Monthly Archives: April 2016

Shay Bilchik – Making a Difference Through Inspired Leadership

make a difference phrase on blackboard

On May 18th, at Fedcap’s Spring Cocktail Party, we are honored to be presenting the Amalia Betzanos Award to Shay Bilchik, the founder and Director of the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy.  Amalia Betanzos, an iconic figure in New York City was the founder of Wildcat Services Corp. – a subsidiary of Fedcap—and a longtime, powerful advocate for helping people with criminal backgrounds get that all important second chance.

Mr. Bilchik is a lifelong and tireless visionary and pioneer, promoting a researched and multi-systems approach to addressing the needs of young people involved in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

Mr. Bilchik’s remarkable work has been focused on creating a comprehensive model that unites policies, data, and best practices among all those who are involved with juvenile justice. His is a reform agenda with a particular focus on the needs of young people who have been involved with both the child welfare system because of abuse or neglect, and the juvenile justice system, based on instances of delinquent behavior. These young people, dually involved, are referred to as “crossover youth.”

For years, the child welfare system and the juvenile justice systems worked in solos, which meant that when a young person “crossed over” from one system there was little to no coordination of services and supports.

Under the leadership of Shay Bilchik, The Center for Juvenile Justice Reform established a model, called the Crossover Youth Practice Model (CYPM), to unite in common language, goals, principles and practice the work of the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

The principles of the CYPM are rooted in a strengths-based approach—calling for the best practices and aspirations of the systems, practitioners, the youth and their families. Additionally, the model calls for data-driven decision making by integrating information across systems as well as ensuring that all involved—from leadership to case workers—are well-trained and will ultimately serve as equitable partners united in their goal of improving the outcomes of the youth being served. The Crossover Youth Practice Model is working; it has been integrated into hundreds of jurisdictions across the country and the outcomes for crossover youth are significantly improving.

In the weeks to come, I will be highlighting many of the successes of the CYPM as well as and asking for your feedback and thinking about ways to continuously raise awareness and find solutions to prevent young people in the child welfare system from “crossing over”.

In the meantime, I am heralding the remarkable leadership of Shay Bilchik. His is the type of collaborative, team-based, innovative thinking and hard work that makes change in institutionalized systems possible. He is a champion in our field—and reminds me every day that the work we do to improve lives is possible.

He inspires us all to remember that we can make a difference, we can imagine what is possible and we can implement the strategy, systems, structure, and vision to improve not only the lives of those we serve, but society at large.

What Sticks: Learnings from Fedcap’s 11th Solution Series

Lessons Learned written on chalkboard

On Wednesday, March 30th, Fedcap held its 11th Solution Series—a forum for discussing and forging new strategies and solutions to address the top issues facing people with barriers to economic self-sufficiency.

Each time we hold a Solution Series, I am struck once again by our tagline: The Power of Possible. The “power” comes from gathering a community of business executives, representatives from government agencies and academe, policy makers, providers, and consumers of our services united in the purpose of finding innovative ways to alter the stigma—and the lives—of those of us who face barriers. The “possible” is the creation of an open forum where issues are discussed and the audience leaves enlightened and energized to continue to seek precise and realistic solutions to the tangible and intangible issues that challenge those with barriers. These events are among the many reasons why I love my work and am reminded that every day, our work is improving the lives of those we serve.

The Solution Series on March 30th was one of our best ever. Our goal was to gather a panel to discuss strategies and solutions for supporting individuals in the workplace recovering—or struggling—with substance use disorder or mental illness. Over 150 people, representing 65 businesses came together at the top of the Mutual of America building on Park Avenue in New York, and upwards of 100 attended via live-stream from all over the country. Facilitated by Chief Strategy Officer, Lorrie Lutz, the panel included Matt Sisk, Deputy Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, Brooke Wilson, the director of Resources for Living at Aetna, and Jim Salzano, the CEO of Easy Spirit (a Nine West holding).

Each speaker brought a different perspective to the issues of recovery in the workplace. Brooke Wilson spoke of “presenteeism”—the concept that there are people who show up for work every day, but they are really not present—not contributing at full capacity because they may be wrestling with addiction or mental health issues. She outlined specific things to look for as well as ways to help educate managers, leaders, and co-workers about the warning signs of presenteeism. Brooke’s work at Aetna has been to transform what was formerly known as the EAP (Employee Assistance Program) into a much more open and accessible resource called Resources for Living—with great results including a sizeable increase in people taking advantage of the myriad services offered.

Jim Salzano spoke of his obligation as a leader. He believes that as CEO, his job to serve everyone in the organization to ensure they have what they need—including access to services should they need them. He spoke about creating a culture of support—of trust and vulnerability—that will erase the shame and stigma of mental health and substance use challenges—and replace it with support, education, and access to necessary help. He spoke of the line between “ability” and “disability,” and the wobbliness of that line—suggesting that it may be too rigid to box people into either category.

Matt Sisk spoke openly about his own struggles with addiction in a high-powered post and about what it is like to now sit on the “other” side of the desk, leading a large staff of people and supporting those who need it most with education and access to services.

I am energized by what I learned on March 30th. Joe Giannetto, our Chief Operating Officer, closed the meeting by highlighting the ways the landscape is changing for mental health and addiction and that society’s perspective is undergoing a renewal and hope for the betterment of everyone. I agree with him. I believe that change occurs one conversation at time. The Solution Series is one such conversation. I welcome more conversation and more dialogue about the possibilities for continued movement away from stigma and toward support and integration.

What do you think?

SS 2016

L-R Brook Wilson, Aetna, Jim Salzano, Easy Spirit, Mark O’Donoghue, Fedcap Board Chair, Matt Sisk, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Christine McMahon, CEO Fedcap