Profile: Jared Brown of Child Welfare Nonprofit 'For Others'

Jared Brown gives us insight into his personal experiences with child welfare on his recent visit to Arkansas.
Jared Brown, Director of Strategic Partnerships at the Tennessee nonprofit For Others
Jared Brown (left) of the child welfare nonprofit 'For Others'

As an employee of For Others, Jared Brown is working with diligence and passion to improve outcomes for families impacted by the foster care system. What happened in Brown's life that made him see the need for a collaborative child welfare effort? On his recent visit to Arkansas to learn more about the 100 Families model, Brown shares the experiences that led him to be involved in For Others and child welfare work.

As he reflects, there were two instances in his past that impacted his heart for families and opened his eyes to the strategic need for community collaboration across private and public sectors.

His first encounter happened while he was living in Birmingham, Alabama as a single man and pastor of a church plant. There was a woman attending his church who asked Jared to keep her two boys, age 10 and 12, for a week. She was living with her boyfriend who had told her he didn’t want the boys living there anymore and he would kick them all out if she didn’t figure something out.

“There was nothing like 100 families,” says Jared, “There was nothing like a community working together to try and help [this mother].”

A week living with Jared turned into a year without DCFS ever being involved. Jared thinks back to how little he knew about the child welfare system and available resources and support. He considered it his role in the community and in the church to help this mother and protect these two boys, but he admits it was difficult without a unified collaborative effort.

After a year, Jared and his fiancé offered to adopt the two boys. Their mother declined and found another living situation for them. After a few years, Jared moved away and lost touch, only to eventually discover that both of those children had grown up to succumb to the cycle of drug abuse and crime that had plagued their family.

“Man, if they would have had a community,” Jared regrets. “We as a community should be about the well-being of the children and the families. We should surround DCFS. We should come to them all the way and say, ‘We got your back. We're going to help.’ I wish we would have known in our city about that.”

The second instance happened while Jared was living in Savanna, Georgia and once again someone at church approached him for help. It was a husband and wife whose two-month-old had been taken into state custody more than a year prior. They were desperate for assistance and support in getting their child back, but it had taken them a long time to summon the courage to ask because they were ashamed of what had happened.

The elders of the church got to work, again not understanding the system or how to work with the wider community.

“And so we as a church tried to take it on all by ourselves. We went to court on their behalf. We helped get them lawyers. We visited them in prison when they went to prison for a week because all these felony charges came up against them. We worked and fought for them to try and get their kid back. But we had no idea what existed.”

All of this led to Brown’s realization that the important work of protecting children and supporting families is too much for the church to take on alone and too much for the government to take on alone.

“It's going to take the private and the public working together,” Jared concludes.

Smart Justice is a magazine, podcast, and continuing news coverage from the nonprofit Restore Hope and covers the pursuit of better outcomes on justice system-related issues, such as child welfare, incarceration, and juvenile justice. Our coverage is solutions-oriented, focusing on the innovative ways in which communities are solving issues and the lessons that have been learned as a result of successes and challenges. 

The podcast is available on all major podcasting platforms.

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