Hi there, A Home Within Community! I’m Candice Simonds. As the California Clinical Director for the A Home Within-CASA Therapy Project, I lead our collaboration to expand telehealth by identifying strategic partnerships. Recently, I had the privilege of having a Sunday fireside chat about social work practice and youth in foster care with Aisha Henry, Clinical Director for our DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia) Chapter. I was eager to learn more about her experiences as a professional social worker and hear how A Home Within aligns with her clinical priorities. I was immediately impacted by the scope and breadth of her commitment to reimagining clinical practice as a space that is concerned with humanity, love, and community. I hope you’ll enjoy reading the Q&A below and learning more about Aisha’s incredible work.
Candice: Tell me about your professional background.
Aisha: I have experience working in communities: with families living in poverty, with foster children who fall behind in school because they move around so much and don’t get help until they reach a certain level of acuity—and even then they are often not fully evaluated. They don’t get a full physical exam, psychotropic medication to address their trauma, or school evaluations to determine if a learning disability is impacting their behavior. There is no one really watching out for them because each system has competing ethics and values.
C: What values inform your clinical posture and what do you hope to cultivate?
A: It really is about understanding that love and unconditional support are basic human needs, just as important as air and water. To be disconnected from family and permanent sources of love is like walking outside with no ground. At this point in my career, I am speaking up because it has to be about our humanity and love. Apathy can no longer be an option in response to all the trauma that youth in foster care experience.
C: How did you first get involved with A Home Within, and why were you drawn to it?
A: I received an email from Reed and I’m drawn to the organization because it meets a basic need with no financial strings attached.
C: How do you think A Home Within is impacting youth in foster care?
A: The reasons I appreciate A Home Within are first, because you are offering therapy with no fiscal strings attached, the client and therapist have an actual possibility to develop a relationship, and second, the client, rather than a budget, gets to decide when therapy ends. A Home Within represents hope and positivity, which can be hard to find.
C: What would you say to someone who was considering volunteering with and/or donating to A Home Within?
A: I think I am still learning my pitch…I guess I would ask them, “What matters to you? Where are the gaps? Where is your heart?” Because of professional boundaries, we ignore our heart—we stop listening to it. It doesn’t mean that we have poor boundaries if we care and volunteering time is sacred.
C: Where do you see A Home Within headed in the next five to ten years? What would you like to see happen?
A: I would like to see us be more flexible in how we engage people in foster care—expand our offerings to advocacy, education, and really contribute to the knowledge of our communities because when you leave foster care, you often return to a dysfunctional community.
C: So far, what do you think is special about A Home Within?
A: Everyone is positive and hopeful. It’s energizing, and unfortunately, you don’t always experience people organized around a solution. And I cannot be silent anymore. I cannot tolerate apathy.
C: Love is a basic human right and the lack thereof as distancing us all from our own humanity is soul-stirring….it has been a privilege to speak with you today and I will look forward to hearing more from you in the days to come.
A Home Within is the only national organization dedicated solely to meeting the emotional needs of foster youth. Our volunteer therapists meet with a young person that they have committed to “for as long as it takes.” We identify, recruit, train, match, and support licensed therapists who each provide free, weekly, one-to-one therapy to a single foster youth.
We currently have a wait list of individuals seeking support through therapy. If you’re a licensed clinical therapist with one hour per week to spare, please consider volunteering with us and help us by spreading the word to your professional network. We provide access to a thriving national community of therapists, free and ongoing Continuing Education courses, and support from consultation groups.