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HATW's Commitment to Racial and Social Justice

Hands Across The Water is committed to having the difficult conversations and making the changes necessary to confront head-on the racial disparities present not only in society as whole, but in our agency and in the work that we do with children and families.  Our mission, to support and empower families through inclusive, strengths-based services, is the core of our identity. 

However, we recognize that our work itself exists within a context of historically racist systems, and thus are challenged to use our positions of power within those systems make changes from within, advocate for those who have been negatively affected and to demand reform. Hands Across The Water remains dedicated to addressing these challenges in the following ways:

  • Implicit Bias training for all agency staff

  • Regular trainings, roundtable discussion and resource sharing for staff to address cultural competency topics

  • Intentional focus on the recruitment and retention of a diverse staff, Board members and foster/adoptive parents for the children in our care

  • Establishment of a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee whose mission is to grow and maintain a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion in all departments at HATW. Our strength is our pledge to be inclusive with strategies that intend to welcome and uplift historically marginalized peoples within our field and the communities that we serve

  • Staff participation in statewide Racial Disparities in Family Preservation workgroup

  • Monthly reflective supervision with outside consultant for all social work staff, supervisors and managers to address impact of personal experiences and identities in their work with children and families and the impact of their work on their personal lives.

  • Agency focus on education and thorough assessment for foster and adoptive parents who are parenting transracially.

  • Expansion of agency family preservation and prevention services, as well as strengths-based and inclusive approaches with families to increase the likelihood of family reunification after removal.

  • Commitment to serving underserved communities in behavioral health through Medicaid providers and sliding scale fees.

  • Free, non-coercive pregnancy options counseling with services to support women long-term regardless of their decision to parent, terminate a pregnancy or to make an adoption plan.

We believe that our work, when done with a constant eye towards improvement and self-reflection, demonstrates social justice in action. Hands Across The Water is committed to ensuring that the marginalized communities we serve are respected, heard and served with equal regard, care and dedication.

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