18 episodes

Seen Out Loud is a show about disrupting the child welfare system by the simple act of seeing families in their full humanity. I’m your host Matt Anderson. I am incredibly curious about people’s stories and endlessly impatient with the status quo. I’ve witnessed how seeing people for who they truly are, and learning from their stories, offers new perspectives and compelling insights that can lead to radical transformation of America’s foster care system. Join me in listening to families share deeply personal stories about their experiences with the child welfare system. Hear them express how the moments they were finally seen and valued shaped the trajectories of their lives. In this podcast, I accompany these stories with conversations about the work happening on the front lines of the family well-being movement—a collective effort aimed at meeting the needs of families to prevent systems intervention and the removal of children from parents. Hear leaders of the movement describe how they are actively building a future where families are engaged in systems work and have what they need to stay together and thrive.My life’s work has been dedicated to listening to and serving families. I have a master’s degree in social work and nearly 20 years of collective experience in youth engagement, child welfare practice, public policy, organizational leadership, and documentary film production. I am the director of Institute for Family, a division of Children’s Home Society of North Carolina, which uses the power of storytelling and collective thinking to elevate and prioritize family well-being.

Seen Out Loud Institute for Family

    • Science
    • 4.9 • 42 Ratings

Seen Out Loud is a show about disrupting the child welfare system by the simple act of seeing families in their full humanity. I’m your host Matt Anderson. I am incredibly curious about people’s stories and endlessly impatient with the status quo. I’ve witnessed how seeing people for who they truly are, and learning from their stories, offers new perspectives and compelling insights that can lead to radical transformation of America’s foster care system. Join me in listening to families share deeply personal stories about their experiences with the child welfare system. Hear them express how the moments they were finally seen and valued shaped the trajectories of their lives. In this podcast, I accompany these stories with conversations about the work happening on the front lines of the family well-being movement—a collective effort aimed at meeting the needs of families to prevent systems intervention and the removal of children from parents. Hear leaders of the movement describe how they are actively building a future where families are engaged in systems work and have what they need to stay together and thrive.My life’s work has been dedicated to listening to and serving families. I have a master’s degree in social work and nearly 20 years of collective experience in youth engagement, child welfare practice, public policy, organizational leadership, and documentary film production. I am the director of Institute for Family, a division of Children’s Home Society of North Carolina, which uses the power of storytelling and collective thinking to elevate and prioritize family well-being.

    Addressing Poverty to Keep Families Together with Sarah Winograd

    Addressing Poverty to Keep Families Together with Sarah Winograd

    Sarah Winograd’s journey as a “professional volunteer” led to the realization that poverty was a driving factor in the child removals in the families she was working with. See how Sarah mobilized her community to address family poverty to help families stay together. Through the Together for Families program, Sarah lives out her vision of supporting families by helping them meet basic needs.
    Show Notes
    00:00:30  | Matt opens this episode reflecting on the child welfare system’s association between poverty and neglect

    00:01:10  | Meet Sarah Winograd: Program Manager for Together for Families, Advocates for Children, and an adoptive mom.

    00:05:05  | Back in the U.S. as an adult, Sarah dedicated herself to volunteering where she would begin spending a lot of her time working with youth formerly in foster care in New York and later in Georgia.

    00:06:45  | Sarah talks about the first case she worked on as a CASA volunteer in Georgia.

    00:10:37  | Who was representing and supporting the mom in Sarah’s case? 

    00:11:28  | Sarah explains the “ah-ha” moment she experienced while talking to one of the children in the family. This helped her fill in gaps that were missing from the family’s case file.

    00:15:20  | Matt and Sarah discuss a shift in thinking around the reason Sarah became a CASA volunteer—from helping kids to helping the whole family. 

    00:17:38  | Sarah explains some of the support she provided to the family while staying within the boundaries of her role as a CASA volunteer.

    00:20:37  | Sarah shares how she received the reputation for the "resource queen” by helping families not on her case load meet their basic needs and stay in-tact.

    00:22:59  | Sarah shares her findings  on poverty as a driver of child welfare involvements, as well as how her colleagues felt about the realities of the families they served.

    00:25:10  | Sarah talks about the conversation with her CASA supervisor.

    00:30:54  | Matt reflects on the punitive structure of the child welfare system and Sarah’s approach to seeing families for their strengths and with empathy, rather than defining them by their circumstances.

    00:32:14  | What’s next for Sarah after CASA? 

    00:41:14  | Sarah’s vision of what’s next for the Together for Families program.

    00:44:40  | Advice for people seeing the same issues in their community who want to address the needs of families.

    00:45:53  | Final thoughts from Matt Anderson.

    Resources
    Together for Families | Advocates for Children 
    Georgia ranks 38th in the Nation for Child and Family Well-Being | Georgia Family Connection Partnership 
    One promise became a lifelong mission for this Atlanta family advocate | CBS46 
    Cobb County, GA Child Welfare Stats | Fostering Court Improvement 
    A Key Connection: Economic Stability and Family Well-being | Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago 
    Child Welfare: Purposes, Federal Programs, and Funding | Congressional Research Service Reports 
    Child Welfare Financing SFY 2018: A survey of federal, state, and local expenditures | Child Trends 

    • 47 min
    In the Community, Of the Community with Cherie Craft

    In the Community, Of the Community with Cherie Craft

    Cherie Craft, the founding CEO and Executive Director of Smart from the Start, talks about her organization’s unique approach to engaging communities and addressing conditions to enhance child and family well-being. Cherie references a previous episode of Seen Out Loud with Matthew Jackson to explain how Smart from the Start builds trust with families. Cherie also offers advice for other organizational leaders on relationship building, reducing recidivism rates, and incorporating social justice into community work.

    00:00:23  | Matt recaps the last episode S2, E5: The Impact of Community Conditions with Matthew Jackson

    00:02:36  | What is Smart from the Start and what are they all about?

    00:07:39  | What is Cherie’s “secret sauce” to building trust with families?   

    00:08:52  | Why don’t families trust social workers and service-providing organizations that come into communities?

    00:10:14  | Cherie shares how Smart from the Start operates

    00:13:03  | Cherie talks about how she saw Matthew when he first approached her at Smart from the Start.   

    00:18:00  | Cherie talks about baking a strengths-based approach to seeing families into Smart from the Start’s culture.

    00:20:10  | Matt and Cherie recall a story Matthew shared in S2, E5: The Impact of Community Conditions with Matthew Jackson

    00:25:27  | Matt asks Cherie about what happens when something her team vouches for doesn’t come to fruition. 

    00:29:06  | Matt asks Cherie how Smart from the Start responds to skeptics of her organization.

    00:33:11  | Cherie shares more about her origin story.

    00:36:44  | Cherie shares how her organization’s foundation impacts the recidivism rate for fully engaged families in organizational programs.

    00:39:50  | Cherie explains Smart from the Start’s intentional approach to addressing systemic issues impacting families and the new program, Justice 4.

    00:47:22  | Matt, an organizational leader at Children’s Home Society of N.C. and the Institute for Family asks advice from Cherie for leaders like him that feel like they don’t have relatable stories to use as building blocks when connecting with families. 

    00:49:12  | Final thoughts from host Matt Anderson. 
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    • 50 min
    The Impact of Community Conditions with Matthew Jackson

    The Impact of Community Conditions with Matthew Jackson

    In this episode, Matthew Jackson explains how the community conditions he grew up in influenced the trajectory of his life into adulthood, and the difficulties he experienced with leaving “Jungle” in the past and charting a new path for the betterment of his family. Listen as Matthew shares his story as a single father, passionately invested in his daughter’s life, and how he’s helping other dads, with similar beginnings in Boston, MA and Washington, D.C. 
    [Warning: This conversation contains explicit language]

    Show Notes
    00:00:26  | Matt starts the conversation on what he means by child welfare reform.

    00:01:18  | Meet Matthew Jackson.

    00:04:17  | Matthew talks about parenting his  10-year-old daughter.

    00:06:44  | Matthew’s take on how options presented in his community during his youth strongly impacted the trajectory of his early years into adulthood.

    00:09:53  | Matthew explains how baseball provided him and his peers a vision of a way out of his neighborhood and the surrounding circumstances.

    00:12:06  | How Matthew arrived at the decision to push his baseball dreams aside and pursue the hustle culture that consumed his community and––one by one––each of his teammates and friends.

    00:13:50  | Matthew shares how he received his nickname “Jungle” and how the creation of this persona helped him survive in a community where lives were often cut short.

    00:17:22  | Matthew recalls the beginnings of his relationship with his then-girlfriend and eventually becoming a first-time dad. 

    00:20:08  | Matthew reflects on the conflict he experienced while wrestling with how he would provide for his family.

    00:21:49  | On Halloween 2014, Matthew’s life changed forever–– he describes the events that take place which hurled him into the role of a single father.

    00:24:49  | Matthew shares how wrestling with the grief of the loss of his girlfriend, as well as his newfound responsibility as the sole provider for his daughter, brought him to the decision to leave hustling in his past and chart a new path. 

    00:27:42  | Matthew explains the difficulties of earning low wages at a retail job and providing for his daughter.

    00:31:17  | Matthew shares the impact of the district attorneys on his case postponing his trial and later putting Matthew on probation instead of in jail.

    00:35:35  | Matt poses a question to listeners as he reflects on Matthew’s story.

    00:36:30  | Matthew shares more on his involvement with Smart from the Start.

    00:37:34  | What are some things Matthew is hearing from other dads he works with at Smart from the Start about how they’re viewed and treated as fathers in communities?

    00:38:55  | What exactly does Matthew do when working with fathers in the Focusing on Fatherhood program? 

    00:41:46  | Matt shares final thoughts

    Resources
    Smart from the Start
    Fatherhood Organizations | Child Welfare Information Gateway

    Bonus Content
    Photo album

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    • 43 min
    The Risk and Power of Storytelling with Keri Hope Richmond

    The Risk and Power of Storytelling with Keri Hope Richmond

    Keri Hope Richmond, Child Welfare Policy Advocate, Speaker, and Podcast Host, joins Matt Anderson in conversation on engaging storytellers with lived experience with the child welfare system. Listen as Keri talks about her experiences sharing her story about navigating foster care—some empowering and some not—and the lessons she’s learned along the way. She also passes along advice to organizations on the do’s and don’t’s in engaging storytellers with lived expertise.

    Show Notes
    00:02:55  | When was the first time Keri publicly shared her story?   
    00:04:46  | Keri expresses feeling anger leading up to the moment she shared her story. 
    00:06:41  | Keri shares what it was like shifting from anger to empowerment.   
    00:10:10  | Keri talks about her experiences stepping into her role as a storyteller with lived expertise leading up to her participation in TEDxKent State. 
    00:13:48  | How can including people with lived expertise at the organizational level as employees impact conversations and organizational priorities and policies?   
    00:17:05  | Keri shares an account of when she felt like her story and the sharing of her experiences were taken advantage of.   
    00:22:30  | Now, Keri is a part of Unbelievably Resilient, which hosts a storytelling platform and spurs important conversations about foster care and child welfare. 
    00:25:32  | Matt and Keri talk about key principles and practices for organizations to honor storytellers with lived expertise.
    00:27:44  | Final thoughts from Keri on engaging storytellers with lived experience.
    00:29:24  | Matt shares his final thoughts.

    Resources 
    What can you learn from a trash bag? By Keri Hope Richmond | TEDxKentState 
    Episode 40: Keri Richmond | Fostering Change 
    Healed People Heal People With Former Foster Youth Keri Hope Richmond | Around the World with Archibald Project 
    Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute  
    Advocacy | American Academy of Pediatrics 
    Learn more about UR and their team of storytellers | Unbelievably Resilient 
    Bonus Content 
    4 Tips on How To Use Storytelling In Your Work
    The Unlearning of Child Welfare, Part 3 with co-host Keri Hope Richmond | The Institute for Family 
    A Conversation with the FosterStrong (now Unbelivibly Resilient) | The Institute for Family YouTube

    Visiting our podcast

    • 30 min
    In Search of Belonging with Sana L. Cotten, Part Two

    In Search of Belonging with Sana L. Cotten, Part Two

    Pick up where part one left off with Sana L. Cotten on her journey to find answers about her family history. In this episode, Sana, who has never met her father, goes on a 10-year search to locate her paternal family and find belonging. She reflects on how her unfulfilled need for family connection after entering foster care has impacted her through adulthood. Matt Anderson shares thoughts about the importance of being mindful of the emotional well-being of youth in foster care in addition to their physical safety when placing them into care.

    Show Notes

    00:00:30  | S2 E3: In Search of Belonging with Sana L. Cotten, Part One is a prelude to the conversation that continues here.  

    00:02:09  | To learn her paternal history, Sana takes an Ancestry® DNA test which leads her to finding her birth certificate and her mother’s marriage certificate. 

    00:05:00  | TV personality and specialist in finding long-lost family members, Troy Dunn of “The Locator” (2008-2010) and his team agree to help Sana follow up on the information from her mother’s marriage certificate.  

    00:06:00  | Why do children in foster care want to know their family history?

    00:07:19  | Sana applies to another TV show, “Relative Race” (2016-Present). The producers and their team take control of Sana’s Ancestry® account in search of clues to help Sana reconnect with her paternal family. 

    00:09:40  | Sana gets reconnected with her uncle and gets an opportunity to ask the burning question, “Do you know who my dad is?”Sana is able to share this name with the genealogist that was able to finally help her get closer to her father. 

    00:11:58  | After a 10-year journey of trying to find her father, Sana describes her internal experience before she contacts the family member the genealogist found in Sana’s family tree. 

    00:14:58  | Hear from Sana on the importance of finding family for youth in care and adoptees. 

    00:15:20  | Sana calls her family contact who she discovers is her father’s brother.

    00:18:19  | On New Year’s Eve of 2020, Sana calls and meets her siblings, two older brothers, over the phone. 

    00:20:40  | Sana meets more of her family at the family reunion for her paternal family in April 2022. 

    00:23:56  | Sana reflects on a photo of her as a young girl when she sat on the stoop of her aunt’s trailer feeling like she didn’t belong and how it captured her feelings from childhood until now.  

    00:26:50  | Matt shares his final thoughts. 


    Resources

    Meet Sana L. Cotten 
    Book: “Everyone will know it was God” by Sana L. Cotten 
    The Social and Emotional Well-Being of Children in Foster Care| National Conference on State Legislators 
    Creating and Maintaining Meaningful Connections | Child Welfare Information Gateway  
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    • 28 min
    In Search of Belonging with Sana L. Cotten, Part One

    In Search of Belonging with Sana L. Cotten, Part One

    Determined to discover where she came from, Sana L. Cotten recalls her ventures to uncover her past, face her family’s trauma, and reconnect with relatives who are part of her story. Hear from Sana how the process of learning about her birth family after adoption has helped her break generational cycles, shape her identity, and begin a journey to healing through empathy. 
    Trigger Warning: Descriptions of rape and sex trafficking

    Show Notes
    00:01:19  | Meet Sana L. Cotten, as she recalls, through the reading of her case files, how she and her twin brother were taken by child protective services as children after undergoing traumatic experiences in their home.

    00:06:24  | Sana paints a picture of life as a young child in Bridgeport, Connecticut

    00:09:30  | Sana describes the limited relationship she had with her mom as a result of being in foster care and her mother being incarcerated.

    00:11:05  | Sana shares a memory of her mother’s attempt to visit Sana at her foster home, which was rejected by Sana’s foster mother.

    00:14:58  | Sana talks about her experience of being adopted, still yearning for a relationship with her mother, and beginning a journey to find her. 

    00:15:38  | Sana learns that her birth mother, who was incarcerated, had been longing to connect with the twins.

    00:17:46  | Matt asks Sana about the opportunities she had to ask her mother about the details of her childhood.

    00:19:38  | Sana shares her experience of developing a relationship with her mother once she was released from prison and why it was brought to a halt.

    00:21:10  | Sana recalls being 18 years old and pregnant and feeling an urge for her birth mother’s presence after being written off by her adoptive family.

    00:24:18  | Sana learns of her birth mother’s passing. She recalls being angry and feeling victimized because of the harmful events she endured as a young child.

    00:26:28  | Sana reflects on impact of the reunion she had with her uncle on her healing journey as she learned more about her family’s history and her mother’s regrets. 

    00:31:12  | Matt reflects on the nuanced conversation on framing experiences with ‘what happened to you’ versus ‘what’s wrong with you’ with guest Dr. Bruce Perry as it applies to Sana’s journey finding love for the inner child of her mother.  See more on S1 E3: PEOPLE CHANGE THROUGH STORIES.
     
    00:33:55  | Sana shares that she originally intended on learning more about her dad when she reunited with her uncle.
     
    Resources
    Meet Sana L. Cotten
    Book: “Everyone will know it was God” by Sana L. Cotten
    Connections Matter: Relationships with Birth Families are Important for Foster, Adopted Children | The Imprint
    Human Trafficking | Child Welfare Information Gateway
    Child Trafficking and the Child Welfare System | Polaris Project
    Connect Our Kids

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    • 35 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
42 Ratings

42 Ratings

Caitd12 ,

Refreshing Perspective

I was assigned to listen to a podcast for class that addressed child welfare. What drew me to this podcast was that it seemed like you were looking at a new perspective: the parents. Not only were you sharing their stories of working with the system, you also ask you guest a new question: What did you need during that time in you life? From the episodes I listen too most of the parents need either compassion or to be listen to or both! I found it invaluable to hear this perspective and furthermore learn how we can actually help those who need these services. Thank you for sharing these stories, Caitlin Doherty

Neesenbennet ,

Compelling Story - Gina Wassemiller

I began casually listening to Gina’s story not expecting to be triggered in a way that would give me a sense of clarity and peace that I never knew I needed. I am inspired and hopeful through her shared journey.

Nmoose531 ,

I listened to almost the whole season in one day!

This podcast is incredible! I am a mom to two boys adopted from the foster care system and I can relate to so much of what is shared here. Early on I listened to a talk by an adoptive mom of 8 that profoundly shaped my views on birth family involvement. She said “if I can love more than one child, then why wouldn’t my child be able to love more than one mom?” Whole heartedly embraced this and although the kids couldn’t be reunified, the long term relationship with birth family has been really positive. I like the angle of this podcast…very inspiring. Thank you for telling these stories!

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