Written by Associate Commissioner Aysha E. Schomburg
One of the best ways that we can support children and families is to care for them in our daily lives, in our communities. I’m sure many of us can remember seeing stories in the press about a child who had been repeatedly abused or maltreated and wondered, “Didn’t anyone know?” or “Why didn’t anyone help?” When we ask those questions, we are asking not necessarily as child welfare professionals; rather, we ask because we are concerned citizens who value the lives of children.
In New York, where I grew up, the characteristic of a good neighbor was one who minded their own business. In the communities where I lived, neighbors who minded their own business were ideal. We might say, “Good morning” or “Goodnight.” Any more conversation than that, or any attempt to find out what was going on in your neighbor’s life, was deemed being nosy. We can turn that idea around.
A few years ago, I suddenly became the temporary guardian of my 2-year-old grandnephew. Literally overnight I had to figure out how to incorporate a toddler into my life. I remember having to choose a day care. It had to be nearby, it had to be very safe, and it had to be an environment where he would thrive. At one day care visit, I found myself sitting quietly in an office with another parent while I waited for a meeting with the director. That parent, a mom of a child who was already enrolled, suddenly started talking to me. She offered her unsolicited opinion about the day care. She had great things to say. As it turns out, she was right! And I was so glad that she didn’t mind her own business.
This article was shared in the Children’s Bureau Express – July/August 2021.