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RELE Services

RELE Trains New York State Office of Children and Family Services 

New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) is one of the first states in the nation to engage regional staff and executive leaders throughout the state in cultural competency training through a “Racial Equity Awareness in Child Welfare Training/Learning Exchange.”

 

The training involved two full days with Khatib Waheed, a nationally-renowned trainer/facilitator dedicated to social justice. Participants were led in “courageous conversations” about race, equity and child welfare reform and how to better apply an equity lens to local efforts to reduce disproportionality and disparity.  OCFS set out to raise the profile of this issue and a wide range of needs related to culture, ethnicity, and disparity in juvenile justice, child welfare and early childhood programming. The most unique aspect of this effort is building the capacity of OCFS leaders on all levels.

OCFS Commissioner Gladys Carrion recognized the need to ensure all levels of management understand the importance of these issues. “The OCFS leaders must build their own knowledge, skills and self-awareness to keep pace with the changing interests they promote,” said Commissioner Carrion. “They will then take that message to their employees and local districts.” OCFS is working to help local districts develop strategies that will weave this work seamlessly into the fabric of the agencies practice, policy, accountability, training and communications efforts in an ongoing sustainable way.

Equity Coaching and RELE Train-the-Trainer Session in Florida

Equity coaching is a powerful and promising tool to help systems actualize racial justice goals and institutionalize racial justice within and across the organization. “Equity coaching for leadership supports people to:  Unpack organizational culture, systems and practices, strategize together how to make needed adjustments and navigate nuanced interpersonal relationships in leadership and management roles within the organization” (Partners for Collaborative Change, 2020).  Moreover, at the individual level, equity coaching offers opportunities for deep reflection, re-remembering, and a way to take action against racial oppression.

 

In 2019, 40 Office of Early Learning professionals participated in a 4-day Racial Equity Learning Exchange SM (RELE) training and 2 follow-up webinars with Khatib Waheed and Corey Best.  Additionally, 211 stakeholders attended 2 webinars provided by racial equity and childcare experts.  Building on this work in 2020, the Institute hired consultants to provide intensive coaching to 17 early learning leadership teams. Equity coaching is a powerful and promising tool to help organizations actualize racial justice goals and institutionalize racial justice within and across the organization. “Equity coaching for leadership supports people to: Unpack organizational culture, systems and practices, strategize together how to make needed adjustments and navigate nuanced interpersonal relationships in leadership and management roles within the organization” (Partners for Collaborative Change, 2020).

 

Moreover, at the individual level, equity coaching offers opportunities for deep reflection, re-remembering, and a way to take action against racial oppression. At the organization level, the goal of the equity coaching is to increase statewide diversity, and equity and inclusion awareness through a process where organizations create structures for their work that allow for accountability and responsibility outside of the limits of their present organizational roles and relationships. Mr. Waheed was scheduled to return for eight days to certify 15 selected Office of Early Learning coaches who attended the 2019 4-day Institute, in the RELE training.

    History has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope

can take on a life of its own.”   Michelle Obama