Article

Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare

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Abstract

Shattered Bonds is a stirring account of a worsening American social crisis--the disproportionate representation of black children in the U.S. foster care system and its effects on black communities and the country as a whole. Tying the origins and impact of this disparity to racial injustice, Dorothy Roberts contends that child-welfare policy reflects a political choice to address startling rates of black child poverty by punishing parents instead of tackling poverty's societal roots. Using conversations with mothers battling the Chicago child-welfare system for custody of their children, along with national data, Roberts levels a powerful indictment of racial disparities in foster care and tells a moving story of the women and children who earn our respect in their fight to keep their families intact.

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... investigating a family when their child is not at imminent risk of abuse or neglect. As Dorothy Roberts [26] suggests, "[t]he disproportionate number of Black children under state supervision results from discriminatory decision-making within the system as well as racist institutions in the broader society. " However, as we will discuss below, disparities may be justifed: higher need or higher risk of abuse or neglect among children in one group of people could warrant a higher screen-in rate. ...
... Vaithianathan et al. [94] suggest that higher AFST Version 2 risk scores identify children with higher rates of injury-related hospitalizations, which may be closer to the kinds of target outcomes that workers actually consider when making decisions. 26 However, our results suggest that workers predict diferent outcomes depending on the specifc referral, many of which may not involve child hospitalization. Overall, our results in Section 6.2 complicate the argument that the AFST alone is more accurate than call screen workers, and point to critical directions for future research. ...
... For the same reasons, even partial or 'soft' automation (like the mandatory screen-in policy in the AFST 25 We measure the AFST's accuracy diferently than most prior work, much of which uses AUC (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve). 26 Note that AFST Version 2 also predicts foster care placement within 2 years, but not re-referral. ...
Conference Paper
Machine learning tools have been deployed in various contexts to support human decision-making, in the hope that human-algorithm collaboration can improve decision quality. However, the question of whether such collaborations reduce or exacerbate biases in decision-making remains underexplored. In this work, we conducted a mixed-methods study, analyzing child welfare call screen workers’ decision-making over a span of four years, and interviewing them on how they incorporate algorithmic predictions into their decision-making process. Our data analysis shows that, compared to the algorithm alone, workers reduced the disparity in screen-in rate between Black and white children from 20% to 9%. Our qualitative data show that workers achieved this by making holistic risk assessments and adjusting for the algorithm’s limitations. Our analyses also show more nuanced results about how human-algorithm collaboration affects prediction accuracy, and how to measure these effects. These results shed light on potential mechanisms for improving human-algorithm collaboration in high-risk decision-making contexts.
... However, there is also a concern that engagement with public assistance programs writ large may generate risk for child welfare involvement due to increased surveillance by program staff and personnel (Drake et al., 2017;Fong, 2017;Foster, 2012), instead of individual caregiver factors such as stress and maltreatment risk. Many child welfare researchers have long contended that oversurveillance, of Black communities in particular (Dettlaff & Boyd, 2020;Roberts, 2002), coupled with the racialized nature of poverty in the United States is associated with the disproportionate risk of child welfare involvement (Dettlaff et al., 2021), regardless of actual maltreatment risk. ...
... Though there is little previous research on the relationship between centralized reporting systems and report patterns, a recent study found that states who shifted to a centralized reporting system saw significant increases of child maltreatment reports, but decreases in the number of substantiated reports (Day et al., 2021). Therefore, though there are concerns that centralized reporting systems may be another element of "state surveillance" (Roberts, 2002;2008), our findings suggest that centralized reporting systems may not portend this level of risk for the short-staying population. Next, the model showed that living in states with greater food insecurity was associated with lower odds of short-stays, but that living in states with more of the state population on SNAP was associated with greater odds of a short-stay. ...
... With respect to our study, the finding that all racial and ethnic child populations other than White non-Hispanic had greater odds of being placed in child welfare settings for shortstays, reinforces the call to critically address the disproportionately racialized nature of child welfare involvement, pathways, and outcomes (Dettlaff & Boyd, 2020). This is especially salient when considering surveillance has long been understood to be a racialized phenomenon affecting specific communities, namely Black and Indigenous communities (Roberts, 2002;Edwards, 2019). That surveillance emerges as a significant indicator of short-stay risk alongside the child-level race and ethnicity indicators suggests that issues of racial disproportionality should be addressed for short-stayers as well. ...
Article
Growing attention has been directed toward children who are placed in out-of-home care by child welfare authorities for less than 30 days, deemed "short-stayers". This exploratory study uses multiple national child welfare and population data sources to identify macro level factors associated with short-stays. Two-level logistic regression modeling was conducted to explore how state-level factors were associated with risk of short-stays. Factors associated with lower odds of short-stays included living in a state with a centralized child welfare reporting structure and with greater food insecurity. Factors associated with greater odds included living in a state with a higher percentage of the state's population enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and states with more police per capita. Multiple state level factors were associated short-stay risk, which suggests broader systemic factors contribute to these brief removals. Findings suggest greater surveillance by police and social services increases risk of short-stays, which likely have implications for child welfare policy and practice.
... Studies suggest that community members and mandated reporters (e.g., police, school and medical personnel), could be biased in their decision-making and report Black families to child welfare authorities (Boyd, 2014;Cénat et al., 2021;Chibnall et al., 2003;Roberts, 2002). Reporter bias may emanate from reporters' preconceived notions about what constitute appropriate parenting practice, lack of commonality between reporters and Black families, and the stereotypical views and assumptions reporters may have about Black families (Adjei & Minka, 2018;Boyd, 2014;Cénat et al., 2021;Chibnall et al., 2003;Clarke, 2011;Miller, Cahn, Anderson-Nathe, Cause, & Bender, 2013;Miller, Cahn, & Orellana, 2012). ...
... These risk factors are connected to maltreatment (Bartholet, 2009;Dettlaff & Boyd, 2020). The poverty Black families experience may be as result of systemic inequities and racism that place them at risk for child welfare involvement (Dettlaff & Boyd, 2020;Roberts, 2002). We therefore argue that the overrepresentation Black children experience in the child welfare system cannot be explained solely by poverty and its associated risk factors, but also to racism and its impact on Black families (Dettlaff & Boyd, 2020;Roberts, 2002). ...
... The poverty Black families experience may be as result of systemic inequities and racism that place them at risk for child welfare involvement (Dettlaff & Boyd, 2020;Roberts, 2002). We therefore argue that the overrepresentation Black children experience in the child welfare system cannot be explained solely by poverty and its associated risk factors, but also to racism and its impact on Black families (Dettlaff & Boyd, 2020;Roberts, 2002). In explaining Black children's overrepresentation, we have to look at many factors including race, poverty, risk, child, parent/caregiver, family, neighbourhood, caseworker, and organizational characteristics (Boyd, 2014;Cénat et al., 2021;Fluke, Harden, Jenkins, Ruehrdanz, & MacCarthy, 2010;Roberts, 2002). ...
Article
Background The overrepresentation Black children experience in the child welfare system is well documented in the United States, but such studies are now emerging in Canada. In Ontario, there are few studies that address this issue concerning Black families. Objective This study is to explore the insights of child welfare workers and community service providers on how to potentially address Black children's overrepresentation in Ontario's child welfare system. Participants and setting Twenty-one child welfare workers from two child welfare organizations in Ontario that serves many Black families and thirteen community service providers in Toronto participated in the study. Methods Six focus groups were conducted with thirty-four participants. Audio recording from each of the focus groups was manually transcribed verbatim. We utilized constant comparison analysis to analyse the transcribed data. Results Potential solutions to overrepresentation that emerged from the focus group discussions included viewing Black families as experts of their own lives; increasing workforce diversity; educating referral sources and Black families on child welfare practices; subjecting referral sources to detailed questioning; stopping harmful record keeping on families; providing cultural sensitivity training and education; partnering with community organizations; and providing mentorship opportunities. Conclusions The findings from this study emphasize the need for changes related to child welfare assessment tools, workforce development, and shifts in system orientation to address systemic racism and Black children's overrepresentation in the child welfare system.
... Others argue that PRMs risk "coding over the cracks" without addressing the foundational flaws in child welfare, and that communities should instead organize around systemic improvements to address these flaws [47]. Others still argue that CPS is not a flawed system but a carceral one that plays a dual, paradoxical role [32,94,103,105] to police families while supporting them -and that the supportive, "welfare" side is an over-stated veneer to cover up the real carceral side [108]. These critics argue that PRMs introduce new ways for CPS to police Black, Indigenous, and poor families [2,107,108]. ...
... [PRMs] could just as easily be measuring the extent of racism, the extent of surveillance. " This hearkens back to Roberts' [103] call to "measure the extent of community damage caused by the child welfare system." For example, data-driven tools could be used to evaluate CPS workers, like they have been used on other street-level bureaucrats [22]. ...
... P23, a parent, said, "we have to be part of the language that's controlling and setting the laws and that's... happening at every level of engagement for our families." Roberts [103] argues to shift control of CPS to Black families, specifically. Participants said families should be more involved around how new technologies are used and created (P1,P2,P5,P7,P10,P13,P14,P15,P22,P29). ...
Preprint
Child welfare agencies across the United States are turning to data-driven predictive technologies (commonly called predictive analytics) which use government administrative data to assist workers' decision-making. While some prior work has explored impacted stakeholders' concerns with current uses of data-driven predictive risk models (PRMs), less work has asked stakeholders whether such tools ought to be used in the first place. In this work, we conducted a set of seven design workshops with 35 stakeholders who have been impacted by the child welfare system or who work in it to understand their beliefs and concerns around PRMs, and to engage them in imagining new uses of data and technologies in the child welfare system. We found that participants worried current PRMs perpetuate or exacerbate existing problems in child welfare. Participants suggested new ways to use data and data-driven tools to better support impacted communities and suggested paths to mitigate possible harms of these tools. Participants also suggested low-tech or no-tech alternatives to PRMs to address problems in child welfare. Our study sheds light on how researchers and designers can work in solidarity with impacted communities, possibly to circumvent or oppose child welfare agencies.
... Our study builds on prior work in the healthcare space by showing that virtual service provision similarly offers families involved with CPS greater opportunity to engage with services. This is particularly critical because one of the reasons that children may remain in the child welfare system is because of challenges parents may face juggling CPS-mandated services with their employment schedules, thereby criminalizing poverty (Keegan Eamon & Kopels, 2004;Roberts, 2002). However, virtual CPS visits also created privacy concerns, as many participants noted challenges guaranteeing confidentiality during visits. ...
... Additionally, while not necessarily a limitation, we recognize that few participants discussed the specific needs of communities of color, particularly Black and American Indian or Alaskan Native (AIAN) persons who are over-represented in the CPS system due to histories of racism that have perpetrated cycles of state-sanctioned violence and family separation (Palusci & Botash, 2021;Roberts, 2002). Furthermore, families of color (in the cited study, Black and Hispanic/Latino), as compared with non-Hispanic white parents, reported feeling like the CPS system and processes were less understandable (Cleveland & Quas, 2020). ...
Article
Background The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted children and young people experiencing child abuse and neglect. Child Protective Services (CPS) has played an important role in supporting children and families during the COVID-19 pandemic. Few studies to-date have evaluated the impact of the pandemic on CPS caseworkers and administrators in the United States. Objectives We conducted interviews to explore CPS caseworkers' and administrators' experiences working and serving families during the pandemic. Methods Participants were U.S.-based CPS caseworkers and administrators. We conducted semi-structured virtual interviews with participants and used an inductive thematic analysis approach. Results We conducted 37 interviews. Participants discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way they conduct investigations and provide services to families in the CPS system. Several services were adapted to occur virtually, providing challenges and unique opportunities. Participants also described the personal barriers they faced during the pandemic, including working remotely, experiencing burnout, and challenges obtaining personal protective equipment. Finally, participants shared creative solutions they engaged in to support children and families during the COVID-19 pandemic, including expanding collaborations with other community-based organizations. Discussion This study suggests the important role that CPS has played during the pandemic and challenges individual CPS workers felt, in terms of both experiencing burnout and difficulty obtaining personalized protective equipment. Inclusion of the CPS system in emergency preparedness planning for future pandemics or natural disasters will ensure continuation of these vital services.
... Black women with mental health diagnoses may also be criminalized and deemed an unfit parent (Lash, 2017). For example, Black children are placed into Child Protective Services (CPS) due to maternal mental illness more frequently than families of other races (Roberts, 2002). Further, internalized racism may cause Black women to develop low self-esteem and hopelessness due to their acceptance and endorsement of anti-Black rhetoric and beliefs (Jones, 2000). ...
... Future research should include women with positive and negative screens for postpartum depression to examine maternal functioning more accurately within this population. Additionally, for decades Black women and families, especially low-income families receiving public assistance, have been at an increased risk of being reported to CPS by professionals (Lash, 2017;Roberts, 2002). Because most women in this study used Medicaid, they may view CPS as a threat and therefore provided answers which reflected a higher level of maternal functioning. ...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives Racial identity, which is the degree that individuals define themselves regarding their racial group membership, may influence the mental well-being of Black adults. To gain an understanding of the role Black racial identity may have on postpartum mental health, the researchers performed a secondary data analysis to examine the relationship between six Black racial identity clusters (Low Race Salience, Assimilated and Miseducated, Self-Hating, Anti-white, Multiculturalist, and Conflicted) and postpartum maternal functioning in Black women living in Georgia. Methods Black women completed Cross’s Racial Identity Scale, the Barkin Index of Maternal Functioning, and demographic questionnaires online via Qualtrics®. Participants A total sample of 116 self-identified Black postpartum women were included in the analysis. Women ranged in age from 18 to 41 years (M = 29.5 ± 5.3) and their infants were 1 to 12 months old (M = 5.6 ± 3.5). The majority of women were married/cohabitating with their partner (71%), had a college degree (53%), and employed (69%). Results It was determined through Kruskal Wallis test, χ²(5) = 20.108, p < 0.05, that the women belonging to the Assimilated and Miseducated cluster had higher levels of maternal functioning when compared to the women in the Self-Hating and Anti-white clusters. Conclusion This study is novel in its exploration of the relationship between Black racial identities and postpartum maternal functioning. Findings support the need for further research with larger sample and cluster sizes to determine the relationship between racial identity and maternal functioning.
... For example, the use of Child Protective Services as a child "welfare" intervention and the ways in which health care systems collude with Child Protective Services and other forms of policing have been rigorously documented as a structure that is punitively used to target and criminalize Black, Indigenous, and Asian/Pacific Islander mothers. [8][9][10] Acknowledging the recent harms of child separation experienced by immigrants 11 and Indigenous people 9 is one step in disrupting the cycles of harm and the generational trauma that is such a huge part of the history of health care in the US. ...
Article
Diagnoses of depression, anxiety, or other mental illness capture just one aspect of the psychosocial elements of the perinatal period. Perinatal loss; trauma; unstable, unsafe, or inhumane work environments; structural racism and gendered oppression in health care and society; and the lack of a social safety net threaten the overall well-being of birthing people, their families, and communities. Developing relevant policies for perinatal mental health thus requires attending to the intersecting effects of racism, poverty, lack of child care, inadequate postpartum support, and other structural violence on health. To fully understand and address this issue, we use a human rights framework to articulate how and why policy makers must take progressive action toward this goal. This commentary, written by an interdisciplinary and intergenerational team, employs personal and professional expertise to disrupt underlying assumptions about psychosocial aspects of the perinatal experience and reimagines a new way forward to facilitate well-being in the perinatal period.
... For example, in California, Black children comprised 11.9% of all children reported to and investigated by the child protection system (CPS) in 2019, but only 5.4% of children in the population overall (Webster et al., 2020). Given the persistent magnitude of observed differences in Black children's maltreatment reporting rates relative to children of other races and ethnicities, there has been significant attention, discussion, and debate (Bartholet, 2009;Drake, Lee, & Jonson-Reid, 2009;Roberts, 2001;. At its core, the question amounts to whether the disproportionate number of Black children reported to CPS reflects real differences in maltreatment; racial bias on the part of mandated and other reporters; or institutional structures that lead to the selective reporting of Black families who are more likely to be low-income. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background Children are reported for maltreatment during infancy at elevated rates; research has established persistent racial/ethnic differences in the likelihood of reporting to the child protection system (CPS). Objective To model the influence of race/ethnicity and community disadvantage in CPS reporting during infancy. Participants/setting A population-based dataset consisting of more than 1.2 million children born in California between 2012 and 2014. Vital birth records were probabilistically linked to administrative CPS records. American Community Survey data were used to measure community disadvantage. Methods For each child, we coded sociodemographic information from the birth record, assigned the child to a community using their residential address at birth, and captured maltreatment reports from child protection records. We employed a modified Poisson regression model to examine an infant's likelihood of being reported to CPS by race/ethnicity across levels of community disadvantage and after adjusting for individual-level covariates. Results Infants born in neighborhoods with the most concentrated disadvantage were reported to CPS at 7 times the rate of children born in the most advantaged neighborhoods (12.3% vs. 1.8%). After adjusting for individual-level covariates, we found that both Black and Hispanic infants born on public insurance were significantly less likely than White infants to be reported for maltreatment overall — and Black and Hispanic infants had a statistically equivalent or lower likelihood of reporting at the two extremes of neighborhood disadvantage. Among privately insured families, Hispanic infants continued to have a lower likelihood of reporting, but Black infants were reported at higher rates than White infants. This Black-White difference persisted in the most advantaged neighborhoods, but disappeared in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods. Conclusions Capturing individual-level differences in socioeconomic status and associated risk factors is critical to understanding sources of racial/ethnic differences in CPS reporting, including when there is unwarranted variation or disparate treatment. Our findings suggest an elevated likelihood of maltreatment reporting among privately insured Black infants not explained by differences in observed risk or neighborhood, but no such differences were documented for Black or Hispanic infants on public insurance.
... However, despite these findings, as well as the body of qualitative evidence identifying racism and bias in child welfare systems (e.g., Harris & Hackett, 2008;Miller, Cahn, & Orellana, 2012;Roberts, 2002), those who have promoted theories of "disproportionate need" have largely dismissed the possibility of bias and have called on child welfare agencies to discontinue efforts to address disproportionality that broadly focus on reducing bias or improving cultural RACIAL BIAS, POVERTY, EVIDENCE. This is an author's preprint of an article published by the Child Welfare League of America in Child Welfare in December 2021. ...
Article
Full-text available
The overrepresentation of Black children has been observed in the child welfare system for nearly 60 years yet persists as an unresolved problem. Efforts to address this overrepresentation have been hampered by a persistent debate in the child welfare field regarding the factors that contribute to this problem. This debate concerns the extent to which racial bias in child welfare systems contributes to the observed racial disparities, or whether poverty and "disproportionate need" are the stronger causal factors. Although research supports both of these views, the persistence of this debate points to a larger problem in the child welfare field regarding how evidence is constructed, the hierarchies placed on evidence, and the lens through which evidence is generated and interpreted. This paper reviews the history of this debate, the harmful consequences that result, and a call to reevaluate how we understand the problem of racism that exists in child welfare systems.
... Finally, governmental action in the realm of the family may be a particular touchstone for jurors in this type of political environment, and this may transcend even traditional categories. Critiques of the system and decisions to terminate parental rights, particularly the ways that those in poverty are systematically disadvantaged, have come from both critical race scholars (e.g., Roberts 2002) and libertarians (e.g., Brown 2019). Hence, although there are strong reasons, and some data, to expect low variability in these cases, there are also reasons why judge-jury differences remain an open empirical question. ...
Article
Research typically finds some variability in verdicts across judges versus juries, indicating juries’ added value in legal disputes; that is, juries can and do see cases differently than judges. In an exploratory study, we examine termination of parental rights (TPR) trials, a nontraditional context in which a few states permit juries as well as judges to make decisions. Prior unpublished reports suggest that both judges and juries overwhelmingly terminate rights, but we questioned whether the same pattern would emerge in an area (Texas) with a strong anti-government history. Examining 60 trials in one county, with verdicts on 110 parents, we find that parents used juries infrequently (15% of trials, 12% of parental verdicts) and that terminations dominated verdict outcomes for both judges and juries. An intensively coded subsample of cases revealed few substantive differences in case types, although jury trials last nearly four times as long as bench trials. We conclude that juries are unlikely to provide different outcomes to parents fighting TPR, but we discuss other potential value of jury trials in these cases. Nonetheless, states may need to balance such advantages against cost considerations stemming from longer, more intensive trials.
... Passavam assim a aceitar uma criança (não mais um recém--nascido) retirada de sua família inevitavelmente pobre e pertencendo a uma minoria étnica discriminada, com ou sem o consentimento dos pais. Contudo, em pouco tempo, surgiram reações organizadas pelos movimentos negro, indígena e outras minorias protestando contra essas adoções "transraciais" (Modell, 1998;Roberts, 2002). É diante desse impasse, deparando-se com uma escassez de crianças adotáveis no seu próprio país, que pessoas sofrendo da "ausência involuntária de prole" passaram a buscar a criança desejada (de preferência, bebê, de pele clara e em boa saúde), a grande custo financeiro, nas regiões mais pobres da América Latina, da Ásia e eventualmente da África (Ballard et al., 2015;Briggs, 2009). ...
... Central to the piece and what it seeks to resist is the US child welfare system, with its deeply entrenched racism and the power it claims to name, to make and to break "families." Through an incisive critique of her own path to becoming a pre-adoptive parent, Hall identifies some of the problematic frameworks and assumptions through which the child welfare system causes, in the words of Dorothy Roberts, "serious group-based harms by reinforcing disparaging stereotypes about Black family unfitness and need for white supervision, by destroying a sense of family autonomy and self-determination among many Black Americans, and by weakening Blacks' collective ability to overcome institutionalized discrimination" (Roberts 2002, ix, quoted in Hall 2021). Yet throughout the process, Hall asserts her resistance to the logics of the system, through her written application, her foster/adoption class, and, most strikingly, through her decision to continue to mother, from a relative distance, a black girl living as a "legal orphan" in foster care who decided she did not wish to move into Hall's home. ...
... One example of this is a child's placement into foster care. The elements of foster care placement that are important to note are the long-term episodes of familial separation and the lack of familial restoration that often occur when a child is placed in foster care (Roberts, 2002). Entry into the child welfare system is especially pronounced in cases of maternal incarceration (Mumola, 2000). ...
Article
Full-text available
Parental incarceration in the United States has drastically increased since the 1980s. As there is much stigma around incarceration and the majority of incarcerated individuals are parents, it is important to identify the effects of this form of parent-child separation. I argue that parental incarceration is in many cases a secretive form of separation, and this is mostly due to protective efforts of gatekeepers and the stigma associated with the incarceration. I also argue that children of incarcerated parents seek information and sometimes reconnect with their parent using online platforms such as Google. Utilizing qualitative in-depth interviews from children of incarcerated parents (N = 31), I identify the possible negative effects of secrecy on children of incarcerated parents, and discuss cases in which children grow up and use “Google” to reclaim truth.
... Black families were disproportionately targeted by the child welfare system based on characterizations of the underclass family as being dysfunctional and immoral. Black mothers were hyper-surveilled by the child welfare system and disproportionately reported for child neglect (Roberts 2002(Roberts , 2011. As such, Black youth were stripped from their families and placed into foster care at higher rates than any other racial-ethnic group. ...
Article
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Since first becoming a major social issue in the 1980s, homelessness has been a racialized problem in the United States. Its disproportionate impact on Black Americans is primarily driven by structural racism and the limited housing and employment opportunities for Black Americans. The first major federal legislation to address the needs of the United States’ homeless population—the Stewart B. McKinney–Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987 omitted the root causes of Black housing instability, thereby proving ineffective at mitigating Black homelessness. As a result, Black Americans remain disproportionately impacted today. In addition to being neglected by the McKinney–Vento Homeless Assistance Act, Black men and women experiencing homelessness are more likely to be discriminated against than any other racial group. For example, Black men are more likely to be arrested than anyone else, and Black women are the most likely to experience hyper-surveillance. This paper uses the Public Identity Framework to argue that in the 1980s, advocates and opponents of homeless legislation created two contradictory public personas to shape public discourse and policies for the homeless. A colorblind public persona was used to pass the McKinney–Vento Homeless Act; meanwhile, the public persona of the “underclass” was used to criminalize and shame the homeless. Both personas operated concurrently to create a dual public identity for the homeless that influenced policy and ultimately harmed Black people.
... A growing body of scholarship argues that we should eschew focusing on motivations or intentions but instead on the behaviors and artifacts themselves-policies, structures, and practices that, intentionally or not, reproduce inequalities by implicitly or explicitly centering on the best interests of those in power (Kendi, 2019). This disregard for intentions or the implicit vs. explicit nature of inequality replication is particularly useful in measuring the actual behaviors of neoliberals who claim a post-inequality frame and for espoused adherents to social justice, like social workers, who claim to have an anti-inequality agenda (Roberts, 2002). ...
Article
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A school of social work devised a process to assess the implicit curriculum by auditing the required readings to identify the race and gender of the authors. As a profession, we espouse a strong commitment to social justice and diversity. Yet we know that there are limitations to our objectivity and that auditing is a valuable tool that can reveal biases. The concrete data provided by an audit can help reveal and disrupt entrenched patterns. The audit was conducted by reviewing the syllabi for required BSW and MSW courses. For each text, we collected the names, gender, and race for each author. Across all programs, authors were disproportionately White as compared to the general U.S. population, professional authors, professional social workers, and students in the programs. Similarly, men were over-represented as compared to all of the benchmarks, except for the authors in the BSW program, which was more feminized as compared to the U.S. population. This assessment process adds to the existing toolset by measuring current levels of representation—including over and underrepresentation. It is hoped that auditing will prove an effective tool for doing antiracist and anti-oppressive assessment, however an audit can only reveal where work is needed.
... Racial and cultural concordance between clinicians and the populations they serve has been shown to improve pregnancy-related outcomes, such as improved experiences and satisfaction with care for pregnant people 33 and improved care for newborns and infants, 34 yet such clinicians remain limited in supply. 35,36 In addition, competency requirements for education and training regarding perinatal mental health are lacking. 37 Most perinatal health clinicians (for example, obstetricians, midwives, and family medicine physicians) receive minimal training in their educational programs and have few opportunities for continuing education regarding perinatal mental health. ...
Article
One in five pregnant or postpartum people has a diagnosed mood or anxiety disorder, which are the most common mental health illnesses that occur during the perinatal period. Untreated perinatal mental health conditions, encompassing pregnancy and the first five years of a child's life, carry a societal burden of $14 billion per year in the US. This overview article describes the prevalence of perinatal mental health conditions; the implications of those conditions; and associated barriers to screening, treatment, and bias associated with mental health conditions. We offer six policy opportunities designed to overcome the barriers and support overall sexual and reproductive health: extending Medicaid coverage through twelve months postpartum; redesigning care and reimbursement through co-location of services; establishing coverage for home visiting and peer support programs; enhancing telehealth policies that support access and coverage beyond the COVID-19 pandemic; enhancing data, research, and accountability; and enacting social and economic policies that support families.
... Nevertheless, California respondents may have been reflecting their understanding of typical child protection services. Critics of the US child protection system have long argued that the service system is thin, with few services other than foster care available to respond to children's needs (Roberts, 2009). ...
Article
Child protection is considered an appropriate government responsibility, but interventions into the family are also some of the most consequential for states. This study examines the normative basis for limiting parents’ freedom by exploring public attitudes about a child’s safety in the context of increasing risk. Using a randomized survey, we test the causal relationship between levels of risk and parental restrictions on representative samples in Norway and CA, US (n = 2148) – different welfare state and child protection models. Findings suggest that the public supports restricting parental freedom under conditions of risk and that severity of risk is taken into consideration. A majority favour restricting parental freedom under conditions of risk to the child; a minority resist restricting freedom, regardless of risk, and about one-third to one-half of respondents favour temporarily suspending parents’ rights by separating children to foster care. Residents of Norway are half as likely to support unrestricted parenting, regardless of risk, and are 1.5 as likely to endorse restricted parenting. Norwegians are also 20% less likely to support separating a child from his parent compared to US respondents. The study has implications for system design based on popular notions about parents’ freedom and family privacy.
... Feminist abolitionist scholars (Ritchie 2017) have articulated how the carceral state impacts the social position of Mothers of Color most closely tied to branches of the criminal legal system: foster care (Roberts 2002), formerly incarcerated (Gurusami 2019), immigrant (Abrego and Menjivar 2011;Escobar 2016), and gang-affiliated (Maldonado 2018). The Underground Scholars Initiative across UC campuses has argued that families who are system-impacted due to criminal legal involvement including incarceration "face the most significant disadvantages" (Cerda-Jara et al. 2019). ...
Article
Full-text available
Scholars have documented how violence, criminalization, and other forms of control impact the life trajectories of criminalized women. Less research exists on the ways that processes of criminalization affect the health of mothers across the life course. This study examines how the legal constructions of criminalized labels such as gang affiliation, are a process of long-term violence and threat of violence and second, how short and long-term criminalization affects family health–what I refer to as life course criminalization. This qualitative study is based on photo elicitation life history testimonios with 13 gang affiliated, system-impacted Chicana/Latina mothers from South Central Los Angeles, California and connects life course theory with feminist abolitionist decolonial perspectives. It documents how crises perpetuated by multi-institutional violence and other forms of violence influence relations between legal, social, and health related experiences for system-impacted mothers and their families. Through their testimonios they show the intergenerational mechanisms that connect the body’s health, family surveillance, and criminalization processes to survival, and spiritual resistance.
... It is not only concerned with 'saving children', but crucially 'controlling families' (Edwards 2016). For many years, it has been demonstrated that the US child protection system is racialised, where Black and Brown children are removed from home on a disproportionate rate compared to their percentage in the wider population (Roberts 2002;Greene et al. 2011;Barth et al. 2020). It is now being argued that the system is so broken it needs to be abolished for racism is seen to be so rooted in the systems history, policies, and practices that they are not easily reformed. ...
Article
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This article argues that two interrelated factors have played important roles in the emergence of academic analyses of child protection policies and practices: the evidence of growing strains and crises in child protection systems over the last forty years; and the development of comparative research on different systems. The latter has demonstrated that child protection policies and practices vary between different countries such that the differences could not be explained by differences in the nature of child maltreatment in the different societies—other political, social, and cultural factors were at play. This paper outlines the nature of these key developments and the conceptual frameworks which have emerged to explain the differences. A significant positive outcome is that such conceptual frameworks can be drawn upon for furthering our analyses of different policies, practices and systems and their possible reform and improvement.
... Surveillance bias refers to the oversurveillance of particular communities and neighborhoods, particularly by professional referrers. In the US context, this is widely reported, though also contested [28,[55][56][57]. While group or location-based surveillance may be one cause of surveillance bias, there are other mechanisms by which surveillance may function in more specific ways. ...
Article
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The structural risk perspective conceptualizes the causes of inequities in child protection system contact as unequal exposure to the structural causes of child abuse risk, combined with biases in the responses of child welfare workers and reporters. This conceptual article proposes a third mechanism of inequity: instrumental biases. It is proposed that instrumental biases operate as a third group of mechanisms that inequitably increase the involvement of some groups and not others. Instrumental biases operate through institutional structures, interpretive concepts and risk proxies that affect how risk is coded and becomes attached to particular people. Against the background of the notify-investigate model that creates poor conditions for decision making, and shapes institutional structures, instrumental biases include the miscalibration of the demand and supply of services (an institutional cause); family-specific surveillance bias and a reliance on prior case histories (a risk proxy cause); widening legal definitions of serious harm (an interpretive concept cause); and complex responses to intimate partner violence that minimize theories of IPV and the social context it occurs within (concept and risk proxy causes). It is argued that within the decision-making context of the child protection system, how services are structured and risk becomes codified has disproportionate impacts on some communities compared to others. Examples from Aotearoa New Zealand, with reference to Māori and people living in high-deprivation areas, are used to illustrate these concepts.
... These policies have remained in place, despite robust data that indicate child removal causes harm to children and communities. [27][28][29][30] Although foster care was conceived as a temporary placement for children, with the Adoption and Safe Families Act it became a program through which prospective parents could obtain children for adoption. This was enhanced by financial incentives to states for adoption from foster care. ...
... The "child welfare system" in its historical and modern form has played a variety of roles in the disruption of women's family formation. It has been criticized by black feminist scholars, such as Dorothy Roberts (1997Roberts ( , 2002 as being an institution responsible for the disruption and policing of black families, as well as one which violates the rights of women to parent their children, and an important target of the struggle for Reproductive ...
Thesis
The dominant frame in the literature regarding pregnancy and parenting among women with a history of child welfare contact is that of teen pregnancy as social crisis. This project reconsiders the issue of pregnancy and parenting among young women in the community and their contact with child welfare, relying instead on the concept of Reproductive Justice as an analytic frame. Rather than situating these young mothers as a cause of social inequality and of poor outcomes for their children, Reproductive Justice draws attention to social conditions and aligns our inquiries and solutions with the alleviation of stigma and identification and provision of needed supports. Using vital statistics matched administrative data from the Department of Child and Family Services in Cuyahoga County, I ask the following questions: Of young women in the community who give birth in their teen years, what is the extent of their contact with the child welfare system, throughout the mothers’ history, and then for their children after birth? Are there differences in allegations of maltreatment, results of investigations, and/or reasons for removal from home for young women who come into contact with child protective services around the time of their pregnancies and births versus those who have prior contact? Is pregnancy in the teen years a risk factor for coming into contact with the child welfare system? For these young women and children who have contact with the child welfare system, what are the points of contact? What is the “foster care birth rate” when accounting only for young women actually in care at the time of birth, and how does this compare to the rate of birth in the community? How does mothers’ contact with the child welfare system relate to contact for their children? Are there differences along any of these domains according to the assigned race of the mother? In addition to specific rates of contact and details of involvement for mothers and their children in the times before, during and after pregnancy, I find that: DCFS involvement among these young women and their children was a common occurrence. However, the majority of mothers in this sample (85.8%) had no substantiated record of childhood abuse, despite high levels of surveillance (reports of maltreatment and involvement with DCFS). Pregnancy and childbirth were times of heightened sensitivity for reports and previous contact with DCFS seemed to amplify this sensitivity, though it seems that DCFS is doing some work to filter out spurious claims. Of young mothers in the community, only a small fraction of mothers (14.3%) had a record of one or more out-of-home placements, and births to young women in foster care were an extremely small percentage (1%) of births to young women in the community. When accounting only for births to young women in foster care at the time of conception and birth, and accounting for minority overrepresentation, the rate of birth was less than (.78 times) the rate of birth to young women in the community. What contact children had was, to some extent, a function of mothers’ contact and there were observable differences for mothers by identified “race” in nearly every domain. The problem of framing “teen pregnancy” as social and personal crisis, and implications for social work scholarship and practice, are discussed.
... Given the significant inequities experienced by parents with intellectual or psychiatric disabilities, recognizing the role of particular impairments is important. The social model also does not address the intersection of disability with other identities, such as race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation (Artiles 2013;Liasidou 2013), which is crucial in child welfare system research (Roberts 2002). ...
Article
Parents with disabilities and their families experience pervasive inequities within the child welfare system. However, existing conceptual frameworks do not adequately explain or address the unique needs and experiences of parents with disabilities and their families involved with the child welfare system. Accordingly, we present a conceptual framework that incorporates empirical findings from existing literature while integrating and expanding extant frameworks and models. The conceptual framework, which is aimed at being a starting point from which to investigate child welfare system inequities experienced by disabled parents, includes interrelated factors measured at the contextual, institutional, and individual levels. The paper discusses areas for further research, challenges for researchers, and implications for reducing child welfare system inequities.
... Parallel to the pandemic, another sea change in our field is the elevated conversations about the presence and foundational precepts of systemic racism within the child welfare system (Dettlaff & Boyd, 2020;Roberts, 2001). It is not only important, but also essential to examine the complicity of the child welfare system and social work as a profession in professionalizing and codifying practices that perpetuate racial and ethnic inequities. ...
... The overrepresentation of children from Newcomer households may indicate discrimination, racism and systematic biases in child welfare services and policies (Antwi-Boasiako et al., 2020;Derezotes et al., 2005;Drake et al., 2011;Roberts, 2002). Nationally, Arab families are underrepresented in the child welfare population (Lavergne et al., 2008). ...
Article
Objectives: The study aims to further the understanding of child welfare involvement with Newcomer families in Ontario, Canada in 2018. This study examines a) the rate and characteristics of child maltreatment-related investigations involving Newcomer families and b) differences in child maltreatment-related investigations between Newcomer and non-Newcomer families. Methods: This study is a secondary data analysis of the Ontario Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect-2018 (OIS-2018). Using Statistics Canada Census Data, the Population-based Disparity Index (PDI) was calculated for Newcomer and non-Newcomer families. Descriptive and bivariate chi-square analyses were conducted to determine characteristics of investigations involving Newcomer and non-Newcomer households. Results: The PDI of the incidence of maltreatment-related investigations involving children under the age of 15 from Newcomer households versus non-Newcomer households in Ontario in 2018 is 2.48. Implications: The findings suggest that a child maltreatment-related investigation is more than twice as likely to occur if the investigation involves a child from a Newcomer household, when compared a non-Newcomer household in Ontario. This study demonstrates a need for further collaboration with Newcomer communities and their social service providers to better understand risk factors of child welfare involvement, and to increase protective factors for children from Newcomer families.
... They proceed to cite articles that purportedly demonstrate that there is raw disproportionality in child welfare (e.g., Crofoot & Harris, 2012)-an obvious fact that we do not contest in our article. They also cite literature reviews and legal reviews that are deeply flawed and frequently confuse correlation and causality (Dettlaff, 2020;Hill, 2004;Merritt, 2021;Raz, 2020;Roberts, 2002). Exemplifying their tendency toward catch phrases and away from precise scientific critique, the first article Tajima et al. cite (beyond ours) actually refers to music education (Hess, 2018), not child welfare. ...
Article
Barth et al. (2021) published an article in this journal identifying ten topics in the field of child welfare that are frequently discussed among professionals, advocates, and researchers in an effort to shape discussions of practice and policy reform. Concerned that these discussions are often poorly informed by the research evidence, Barth et al. intended to offer a corrective to these common, erroneous narratives. The Editor-in-Chief, Bruce Thyer, asked for suggestions for commentators and then invited some number of respondents to offer their perspectives on the original article. Here, we respond to each of the submitted papers, highlighting areas of agreement, and addressing other topics where we—sometimes sharply—disagree. We welcome an ongoing, fact-based, respectful dialogue to help shape child welfare reform. Efforts to improve the child welfare system are urgently needed; we stand by our view that large-scale practice and policy reform, in particular, must be guided by the best available research evidence.
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This article examines key sociological questions that are raised by the confinement of children and young people. Globally, there are approximately one million children held in confinement, and there is an emerging body of qualitative sociological research in this area. This article examines the role that social constructions of childhood innocence and evil play in shaping the processes of protection and removal, and how these constructions play a role in mediating state strategies of punishment and rehabilitation. The article also draws from an emerging body of qualitative sociological research to examine the role of youth confinement institutions in socializing vulnerable young people.
Article
US legal‐administrative interpretations of children's play offer critical insight into the production of racial difference and reproduction of economic disparities under the aegis of the postwelfare state. This article analyzes ethnographic observations in an administrative court in Los Angeles and transcripts of childcare license revocation hearings for an African American home‐based early education provider serving working‐class families via welfare‐to‐work systems. As courtroom ethnography reveals, US postwelfare institutions view play through an ideological prism that enshrines White middle‐class patterns of consumption as normative. Tasked with an ill‐defined postwelfare state mandate of early intervention, street‐level bureaucrats not only assess young Black and Latinx children as continual future threats but also as vulnerable in the present to their guardians’ poor choices. [childhood, race, care, administrative courts, play, postwelfare state]
Article
Most U.S. states have one or more pregnancy-specific alcohol or drug policies. However, research evidence indicates that some of these policies lead to increases in adverse birth outcomes, including low-birthweight and preterm birth. We offer explanations for why these ineffective policies related to pregnant people’s use of alcohol and drugs in the U.S. exist, including: abortion politics; racism and the ‘War on Drugs’; the design and application of scientific evidence; and lack of a pro-active vision. We propose alternative processes and concepts to guide strategies for developing new policy approaches that will support the health and well-being of pregnant people who use alcohol and drugs and their children. Processes include: involving people most affected by pregnancy-specific alcohol and drug policies in developing alternative policy and practice approaches as well as future research initiatives. Additionally, we propose that research funding support the development of policies and practices that bolster health and well-being rather than primarily documenting the harms of different substances. Concepts include accepting that policies adopted in response to pregnant people’s use of alcohol and drugs cause harms and working to do better, as well as connecting to efforts that re-envision the child welfare system in the U.S.
Article
This article examines the forms of intergenerational kinship and care work that Black men perform within and beyond US prisons. First, I offer a historical conceptualization of domestic warfare as a multilayered process that targets Black radical activism, social/familial life, and the interiority of Black subjectivity. I argue that the rupturing of intimacy and familial relationships precipitated by the prison should be understood not as an incidental byproduct of a poorly designed carceral regime but as a tactic of war and a condition of genocide. Next, I theorize letter writing as an ethnographic and political modality that is part of a broader repertoire of strategies that Black men deploy to survive within and rebel against domestic war. I then draw on correspondence between myself and Absolute, an imprisoned Black man, as well as oral histories I collected with elders of New York's radical prison movement, to show how Black men care for each other, forge kinship networks, and transmit knowledge. I close by showing how Absolute carries on traditions of knowledge production and care to younger generations of captive Black men and by connecting this intergenerational practice to forms of collective rebellion. [prisons, kinship, Black masculinity, letters, warfare] Este artículo examina las formas de parentesco intergeneracional y el trabajo de cuidar que hombres negros desempeñan dentro y más allá de las prisiones de Estados Unidos. Primero, ofrezco una conceptualización histórica de la guerra doméstica como un proceso de múltiples niveles que va dirigido al activismo radical negro, vida familiar/social y la interioridad de la subjetividad negra. Argumento que la ruptura de la intimidad y de las relaciones familiares precipitadas por la prisión debe ser entendida no como un subproducto incidental de un régimen carcelario mal diseñado sino como una táctica de guerra y una condición de genocidio. Seguidamente, teorizo el escribir cartas como una modalidad etnográfica y política que es parte de un repertorio más amplio de estrategias que los hombres negros utilizan para sobrevivir dentro, y rebelarse en contra de la guerra doméstica. Luego, me baso en la correspondencia entre Absoluto, un hombre negro encarcelado y el autor, así como historias orales recolectadas de los de más edad del movimiento radical de prisiones de Nueva York, para mostrar cómo los hombres negros cuidan el uno del otro, forjan redes de parentesco y transmiten conocimiento. Cierro mostrando cómo Absoluto continúa tradiciones de producción de conocimiento y cuidado por generaciones más jóvenes de hombres negros cautivos, y conectando esta práctica intergeneracional a formas de rebelión colectiva. [prisiones, parentesco, masculinidad negra, cartas, guerra]
Article
The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 has now been actively implemented in the United States for 24 years and remains largely unchanged from its initial conception. Initial critiques of ASFA included questions around the ethics of its requirements and the efficiency of its proposed goals. Subsequent to the original adoption of ASFA into legislation, the National Association of Black Social Workers published a statement calling for its repeal due to the dire consequences experienced by Black communities. Although Black scholars and organizers continue to fight for the end of family separation, the call to repeal ASFA has garnered little attention from policymakers and child welfare researchers. This brief commentary reacquaints scholars with discussions around ASFA, highlighting the implications for Black communities and reiterating the importance of centering Black voices given recent calls for anti-racist practice, pedagogy, and research.
Article
It is perhaps surprising that we lack complete national information about why children enter foster care. While the annual Adoption and Foster Care Analysis Reporting System (AFCARS) report is informative, it leaves many questions unanswered, particularly “how many children enter foster care by means other than Child Protective Services (CPS) reports?” Drawing from a unique new integrated dataset, we examined foster care data (AFCARS) and CPS report data (National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System Child File). The linked dataset included 210,062 children with foster care placements in 2017 and no placements in the prior 5 years. We categorized each placed child along two dimensions of four levels each: Time since prior CPS report (if any) and stated AFCARS placement reason, ranging from clearly maltreated to clearly not maltreated. We also tracked the siblings of placed children, to see if non-maltreated children entered care because of maltreated siblings. We find that between 8–35% of children enter foster care for reasons other than maltreatment, depending how thresholds are set. These numbers decline somewhat when siblings are considered. A meaningfully large number of children are placed in foster care for reasons other than maltreatment investigated by CPS. Further research into these children is warranted to better inform foster care policy.
Article
*Purpose The purpose of this study was to measure the bias on a binary option's effect estimate that appeared in the types of questions asked and in the placement changes of public service users. *Design/methodology/approach The author designed Monte Carlo simulations with the analytical strategy of latent trait theory leveraging a probability of care-placement change. The author used difference-in-difference (DID) method to estimate the effects of care settings. *Findings The author explained the extent of discrepancy between the estimates and the true values of care service effects in changes across time. The time trend of in-home care for the combined effect of in-home care, general maturity, and other environmental factors was estimated in a biased manner, while the bias for the estimate of the incremental effect for foster care could be negligible. *Research limitations/implications This study was designed based on individual child-unit only. Therefore, higher-level units, such as care setting or cluster, county, and state, should be considered for the simulation model. *Social implications This study contributed to illuminating an overlooked facet in causal inferences that embrace disproportionate selection biases that appear in categorical data scales in public management research. *Originality/value To model the nuance of a disproportionate self-selection problem, the author constructed a scenario surrounding a caseworker's judgment of care placement in the child welfare system and investigated potential bias of the caseworker's discretion. The unfolding model has not been widely used in public management research, but it can be usefully leveraged for the estimation of a decision probability.
Article
My mother is losing her mother to Alzheimer's disease. Although my mother feels loss, I am connecting through my (maternal) grandmother to our ancestors, including a deceased father and paternal grandmother. I am also connecting to a daughter who has lost her mother, through a (maternal) grandmother who, through her loss of memory, is more open to kin networks than my mother. Through deepening connections to my maternal grandmother and to my daughter, I feel I am losing my mother. I look to revolutionary mothering as a way to reconnect shattered bonds and find lost mothers. This article honors the important work of Saidiya Hartman, Dorothy Roberts, and countless revolutionary mothers.
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This article investigates parent advocacy in the child welfare system amongst families living in low‐income and racialized urban areas, those most impacted by this system. Drawing from my fieldwork experience at the community‐based organization Child Welfare Organizing Project (CWOP) in East Harlem, New York, I interrogate the political trajectory of the organization, its practices, and its purpose. I analyze how the decision parents make to advocate is tied to the injustice, stigma, and surveillance they—and especially mothers—experience in the child welfare system. While exploring how parenting and its political dimension are reshaped for disfranchised mothers through advocacy, I describe the “fine line” between compliance and resistance that CWOP has walked throughout its history to preserve its existence. This article illustrates how this form of activism takes place within a fragmented and increasingly privatized welfare regime, in which community‐based organizations struggle for their right to remain political actors and not be overtaken by the logic of service provision. Through my analysis, I aim to contribute to anthropological understandings of the forms of political agency taken up by stigmatized subjects in their interactions with the state, and the limits the state demonstrates in “hearing” their claims and requests for change.
Article
This article reveals how law and legal interests transform medicine. Drawing on qualitative interviews with medical professionals, this study shows how providers mobilize law and engage in investigatory work as they deliver care. Using the case of drug testing pregnant patients, I examine three mechanisms by which medico-legal hybridity occurs in clinical settings. The first mechanism, clinicalization, describes how forensic tools and methods are cast in clinical terminology, effectively cloaking their forensic intent. In the second, medical professionals informally rank the riskiness of illicit substances using both medical and criminal-legal assessments. The third mechanism describes how gender, race, and class inform forensic decision-making and criminal suspicion in maternal health. The findings show that by straddling both medical and legal domains, medicine conforms to the standards and norms of neither institution while also suspending meaningful rights for patients seeking care.
Article
Drawing on feminist theories of parenting and the welfare state, I analyze experiences of diaper need as a case of how gender, class, and race inequalities shape the social organization of caregiving and limited policy responses. Data from in-depth interviews with 70 mothers who experienced diaper need and 40 diaper bank staff revealed obstacles low-income mothers face in managing lack of access to children’s basic needs and how gendered assumptions of parental responsibility thwart public diaper support efforts. I use this case to theorize gender policy vacuums: These occur when gender disparities and ideologies prevent systematic responses to structural problems. Empirically this study contributes to understandings of diaper need as a problem of the gender structure that cannot be solved with alternative diapering methods that assume middle-class, white, androcentric privileges. Theoretically it illuminates key mechanisms by which feminized care labor is devalued and rendered invisible and how this erasure rationalizes lack of redress for gendered inequalities and creates policy gaps around caregiving.
Article
This article examines a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Chicago's Mexican Consulate and the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS), which obliges DCFS to provide prompt consular notification after assuming protective custody of a Mexican or Mexican American minor. Developed in 2001, this bilateral agreement also enables consular officials to gain access to child welfare cases involving their minor nationals and requires DCFS to consider placing such minors with their deported or noncustodial parents in Mexico, whenever possible. Drawing on ethnographic research collected in Chicago and Mexico from 2016 to 2019, I explore the possibilities created through the MOU, which not only opens up new opportunities for transnational family reunification in Mexico but also enables Mexican institutions to challenge DCFS's expertise. And yet, the MOU also produces what I call “interstitial precarity” for the minors it tries to help. This is a lack of belonging, stability, and recognition that results not from the denial of one's citizenship but from falling between the cracks of multiple, discordant bureaucratic systems. Accordingly, this article evaluates the MOU's potential to expand the family‐making options available to mixed‐status families through a dialectical reading of its romantic and tragic effects. [child welfare, reunification, transnational, immigration, precarity]
Article
This exploratory study examined the characteristics of children who had relatively brief experiences in out-of-home (OOH) child welfare placements (i.e., involved in OOH placements for 30 days or less) to better understand the demographic composition of this group as well as their child welfare system experiences leading up to and following these brief placements. This study provides a broad picture of this “short-stayer” population, using national child welfare administrative data (Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System {AFCARS}) from Fiscal Year 2018. In comparing short-stayers with those who had longer spells in child welfare (from 30 days up to five years or more), the final sample for the analyses was 251,112 children. The percentage of children nationwide who fell into the short or very short-stayer category, was close to 10%. Several key findings emerged, differentiating short-stayers from children with longer stays in OOH care, based on several demographic and risk characteristics, as well as on their prior recent history of involvement with child welfare. Moreover, the short-stayer population was more likely to reside in more restrictive settings while in these brief placements. The implications for placing children into OOH care for such brief periods of time are discussed.
Article
To use racial stratification and intersectional family justice frameworks to analyze experiences of and efforts to address diaper need. One in three American families with infants and toddlers struggles with insufficient access to diapers, which can have negative social, physical, and economic implications for family well‐being. Prior research has yet to examine diaper need as a form of racial stratification, despite existing evidence of racialized prevalence. In‐depth interviews were conducted with nonrandom samples of 70 mothers who experienced diaper need, including 61 mothers of color, and 40 diaper bank advocates. Qualitative abductive coding techniques were employed to identify how diaper need is experienced and framed as a form of racial stratification. Mothers of color were more likely to report racialized stigma, stress, surveillance, and social exclusion associated with diaper need. Diaper bank advocates framed diaper assistance as necessary to address intersecting race, class, and gender inequalities of diaper distress. Conceptualizing diaper need and public responses as issues of racial stratification and intersectional family justice points to how family scholarship can center analyses of systemic oppression and privilege to optimize family and caregiving relationships and promote equitable pathways to well‐being for all families. These findings reinforce the importance of racially just strategies for equalizing access to basic needs and caregiving resources in ways that account for the racist underpinnings of social problems like diaper need and related influences on parenting experiences.
Article
This intervention argues for a German carceral geography that takes the framework of abolition seriously to develop a deeper understanding and critique of the exercise of power in institutional space. My claim is that we need to adapt abolition as a theoretical perspective and form of knowledge that allows us to expand the analysis of carceral practices and rationalities beyond imprisonment to include other institutional spaces of racializing, classing and disabling marginalisation.
Article
The experiences of and care for pregnant, incarcerated people with substance use disorders represent a convergence of numerous clinical, historical, racialized, legal, and gendered factors. Understanding how these forces shape how they became enmeshed in the criminal legal system as well as the context of the care they do or do not receive while in custody is essential for promoting equitable maternal health care. In this review, we describe the prevalence of SUD among pregnant people behind bars, the health care landscape of incarceration, access to treatment for opioid use disorder for incarcerated pregnant and postpartum people, and nuances of providing such treatment in an inherently coercive setting. Throughout, we highlight the ways that the child welfare system and mass incarceration in the U.S. have had a unique and discriminatory impact on pregnant and parenting people, and have done so in distinctly racialized ways. Situating the clinical care of incarcerated pregnant people who use drugs in this context sheds light on fundamental social justice and health care intersections.
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