More threads by Daniel E.

Daniel E.

"It is time to reimagine the child welfare system."

Key Recommendations​

Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union call on federal, state, and local governments to take the following steps to reduce the harmful impact of child welfare interventions and strengthen and support families and communities to prevent child maltreatment:
  • Hold public hearings, including congressional hearings, to hear from families who are affected by the child welfare system.

  • Narrow the definition of child abuse and neglect. Prohibit the treatment of poverty-related circumstances, lack of financial resources, or substance use by parents or during pregnancy, without actual or imminent risk of harm, as factors that can trigger child welfare interventions.

  • Eliminate mandatory reporting requirements. Replace universal, centralized, and anonymous mandatory reporting with permissive, confidential, and decentralized reporting; give reporters and responding agencies the option to refer families directly to services in lieu of the government child welfare agency; and maintain records about the administration of this direct referral process separate from agencies responsible for investigating and evaluating allegations of child abuse or neglect.

  • Adopt a universal right for parents to quality pre- and post-petition counsel. Ensure the right attaches upon first contact with child welfare authorities and support contemporaneous provision of social work and support services to address immediate and collateral issues prompting child welfare concerns.

  • Require agencies to inform parents and children of their rights upon first contact to remain silent, to speak to a lawyer, and to refuse entry into the home absent an emergency or court order.

  • Prohibit drug testing of parents and pregnant people without prior written, voluntary, and informed consent or pursuant to court order.Legislatively create a right to decline a drug test unless ordered by a court. Prohibit caseworkers or courts from drawing any adverse inferences from the exercise of the right. Prohibit a parent’s drug treatment plans from being used against them in child welfare proceedings.

  • Require states to engage in “active efforts” to maintain family unity. In particular, require that child welfare agencies meaningfully assess and address:
    • Poverty-related barriers to reunification for child-welfare-involved parents, including the provision of financial support for transportation and costs associated with visitation, court hearings, mandated services, and other meetings.

    • Barriers to reunification for child-welfare-involved parents with problematic substance use. Refer parents to supportive, non-coercive, evidence-based services focused on harm reduction for substance use disorders, ensure parents have unimpeded access to quality substance use disorder treatment, and allow adequate time for relapse.
  • Improve data collection at federal, state, and local levels. Regularly publish data that can be disaggregated and commission expert studies on intersectional, persistent racial disparities in the child welfare system.

  • Acknowledge and meaningfully redress institutionalized racism and settler colonialism in child welfare policies and practices.

Daniel E.

A number of rights and community groups are calling on British Columbia to reform a child welfare system they say is “policing and surveilling” families — at a time when the province has unveiled legislation aimed at removing barriers to Indigenous peoples exercising jurisdiction over child and family services.

Organizations including West Coast LEAF (Legal Education & Action Fund), YWCA Metro Vancouver and B.C. Association of Social Workers have written an open letter to provincial representatives asking the Ministry of Child and Family Development (MCFD) to “dismantle” its current framework for investigation, intervention and child removal.

Currently child protection workers assess families for “risk” using their clinical judgment, and tools like checklists and questionnaires. But the groups say this system causes lasting harm to families and is rooted in “colonial, ableist, misogynist, and classist biases.”

...The groups decided to use the language of policing and surveillance because in their view what the system is really doing is bringing too critical a gaze to how people are parenting, rather than looking at what is in the best interests of the child.

Daniel E.

“This is what we actually had to live through. This is what our son had to live through. There should be due diligence before someone’s child is removed from their care. That is like, absurd, that you can take someone’s child and get a judge to sign off on it and you didn’t even do your due diligence.”
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