One reason that we often get side-eye* is that we advocate taking small steps towards fixing the problems within foster care. And we understand the side-eye - the problems feel huge, and big problems need big changes.
But allow me to show how small steps can add up by explaining another problem I have: My Booty Versus My Pants.
You see, my pants are quite tight these days. It’s been a stressful year, I spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen, and I like chips. And beer.
And chips with beer.
There are many, many ways that I can fix my problem. I could train for a half-marathon. I could do Whole 30. I could do a juice cleanse. I could swear off all chips and beer. Each of these would definitely help.
Consider All of the Factors
But let’s consider all of the factors. I’m an adoptive mom, in grad school, and running a non-profit. Life is stressful, time and budget are limited, and at the end of the day, I like chips. So each of those solutions would definitely help, but given the circumstance, I have a really low chance of following through.
What if we took an iterative approach to my problem? This means that we clarify the problem, come up with some potential solutions, and then run a small experiment. We learn from each little experiment, then try again (aka iterate).
Above All, Build Hope and Momentum
And what is really important is that we start with something that will actually happen, something easy and attainable. What if I spend one week drinking a full 12 ounces of water before eating each meal? Easy enough - it’s free, easy to integrate into busy days, and is more about adding something than limiting something.
By doing something attainable for a short period of time, I’m able to pay attention to what works and what doesn’t, and then shift my habits accordingly. At the end of one week, I can add another small shift to my habits - progressively building momentum and hope. And as any of us who have tried to change a habit know, sometimes momentum and hope are the most important things.
Weren't We Talking About Foster Care?
Just like my daily habits have led to my tight pants, the problems within foster care are a combination of some big problems and hundreds of tiny problems that have compounded over the years. Those tiny problems have become habit and culture - and they cannot change overnight. So while we are beyond thrilled at the big changes that are coming from the new Department of Children, Youth, and Families, we are also very aware the big changes need to be combined with hundreds of other small iterations.
Hence why we are focused small.
Now, go get a glass of water and come back to learn about The Art of Noticing.
* Side-eye: The sideways glance you give to someone that is bothering you. Such as when a tailgater finally swerves around and passes you. Or someone tries to take my chips.