Rise reports on the child welfare system with a goal of highlighting efforts to improve policies and practice and spotlighting effective practices.

The Color of Hope: Race can affect whether parents get the support to overcome.

My child welfare story (Shrounda) began when I moved into a neighborhood high in drug use and poverty. I was an African-American woman in my mid-30s, married with two children. I was arrogant—I thought I could control my drug use and that my surroundings wouldn’t affect me. Instead I found myself in the depth of an ever-evolving addiction. I went from using alcohol and cocaine to using crack daily. I desired so much out of … Read More

Race to the Top – Paying attention to race in child welfare is a first step to system change.

This issue of Rise is dedicated to looking at why families of color have higher rates of investigations, higher rates of foster care placement, and longer stays in care than White families, even when White parents and parents of color are facing similar allegations.

Inequality isn’t just in child welfare. It’s in the rundown playgrounds in our neighborhoods, the supermarkets without fresh food, the liquor stores on every corner, and the schools and hospitals that are … Read More

Like The Sky Being Blue – When I started working in child welfare, I was shocked by the institutional racism.

Before I began an internship as a social work student at the Child Welfare Organizing Project in East Harlem, I had no idea what the words “child welfare system” even meant. I grew up in Westchester County, New York. The families I knew had the means to deal with issues like substance abuse and domestic violence behind closed doors.

Listening to families in CWOP’s support group quickly opened my eyes to the reality that for families … Read More

Brokering Change – Parents and community leaders are key in reducing Black children in foster care.

In Fresno, Calif., “parent partners” and “cultural brokers” specially trained to build connections between the child welfare system and the Black community have helped bring down the number of Black children in foster care. Here, Deputy Director for Child Welfare Wendy Osikafo, Fresno County Parent Partners Ritchie Barker and Tina Jaso, and Cultural Broker LaTrina Bowen explain the reforms that have made a difference.

Q: What motivated change in Fresno?

Wendy Osikafo: Before 2003, Fresno’s child welfare … Read More

Order of Protection – Free legal services before removal can keep poor children safe at home.

As a parent advocate working in the child welfare system, I have seen cases where a little assistance in fixing housing repairs or helping a mother take out an order of protection could’ve kept a child safe. The problem is that poor parents can’t afford lawyers. That contributes to children of color coming into foster care, since they’re more likely to be living in poverty. Now, programs in Vermont, Washington, D.C., and Michigan are providing … Read More