Leadership, Kelis Houston

Kelis Houston is the Founder of Village Arms, and her work focuses on family preservation and reunification through parenting education, in-home visits, resource acquisition and advocacy with a cultural base.


Village Arms was created in direct response to the over-representation and disparate treatment of African Americans across the child welfare service continuum.


Kelis’ personal mission is to address and help eradicate these disparities through legislative action, youth and family advocacy, policy reform and community engagement.


She also serves as cultural consultant to child welfare staff, students and service providers. Her training is designed to bring a new level of cultural awareness to those working for and within the African American community; in an effort to achieve clearer lines of communication and a sensitivity to culture.


Kelis began her career in social services over a decade ago and has long served as a voice for marginalized communities.

To support the work of Village Arms, you may donate here.


Outreach, support, crisis intervention advocate needed.

The primary objective of this position is to provide outreach, support, crisis intervention, and advocacy services for African American children and families with open Hennepin County Child protection cases. Family liaisons will provide direct services to families as part of piloting the provisions of the Minnesota African American Family Preservation Act bill.  Family liaisons will work to meet the following goals of the pilot:

  • Safely reduce the disproportionate number of African American children removed from home or re-entering foster care

  • Increase frequency and timeliness of reunification by employing alternatives to African American CHIPS proceedings and TPR

  • Increase the number of African American children placed with non-custodial parents or relatives when OHP is the viable safety option

  • Decrease repeat reports and the number of African American cases opened for child protection case management.


Primary Responsibilities: (include but are not limited to)


  • Support the gathering of information during the child protection investigation

  • Support the social worker in making active efforts to identify and locate the child's relatives

  • Assist the parent or guardian to actively participate in creating the safety plan that addresses the child's basic needs while keeping the family intact

  • Conduct in-person/in-home visits to support the safety of children

  • Attend the family’s court hearings. Submit recommendations and provide additional details about the family’s circumstances and efforts

  • Provide progress reports to both the child protection social worker and the court on the family's progress and efforts

  • Assist the family with the social worker to consider alternatives to Termination of Parental Rights that resolve child endangerment and retain family connections through informal family arrangements

  • Develop relationships with community-based organizations to create a referral network

  • Advocate for family and children within community and governmental settings

  • Community engagement and outreach

  • Attend and participate in regularly scheduled meetings

  • Data collection

  • Other duties as assigned

Coverage: Some flexibility in scheduling. Must share weekend and on-call coverage with Family Liaisons to assist in providing service to families as needed.

Minimum Education and Experience:

  • Associates degree in human services, social work, or related field or five years of relevant experience or an equivalent combination of education, training and work experience. (Relevant experience includes advocacy and case management; crisis support with families and children.)

  • Persons with lived experience with child protection systems are encouraged to apply. (Lived experience includes persons that were children impacted by child protection, parents, foster parents and relatives.)

  • Must be able to work effectively in a mission-driven agency with the goals of seeking justice and reduction of racial disparities for African American children and families with open child protection cases.

  • Must be able to assist families in crisis, multitask, work remotely, be flexible, communicate well, make referrals from knowledge of community resources and connect families as appropriate

Ready to make a difference?

Submit resume and cover letter by 9/1/20 to admin@villagearms.org