPNsights Blog, Pride Month 2015

True Colors Fund, National Safe Place Network NSPNsights Blog, Pride Month 2015

True Colors Fund, National Safe Place Network NSPNsights Blog, Pride Month 2015

True Colors Fund, National Safe Place Network NSPNsights Blog, Pride Month 2015

Spring Forward with National Safe Place Network

By: Katie Carter, Director of Research, Education & Public Policy, NSPN

I love spring. It’s a time of new beginnings, warmer weather, flowers…

We mark this time of year at NSPN by launching our annual membership and licensed agency renewal drive. In case you missed the launch, you can read more here: http://www.nspnetwork.org/join-the-network.

I’d love to take this opportunity to share some of the exciting things we are doing, and some of the things we have planned. For starters, many of you are wrapping up the busy grant-writing season. We’ve been providing support to many of our member agencies, answering questions and reviewing proposals. We are available to do this year-round, for any of your grant proposals, not just your federal proposals. We wish you all luck who are writing and submitting proposals in the next few days.

Later in April, we are hosing a webinar for NSPN members about host homes. Some of you have been asking what host homes are. In the host home model, youth live temporarily with members of the community while receiving services. Host homes can serve as emergency shelters or as longer-term housing for youth in transitional living programs. Depending on the individual state regulation, the placement may be licensed of unlicensed. Agencies in rural areas often consider host homes a practical alternative to both short-term shelters (Basic Centers) and longer-term transitional housing (Transitional Living Programs). The host home model is a flexible model providing housing and stability. We have a terrific, experienced panel lined up to share experiences using host homes in their states. We have representatives joining us from Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte, Project Oz, and Vermont Coalition of Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs. If you are curious about learning more about the model, or want to figure out how to strengthen the model in your state, check out this webinar on April 29 at 2 p.m. NSPN members can register here:  https://nspn.memberclicks.net/index.php?option=com_mc&view=mc&mcid=form_191383.

Later this spring, we are also convening an on-line course, Clinicians’ Coffee House. This four-week course will cover: how self-care can lead to preventing vicarious trauma and contribute to a better trauma-informed approach for your entire organization. You can learn more and sign-up here: https://nspn.memberclicks.net/index.php?option=com_mc&view=mc&mcid=form_192441.

Be on the lookout for additional webinars and training opportunities through National Safe Place Network membership. We are excited about the events we have coming up and look forward to sharing them with you.