Family Matters Travels to Cuba as Part of a Diverse Child Welfare Research Delegation

Washington, DC – Family Matters of Greater Washington, one of the nation’s oldest, nationally-accredited social services organizations, was selected to join a delegation to Cuba focused on child welfare. Family Matters President and CEO Tonya Jackson Smallwood, Chief Innovations Officer Jonathan Stevens, and Child Welfare Program Director Lisa Emmi will make the trip along with ten of the country’s leading childcare, healthcare and education experts. The 11 member delegation was chosen by The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) and The Coalition for Research to Practice through a cross-system application process.

The delegation will tour Cuba from September 27 through October 3 with a goal of sharing best practices from the U.S. child welfare system and learning more about Cuba’s unique practices, which do not rely on a child welfare system but instead grow out of a communal child-raising culture. The delegation is interested to see how this extended-family and community-based model has transformed throughout the last 50 years.

“The move toward normalizing relations with Cuba after more than 50 years provides an excellent opportunity to collaborate among child welfare leaders in both countries to learn what is working and the impact of differing cultures on keeping children safe, healthy and happy,” noted Tonya Jackson Smallwood.  “Family Matters has a 133 year track record of historic gains in social welfare and human services and is honored to be among the first organizations to work with Cuba after so many decades of non-engagement.”

“We are excited to learn about the resilience of families and how they manage without a child welfare system in place,” said Christine James-Brown, president and CEO of the CWLA. “We know there is a good daycare system in Cuba and a good healthcare system as well. This is going to be a good shared learning experience where we can learn from Cuba and then return to the U.S. to share that knowledge with the entire child welfare field.”

Ms. Smallwood will share her experiences through Family Matters’ web site and social media pages (see links below) along with other members of the delegation, who are committed to sharing what they have learned through webinars, reporting, and other post-trip requirements of their partnership.

Serving low-income children, families and seniors living in the Greater Washington D.C. area, Family Matters provides a broad range of programming, including mental health and counseling, child welfare, youth development, services for teen mothers, financial counseling and credit rehabilitation, senior social services, and retired and senior volunteer programs. Over its 133 year history, Family Matters has a legacy of firsts including establishing the first Boy’s Club in the District in 1901, opening the first camp for African-American mothers and children in 1907, drafting the first national Social Security program, and launching the first daycare program for children of working parents during World War II.

About Child Welfare League of America
CWLA is a powerful coalition of hundreds of private and public agencies serving children and families that are vulnerable since 1920. Our expertise, leadership and innovation on policies, programs, and practices help improve the lives of millions of children across the country. CWLA’s impact is felt worldwide.

The Coalition for Research to Practice
The Coalition for Research to Practice is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization designed to promote and conduct cross-university and multinational research projects aimed at assisting practitioners of all disciplines in utilizing research findings in their respective fields of scholarship and practice.

About Family Matters of Greater Washington
Family Matters of Greater Washington is a non-government, nonprofit organization accredited by the Council on Accreditation Services for Families and Children, Inc. and the American Camping Association.  Formerly known as Family and Child Services of Washington, D.C., Inc., Family Matters was founded in 1882 and has been an integral part of the Washington, D.C. community for 133 years. One of the oldest, nationally accredited social services organizations in the nation, Family Matters provides comprehensive, accessible, low-fee services to thousands of residents of the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. Family Matters of Greater Washington is a member of the Child Welfare League of America and the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities.

Media Contact
Jennifer Devlin (703) 876-1714, jennifer.devlin@cox.net