Posts Tagged: Facing Race in Child Welfare

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

First You Have to Gain Our Trust – Parents’ prescriptions for keeping kids of color out of foster care.

The Birth Parent National Network, coordinated by the Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds, connects parent leaders nationwide. Here, BPNN members Jeffrey Mays, parent partner at the Public Children Services Association of Ohio in Cleveland; Shrounda Selivanoff, parent advocate at Evergreen Manor Inpatient Treatment and volunteer at Catalyst for Kids in Washington State; and Piazadora Footman, editorial assistant at Rise in New York, share parents’ perspectives on how to bring fewer children of color into the … 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

Black, Male, Addicted–and Underestimated – The child welfare system assumed I didn’t belong in my children’s lives.

Child welfare came into my life in 2000. At the time, I was married with three children, ages 14, 11 and a newborn. I was also an addict.

I used anything that got me high: glue, coke, heroin, valium. I started getting high to belong with the bad guys in the neighborhood and I continued for 35 years.

Because of my drug use, I could not hold a job for long and at times I was an … 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

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