“It takes a village to raise a child,” is an African proverb that most of us have heard and many have spoken – especially for those in helping professions or roles that support children and families. In many cultures, the meaning of the proverb remains sincere and yet the families and communities providing support are strained.

The influx and prevalence of substance use and the devastation, trauma, victimization, and neglect caused by the drug crisis prompt us to consider a new way forward. The village is evolving, taking on expanded meaning and significance in support of a collective interest to guide and serve children and youth to be well, healthy, and prosperous. The village, while still family-focused, has and continues to grow towards including various systems – schools, social services, law enforcement, first responders, justice systems, faith-based communities, healthcare providers, and more. After all, if it takes a village to raise a child, then everyone in that village should know how to help every child in that community.

In a community, no one is ever alone. For a child experiencing neglect, abuse, or going through other forms of trauma, feeling supported and connected is critical. Through our work, we strengthen skills and provide support by sharing knowledge, resource, and training, and technical assistance supporting those comprising the “village” to care for our most vulnerable victims of the substance use crisis, our young people.

A village is a community. Community is connection. We can only help children grow if the connections around them are growing too.

It’s time we rethink how to help those in need; it’s time to Rethink the Village.