An Open Letter from Thom’s Executive Director & Thom’s Board President to Staff, Families, and Community Partners:
June 2, 2020
Last Friday I sat down at my computer to type a letter to anyone who wanted to read it. I felt compelled to write about the worry and anxiety we all faced as Massachusetts carefully began re-opening. I had been hearing from colleagues at other nonprofits, parents receiving early intervention, and our own dedicated staff at Thom. Last Friday, I felt a responsibility to keep our staff, our early intervention families, and our communities safe while still ensuring that children and families had access to critical Early Intervention services. Today, I acknowledge that we need so much more. We stand together to show our support and our solidarity for our staff and our families of color. We need to recognize and mourn the senseless death of George Floyd and far too many other victims of racism and injustice.
While reflecting on the deeply personal work of Early Intervention and the relationships we form with families, grandparents, caregivers and community partners, I wrote the following paragraph last week.
So…how do we move forward together? How do we ensure that families who need services receive them? How do we make sure that inequities in access to care are not perpetuated? How do we keep our dedicated and amazing staff safe? How do we keep families and communities safe? There are so many questions and information from leading experts continues to evolve. This is perhaps the most challenging part about forming a response to the coronavirus – research and data-based information is expanding daily.
I wrote that paragraph to explain why it was not yet time for Thom Child and Family Services clinicians to begin in-person visits, but now, these same questions take on an additional meaning and a heightened emergency. As a community based nonprofit and as agents of public health, we have a responsibility to be part of a solution. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s mission, “to prevent illness, injury, and premature death, to assure access to high quality public health and health care services, and to promote wellness and health equity for all people in the Commonwealth” is our shared starting point. Our statewide system began working to address racial inequities before the coronavirus pandemic and that work continues now. It is needed now more than ever.
As an agency grounded in the communities we serve, Thom Child and Family Services, recognizes the need to engage in meaningful racial equity work. We recognize that health inequities continue and we have a role to play in ensuring families who need our services are able to receive them. We appreciate the Health Equity funding we received from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to address barriers to accessing services through telepractice. We appreciate other funding partners as well including The Dean Foundation for Little Children, The Foundation for MetoWest, Sprint/T-Mobile, and private donors who have helped us remove barriers to services. We are currently seeking additional grant funding to help sustain our critical work and address inequities in access to services. This has been identified as a critical priority for our agency. We need this funding because we need to do this work!
In the meantime we strive to learn, to grow, to acknowledge mistakes, to be part of a solution, to challenge each other and to engage in meaningful work together. The crisis that is unfolding across our country and on our televisions and social media feeds is not new but the need is urgent and gut-wrenching.
Thom stands firmly against racism and injustice. Our work, to be part of the solution, must continue. As an agent of change, we are eager to and will continue to explore options for continued progress. Of all the powerful quotes from the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr., this one comes to mind now, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase”.
Sincerely and with much gratitude for all we stand for together,
Gretchen Rowe, Executive Director
Arthur Hughes, Board President