How can it still be in 2017 that, in the face of so much evidence that the quality of relationships between regulators, family members, caregivers, and service providers is crucial to positive outcomes for children, families and communities, that we continue to see so many examples of conflict and mistrust?
Blame, mistrust, cumulative unresolved trauma undercut the near-universally shared visions of safety, accountability, empowerment, and healing. Even acknowledgement by some governments, including apologies, that certain harms can be best understood as institutionalized discrimination embedded within their own policies and practices have not fully realized how best to change these arrangements.
Top down inquiries into tragedies have too often resulted in greater risk aversion among key actors including those who subscribe to relational and responsive practices in their work in the human services.
This Big Ideas presentation is based on the belief that most people who come into the human services do so out of a genuine desire to help rather than to do harm. The paper draws from local and international research, policy and practice innovations, especially in the area of community-centered child and family practice, and in particular work at the intersections of child maltreatment, family and other expressions of interpersonal violence.
Emphasis is given to how widely shared the underlying principles are amongst disciplines and practitioners who work across the human services in social services, education, health, justice, yet are separated by the silos of their respective mandates often resulting in conflicts that undermine capacity building.
International efforts at building restorative communities, cities, and organizations are highlighted as holding high potential for creating positive working relations between regulators and healers and fostering climates that are hospitable to building confidence in public institutions.
(Thank you William Elliott Whitmore, for “We’ve all got some healing to do”, including the scream at the end, that so well demonstrates the frustrations of both those who want to do the right thing and those who have been hurt by our collective failings to get things right.)
About the Speaker
Gale Burford is Emeritus Professor at the University of Vermont and Distinguished Visiting Scholar of Restorative Justice at Vermont Law School. Until his retirement from University of Vermont in 2014, he was Director of the University-State Child Welfare Training Partnership and Principal Investigator for the Vermont Community Justice Consortium.
He has published on a wide range research activities, including those that focus restorative justice and family engagement interventions – particularly in situations of child abuse and interpersonal violence, the use of drug courts, reparative probation with adult offenders, a youth-run community living program, group care and residential treatment programs, differential treatment approaches, teamwork, and organizational change.
Gale’s professional life has revolved around practice, regular study, teaching and research in international venues but particularly in Northern England and New Zealand. He has experience in public service as a foster and group home parent, caseworker and social work practitioner, trainer, and supervisor, manager and senior administrator in services for children, young people and their families and conducted private practice of individual, group and family counseling for 25 years. He lives in Burlington, Vermont, with his spouse Kathy.
For more detail, visit his RegNet profile.