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What Do We Mean By "Transformative Service?"

Updated: Feb 9, 2023

An excellent question that was raised about what I mean when I say we are creating a roadmap to "transformative services." For me, there are two components that must be present for transformation to occur.

The first component is LEADERSHIP. Most people do not like change because it makes them uncomfortable or it brings about a fear of the unknown. Over the course of the past several years, we were forced to live in a place where we had no idea what the next day would bring, let alone what might happen in the next week, month or year. Now, as the world begins to settle post-pandemic, businesses, schools, government offices, and the human services sector are all trying to normalize and shift back into "what was" before the global pandemic.

But the world has changed. People have changed. Our systems have changed. And I believe leadership must change if we want to move forward. We must reimagine how to lead.

There are unspoken rules that define what we do, and even how we do it. It's time to come together to challenge those unspoken rules for the sake of improved services. We need to consider different leadership structures - break it all apart and allow those with less experience to bring their unbiased imagination to the table. It is important that we be leaders of transparency, integrity and honesty - expose fears and failures, learn from both our challenges and our accomplishments.

The time is now to come together and reimagine leadership. I may not have all the answers, but I have many thoughts about it and I want more thought partners like you to join me.

The second component to transformative service is the impact of transformed leadership on service. CORA's sole purpose is to ensure that EVERY child and family in our care is rapidly and seamlessly connected to the correct service(s) based on their identified need(s). Living and working in Philadelphia has provided me with the opportunity to meet incredible individuals, systems and organizations who care about their neighbors and those they serve. The individuals working in the School District, charter schools, and private schools believe in providing quality education to children and young people. Most went into their education fields to serve, to care for, and make better the lives of others. The work is hard and many get tired. And I can't blame them. It's not easy and we all know Philadelphia educators are underpaid with more intensive environments to work in.

Those working in the behavior health sector, CBH, DBHIDS, SCA did not enter their fields to make money. These are counselors, case managers, psychologists, and social workers who dream of changing lives. Unfortunately their jobs become even more difficult to do because they are sandwiched between the state's needs and the desire of the providers who are at the ground level. They attempt to make wise decisions based on what is seen. Eventually the original heart of service gets lost in the pains of systems.

In the midst of having good people doing hard work, and systems that build programs and services on the basis of an identified need, we are unable to easily move into new service delivery models because neither their leadership teams nor the providers actually want to change. It's too scary and could hurt the bottom line and the employment of their team. Its this fear of change that leads to old and broken systems that leave wide gaps for children. This is never our intention, but everyone is boxed in by their own regulations from above and the pressure of providers below.

CORA Services' has made it a priority to break this down and close those gaps so that we can get families the support they need. The only way to do that is to work with all of these systems and break down the barriers between them so that common sense on what is needed happens, not systematically but pragmatically for every child, every life we and all other providers touch. I know it sounds like common sense but common sense is very hard to live out when there are systems preventing it from happening.

In a nutshell, transformative services begins with transforming our leadership across the public sector - challenging our approach and assumptions of leadership structures and voices; and, ends with transforming services - breaking down systems to support individuals.

I want to talk about both - my thoughts on leadership and what CORA would like to do to break down silos. But this can't be done by ourselves. I want others to join in the conversation and in the PARTNERSHIP of good change.

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