A Call to Action: Fighting Institutional Racism at the Front End of Child Welfare

The government is perpetuating the oppression of Black children and families through traumatic surveillance, investigation, and family separation practices carried out under the auspices of the child welfare system. Institutional racism is a force at work in the American child welfare system and contributes to the disproportionate involvement of Black children and families with the system. This must change.

Children’s Rights has put forth a comprehensive set of actions with the potential to stop unnecessary state involvement in the lives of Black families, dramatically reduce the number of children entering state foster care and prevent the numerous harms that systems impose on Black youth.

We look forward to partnering with other advocates and utilizing our expertise in child-focused strategic civil rights litigation and advocacy as we continue to fight institutional racism at the front end of child welfare systems.

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Lasting Harm

The profound trauma of family separation is proven to result in significant harm that can last a lifetime.

Children who are forcibly separated from their families experience emotional and psychological harm stemming from the disruption of attachments, trauma from the very act of removal, and grief and loss. In the short term, children can experience intense anxiety, depression, and disruptive behaviors. Long-term consequences of involuntary family separation can include poor developmental health and adult involvement with the criminal legal system.

Black parents experience an additional layer of trauma from the policing they are subjected to by an inherently racist system. The racism that Black families and children experience inflicts deep trauma and can impact long-term psychological and physical health.

Change that is Possible

Black children matter. Black parents matter. Black families matter. As such, fighting the disproportionate surveillance, investigation, and separation of Black families at the front end of child welfare systems is among the most urgent civil rights battles of our time.

Whether we prevail is determined not by all the challenges that are present, but by all the change that is possible.

Amanda Gorman, Fury and Faith