By Dr. Bob Sege, 10/22/20, positiveexperience.org/blog
The spirit of HOPE is simple: children are not products to be graded, sorted, and labeled, and parents are complex human beings who love their children and do everything in their power to care for them. This sounds simple. However, we live in an age where accountability has been translated into systematic evaluation–including children’s physical and developmental progress, parents’ and caretakers’ mental health education and connection, and households’ access to health-related social needs. These evidence-based screens have been widely implemented, and there is growing evidence of their effectiveness in identifying problems and supporting families.
HOPE-informed practice transforms providers from family evaluators to family allies. By taking moments to appreciate, celebrate, and bolster individual and family strengths, HOPE-informed approaches to care can fundamentally transform practice. This mindset shift changes us as providers—we see both the strengths and struggles of the families we serve. These practices can also change the way our patients and clients view their interactions with us, allowing them to see the spirit of care and empathy that motivates our work. Most importantly, HOPE-informed practice set the stage for collaborative problem-solving with families. When parents and families are viewed as complex individuals with strengths—rather than broken and needing to be fixed—providers can recognize families’ expertise in supporting their growing children. HOPE-informed practice shows us that providers should partner with parents, who trust us with insights into their families’ lives, entering into a collaborative relationship with shared goals.
But HOPE goes beyond the individual family, client/patient, and provider relationship. Glaring inequities in society, compounded by historical and current effects of systemic racism, have harmed and/or threatened many families, and these problems need to be addressed at a systems level. Below, I list some systemic issues that require resolution.