We all share the common trait of being human, but we are all different. Each one of us is unique, and our human experiences do not stand alone. Rather, they are connected to the sociocultural, economic, psychosocial, historical, and political contexts that shape our view of the world. These connections influence how we develop the skills we need to survive. It is only when we acknowledge and accept that we are all different in how we see, experience, and understand our world that we will respect and embrace the beauty in our diversity. Only then will we accept that the voices of youth, families, and communities from diverse backgrounds are central in guiding any practice or policy that affects their lives. We must unite together, act as agents of social change and social justice, and use our diverse experiences and understanding of the world to create an equitable society where all members from every community feel included and know that they matter.
The Diverse Racial Ethnic and Multicultural Special Interest Group (DREAM SIG) is the first SIG established within the Society for Child and Family Policy and Practice (Div. 37) of the American Psychological Association (APA). Div. 37 is committed to the application of psychological science to engage in advocacy, social justice, service delivery, and public policies to improve the lives of children, youth, and families in a diverse and inclusive society. DREAM SIG was created in an effort to continue to promote health equity, advocate for policy changes, and actively address issues impacting children, youth, and families from historically underrepresented diverse populations and communities. DREAM SIG’s vision is to promote training, education, policy, and practice focused on diverse, racial, ethnic, and multicultural issues and to support collaborative exchange among members who share similar interests. Its goal is to provide members with the opportunity to engage in meaningful collaboration, community outreach and engagement, and information dissemination and exchange on local, national, and international levels that advances the mission of Div. 37 and the SIG.
DREAM SIG formation: In 2019, a survey of Div. 37 members and affiliates was conducted to explore members’ interests and to determine key topics and activities they valued most. Upon analysis of the survey data, an informational conference call was held with members in the spring of 2020 to discuss the results and get members’ feedback on priorities and action steps for the SIG. Three focus areas were identified: (1) training and education; (2) community outreach and engagement; and (3) information dissemination. In collaboration with Div. 37, the APA Children, Youth, and Families office, and the APA Public Interest Government Relations Office (PI-GRO), DREAM SIG was launched on June 5, 2020. The launch featured a special webinar presentation on how policies affect families around COVID-19 and how psychologists, other professionals, and local community members can help. The presentation was led by Anita Thomas, past president of Div. 37, and moderated by Mirian Ofonedu, Div. 37 member-at-large, taskforce and diversity issues coordinator, and past program chair. The launch attracted over 125 registrants from around the world.
Students and professionals—at any stage of their career—who are Div. 37 members can join DREAM SIG and contribute to achieving its mission. Members have the opportunity to participate in the Leading Effectively and Diligently (LEAD) group, a peer-collaboration group that meets virtually the first Friday of every other month, 3–4 p.m. EST. The LEAD group serves as an opportunity for members to meet virtually for a shared reflection and discussion. These meetings help to strengthen members’ skills related to interaction with clients, training and education, supervision of students and staff, direction of counseling centers and agencies, and research with diverse populations. They also offer members the opportunity to give and receive support from their peers while promoting their feelings of togetherness. To find out how you can play a role in our efforts, please contact Mirian Ofonedu or complete this survey.