Due to COVID-19, children currently are not physically attending school or programs staffed by mandated reporters of suspected child abuse and neglect. Reports to child protective services have decreased significantly. Some quickly jumped to the conclusion that abuse and neglect may be going undetected and unreported.
However, parents and advocates provide another perspective and explain that the drop in calls is not necessarily the problem the media assumes. In fact, 90% of school personnel hotline calls turn out not be abuse or neglect.
The Rise series Surveillance Isn’t Safety began with a focus on schools because NYC schools call in 26% of NYC reports to the state child abuse and neglect hotline. Parents have described the harm caused to their families when schools did not support them, but then reported them.
Here, Rise highlights steps that the Department of Education (DOE) and individual schools, as well as our city and state child welfare agencies, ACS and OFCS, and others can take to better support families and reduce unnecessary reports.
Interview with Kelley Fong, PhD candidate in Sociology and Social Policy at Harvard University, Author of “Concealment and Constraint: Child Protective Services Fears and Poor Mothers’ Institutional Engagement”.
By Keyna Franklin, Rise Parent Leader, and Careena Farmer, Rise Contributor
Throughout our series on surveillance, Rise has exposed how child welfare surveillance harms families and communities, particularly low-income communities and communities of color. Far too often, when families are struggling, the response they are met with is a … Read More
For months before I caught my case with child protective services, I was dealing with my daughter Brianna’s behavioral issues. She was a bubbly little gymnast who liked to do cartwheels all over the place. But she was also very destructive, breaking things, hurting herself and stealing. She was 6.
A few days before the school called in the case, I met with Brianna’s teacher, parent coordinator, and guidance counselor. They told me that Brianna was interrupting class, sliding across the floor, being rude to teachers and stealing other students’ snacks.
I knew that Brianna had developmental challenges, but I didn’t know her behavior was going this far. I was shocked, and mad at my daughter.
Two days after the meeting I spanked Brianna because she started throwing things after I asked her to clean off her bed. I didn’t normally spank my children. But I was so fed up with her behavior. And I didn’t know what else to do.
On December 21, 2015, the school social worker called in the case. That started a 5-year ordeal with ACS that tore my family apart and caused many new problems.
My son was in several daycare centers starting when he was 6 weeks old. I checked them all out carefully and, in all of them, my son was almost always happy when I picked him up. I felt secure. My worries started when I moved him to a daycare that was close to our home. From the beginning, I was alarmed when I’d come to pick up my son. The kids were screaming and running around. Then my son started telling me daily about different kids hitting him.
There came a time when there’d been four incidents in seven days! I felt hopeless and angry. I thought of a time when a foster parent had told me that I wasn’t allowed to sit on the couch because it was only for their children, not foster children. I felt like I always felt as a child in the system: that no one cared. I felt like no one was there to support me or my child. But I also wanted to grow from being that foster child to a successful parenting adult. So that night I decided to email the director.