Raheemah Shamsid-Deen Hampton: Protecting Vulnerable Children
In 2015, Bryn Mawr College’s Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research celebrated its 100th anniversary. To mark the occasion, a series of feature stories were written to showcase alumni who embody the school’s mission of “Professionals for Purposeful Action.”
“To do this kind of work, you have to step outside of yourself and work with families in a non-judgmental manner,” said Raheemah Shamsid-Deen Hampton, MSS ’02. “When you truly listen, you find out there are some very real issues people are dealing with that need to be addressed before things can get better.”
As the Southeast regional director for the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare’s Office of Children, Youth and Families, Shamsid-Deen Hampton leads the oversight of public and private child welfare agencies for six counties. She supervises a staff of 25, oversees close to $1 billion in child welfare funding and is responsible for more than 100,000 children receiving in-home, placement and prevention services.
“I’m doing the work I’m meant to do – it’s my life’s calling to take it all in and make the right decisions for children and families,” Shamsid-Deen Hampton said. “But because I have so much responsibility and oversee so many services that impact children, I always say that the day this work is no longer in my heart, is the day I walk away.”
Shamsid-Deen Hampton didn’t initially intend to work in child welfare. Two years after earning her bachelor’s degree in communication arts, she took a job as a line staffer in the Philadelphia Department of Human Services, working within the foster care system to connect clients with services and monitor at-risk families.
“In doing that work, I realized that this is where I was supposed to be, and I wanted the formal training to continue advocating for children and being the voice for these families,” Shamsid-Deen Hampton said. “When I looked around at my supervisors, the people in leadership positions in child welfare, all of those people went to Bryn Mawr, so it was my first choice for my master’s degree and the best decision I ever made.”
Shamsid-Deen Hampton was selected to participate in the Child Welfare Education for Leadership program, a cooperative effort among the United States Administration for Children and Families, the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, the Pennsylvania Child and Youth Administrators and eleven accredited schools of social work in Pennsylvania, including Bryn Mawr. The program provides educational funding for public child welfare personnel in an effort to strengthen child welfare services.
After earning her master’s degree and returning to the Philadelphia Department of Human Services, Shamsid-Deen Hampton was approached in 2006 to lead reform efforts at the organization. During that time, there was considerable turmoil and scrutiny due to leadership changes and the deaths of several children within the system.
Shamsid-Deen Hampton helped to implement systems, policies and procedures to reform home services, enhance contracts and provider evaluation and institute a quality assurance program. Her leadership and vision during this time paved the way for her current position.
“We had to take a serious look to make sure we were doing everything possible to make sure children were safe,” Shamsid-Deen Hampton said. “The education and experience I gained through Bryn Mawr gave me the confidence and validation I needed to work on the policy, research and analysis side and see how it all comes together to protect vulnerable children in Pennsylvania.”
Photo credit: Bryn Mawr University