A Journal for Family Well-Being | Summer 2022
Investing in Communities and Families
Family Integrity & Justice W RKS
Summer 2022 | Vol. 1 | Issue 3
A Journal for Family Well-Being
Editor-in-Chief Jerry Milner Director of Family Integrity & Justice Works Public Knowledge ® _____________________ Editor-in-Chief David Kelly Director of Family Integrity & Justice Works Public Knowledge ® _____________________ Publisher Stacey Moss President Public Knowledge ® _____________________ Managing Editor Christie Matlock Management Consultant Public Knowledge ® _____________________ Copy Editors Kristin Baughman Copywriter Public Knowledge ® Stephanie Meisner-Maggard Senior Marketing Specialist Public Knowledge ® _____________________ Design
Editorial Board Members Justin Abbasi Co-Founder, Harbor Scholars: A Dwight Hall Program at Yale Zabrina Aleguire, JD Family Defense Practitioner Laura W. Boyd, Ph.D. Owner and CEO, Policy & Performance Consultants, Inc. Melissa D. Carter, J.D. Clinical Professor of Law, Emory Law Kimberly A. Cluff, JD MPA Candidate 2022, Goldman School of Public Policy, Legal Director, California Tribal Families Coalition Kathleen Creamer Managing Attorney, Family Advocacy Unit Community Legal Services of Philadelphia Angelique Day, Ph.D., MSW Associate Professor Faculty Affiliate of the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute Director of Federal Policy for Partners for Our Children School of Social Work, University of Washington Seattle Adjunct Faculty, Evans School of Public Policy and Governance Yven Destin, Ph.D. Educator and Independent Researcher of Race and Ethnic Relations Paul DiLorenzo, ACSW, MLSP National Child Welfare Consultant Carmen Hidalgo Parent Advocate, Family Defense Practitioner J. Bart Klika, MSW, Ph.D. Chief Research Officer, Prevent Child Abuse America Heidi McIntosh Principal, LGC CORE Consulting, LLC Jessica Pryce, Ph.D. Director, Florida Institute for Child Welfare Florida State University Delia Sharpe, Esq. Executive Director, California Tribal Families Coalition Mark Testa Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Elizabeth Wendel, MSW, LSW International Consultant, Family Well-Being and Mental Health Systems _______________________________________________ Advisory Board Members Jamole Callahan Director of Training and Development National Center for Housing and Child Welfare Angelique Day, PhD, MSW Associate Professor Faculty Affiliate of the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute Director of Federal Policy for Partners for Our Children University of Washington Seattle Glenda McMillan, MSW, LMSW Regional Vice President, Public Knowledge® Dr. Melissa T. Merrick President and CEO, Prevent Child Abuse America Stacey Moss, JD, CWLS, PMP President, Public Knowledge® Vivek S. Sankaran Clinical Professor of Law, University of Michigan, Michigan Law Shrounda Selivanoff, BAS Director of Public Policy, Children’s Home Society of Washington Victor E. Sims, MBA BA Management Consultant, Public Knowledge®
Janelle Shields Graphic Designer Public Knowledge ®
© 2022 by Family Integrity & Justice Works. All rights reserved. Family Integrity & Justice Quarterly is published quarterly by the Family Integrity & Justice Works (ISSN 2770-6982). For information visit fijworks.com
Paul Vincent, MSW Independent Consultant
FIJ Quarterly | Summer 2022 | 3
Summer 2022 Issue | Vol. 1 | Issue 3
A Journal for Family Well-Being
FEATURES 26 | From a Child to a File: Why Parents, Families, and Communities are the Agents of Change in Children's Lives, not Governments and Services Kevin Campbell Raif O'Neal Elizabeth Wendel 36 | Liberate the Black Family from the Family Policing System: A Reparations Perspective on Ending Anti-Black Racism in “Child Welfare” Parent-Led Approaches to Safe, Thriving Families Angela Olivia Burton Joyce McMillan 46 | Reflections on our Work in Community — Troubling the Frame Julia Jean-Francois Zenayda Bonilla ▶ 54 Just Because An Original Poem Zoraida Ramirez ▶ 55 Where I Come From An Original Poem C.H.
6 | Investing in Communities is an Act of Justice Jerry Milner and David Kelly
FOREWORD 10 | Lexie Grüber-Pérez 16 | On The Cover MY PERSPECTIVE 18 | Aprille Smith ▶ 24 Butterfly An Original Poem Quincy Smith
4 | FIJ Quarterly | Summer 2022
A BETTER WAY 102 | Re-Imagining a
56 | You Get What You Pay For:
The Federal Government Should Stop Paying for Foster Care Richard Wexler
Community-Based Child and Family Well-Being System in Nebraska Jennifer Skala Jennifer Wallage Dr. Alger M. Studstill, Jr.,
Emily Kluver Sarah Helvey Schalisha Walker
70 | Keeping Families Together: Studying the Past to Inform the Future Reimagining, How to Assist Families Dave Newell Shrounda Selivanoff 80 | The Power of Community-Based Services: Using the Strengths of Community and Parents to Improve Child Welfare Outcomes
Cheryl Miller Sheyala Jones Andrea Smith
▶ 88 Rise
REFLECTIONS 118 | Expanded Conception of
An Original Poem Lindsey W. 90 | The System is Cold and What We Need is Warmth Keith Fanjoy
"Community" Needed for Families Involved with the Child Welfare System Jey Rajaraman
FIJ Quarterly | Summer 2022 | 5
Investing in Communities is an Act of Justice Jerry Milner and David Kelly
A family’s ability to remain together should never hinge on their zip code, race, or economic status. Yet when we look across the country, state-by-state and county-by-county, there are clear patterns—clusters on maps where most children that enter foster care are from. We’ve seen these maps compared to historic maps of redlining in specific communities and the shapes and borders are a near match. Geography also affects which children are removed from their families when looking at locations of American Indian populations. These places hold in common a history of government-planned isolation, planned disenfranchisement, and lasting disadvantage. There are other places that may have once thrived and are now forgotten or places that have never truly prospered. As diverse as these places and their families and communities are, they have something deeply important that unites them; they are the homes of parents that love their children. In urban centers in the northeast, midwest, and deep south, on the west coast, in Appalachia, throughout Indian Country, on the borders, and everywhere in between, families living on the margins economically are most likely to come into contact with the child welfare system. And it is their children who populate the child welfare system in the United States disproportionately. The simple fact is certain communities are affected more by the way we operate child welfare in the United States than others— poor communities and particularly poor communities of color. For as long as we’ve been in the field of child welfare, we’ve heard the common refrain that communities must step up, that the child
protection agency can’t do it alone. Likewise, there is growing recognition that communities know what their families need most, and it is becoming increasingly popular to hear the importance of sharing or shifting power to communities and community-led design. So far, these remain largely words—void of meaningful action or investment. When it comes to investing in communities and shifting power to communities, tokenism and superficiality continue to rule the day, no matter the sector. Rather, it’s been treated as a nice idea, deemed less important than testing treatment approaches and evidence-based services that are remedial rather than preventative. Something folks may nod their head to in a public setting or even verbalize a commitment to but have not mobilized around. Efforts have been piecemeal, tentative, or temporary—the equivalent of dipping toes in the water. In child welfare, we’ve often tried to squeeze the concept of community-based support and services into the mold of what current child welfare consists of—responding to reports of abuse and neglect, separating children, and providing convenient, standardized, and predictable services. As a field, we have yet to explore the concepts behind community-based supports and services and their relationship to child and family well-being and involvement in the child welfare system. Very few federal child welfare dollars go to true community-based supports or services. For example, the amount of federal dollars appropriated for the Community Based Child Abuse Prevention Program (CBCAP), specifically devoted to primary prevention, is minuscule compared to the multi-billion dollar foster
6 | FIJ Quarterly | Summer 2022
Greeting (Mother Theresa and Gandhi), NYC
© Anisa Rahim
care program under Title IV-E, specifically devoted to paying to separate children from their families. Recent attempts to increase the availability of “prevention” services to keep families safely together, as in the Family First Prevention and Services Act (FFPSA), limit the funding to circumstances in which a family is already in trouble and children are on the verge of entering foster care. Even then, they are only eligible for a pre-determined menu of clinical treatments that have met increasingly high standards of evidence of effectiveness. Hardly any of these eligible services have been tested on the families most over-represented in foster care, Black and Indigenous families, yet we offer them anyway. And, in placing our focus on clinical interventions alone, we ignore the social conditions, historical trauma, and debilitating demands on poor families to hold
it all together. In essence, it is the opposite of a community-based approach to supporting children and families before child welfare is needed. It is another example of writing prescriptions for symptoms and failing to examine the causes of pre-existing conditions. In this case, those conditions are societal, but their threat to physical health and emotional well-being is just as strong as any disease. When three-quarters of the substantiated child maltreatment reports each year are for various forms and widely divergent definitions of neglect, when most of those reports are tied somehow to poverty, when one quarter of children entering foster care do so solely due to overly broad definitions of neglect—funding a system continuing to treat only the symptoms of conditions we have failed to address makes little sense. It yields the precise results we now see in child welfare: long separations from
FIJ Quarterly | Summer 2022 | 7
family, siblings separated, and exceedingly poor outcomes for those approximately 20,000 youth who leave foster care due to age each year after spending most of their growing up years in a series of foster care placements. These results speak for themselves. It’s time for all of us to step up to make sure communities have what they need to play their vital roles. That means more flexibility in funding, directing funding elsewhere, and trusting that communities can be there for families. It begins by addressing our own hubris as decision-makers and believing that communities and families are able to identify what would be helpful and how it should be available. During our years in the Children’s Bureau, we visited and observed enough programs around the country to know that there is a better route to helping families stay together, strong, and safe. There are better ways to build upon the strengths of communities to support families that are hopeful and healing because they are grounded in culture, healing, and wellness, not family separation. We saw first-hand the approaches used by the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe in Washington State, the San Mar Bester Community of Hope in Maryland, the Bring Up Nebraska initiative, the Center for Family Life in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, NY, and others. Each of the efforts is an example of networks of supports, in different communities, that are bravely taking on the core conditions that bring families to the attention of the child protection system so that children can remain safely with their families right in their own communities. They are places that proactively provide a
wide range of familial supports, including legal assistance, childcare, tutoring, after- school care, peer support, aid with concrete needs including housing, and numerous other community supports. These places convinced us that it indeed still existed and even more strongly. They are places that build upon strengths and help fill gaps that families trust. This is the power of community! This issue of the Family Integrity & Justice Quarterly is intended to take us beyond the notion of the community “stepping up” and taking responsibility for families’ well-being. It is intended to highlight the need to invest in communities to support families and begin making up for the harm approaches to date have done to families and their communities. This issue also provides much-needed insight into how and why we should engage with communities and pursue true co-design to help create conditions that strengthen families. Additionally, it is a clarion call to consider the damages to families inflicted by a system that is funded open-endedly to separate children from parents and minisculely to support them in staying happily together. We can, in fact, do better for our children and families when we invest in the power of their voices, self-determination, and communities. So long as we allow status quo funding approaches and policies to limit our imaginations and commitment to replacing outdated ways of work, we will be stymied. But, as we press forward to demonstrate that there is indeed a better way, we may just realize the consequence of policy and funding that follows the practice and outcomes.
8 | FIJ Quarterly | Summer 2022
Mother and Child, Philadelphia
© Anisa Rahim
FIJ Quarterly | Summer 2022 | 9
For decades, people impacted by the child welfare system have demanded to be included in the redesign of these institutions. It seems their calls are finally being heard. Terms like ‘user-centered design,’ ‘lived experience engagement,’ and other euphemisms for citizen participation have entered the favored lexicon of child welfare leaders. Even major child welfare funders, whose proclamations drive the direction of public policy, have urged these leaders to co-design with communities. 1 In this journal, you will hear from leading organizers and advocates about the need to shift decision- making power to the communities most acutely impacted by the child welfare system. Calls for redistribution of power to people with lived experience are borne out of the revered American values of democratic participation and self-representation. Few would object to such fundamental ideals. But enthusiasm for inclusion wanes when newly included voices speak truth to power. Beyond calls for inclusion, our authors make clear that countless families have been destroyed in the name of ‘child safety.’ They argue child protection systems often function as family policing agencies that do little to protect children from ongoing abuse and nothing to prevent maltreatment. These writers call for bold, transformative changes to law, for new federal financing investing in communities, and for reparations for destroyed families. How can we make sure these calls are answered, and this movement is successful? By ensuring they resist the timeless challenge facing movements: co-optation. Co-optation is a term used to describe the process by which powerholders neutralize threats to the status quo. By adopting a movement's language and hiring its leaders, powerful institutions are able to rebrand themselves and insulate themselves from criticism and accountability without delivering any material reform. The power dynamics between challengers to the status quo and powerholders—those with the power to enact the change that challengers seek—are complex. Sometimes co-optation is intentional. Yet casting co-optation as a malicious strategy deliberately wielded by powerful individuals to marginalize dissent is overly simplistic. It is more often the case that well-intentioned individuals within powerful institutions genuinely embrace change, but, despite the best intentions, their efforts still result in co-optation. Co-optation tendency to masquerade as, or insidiously grow from, earnest efforts at collaboration is what makes it such a persistent threat to progress. So, what can we learn from those who came before us, saw similar challenges, fought similar fights, sometimes won and sometimes lost? In this foreword, we will examine scholarship that analyzes the work of advocates and organizers from past generations to help us understand how movements are demobilized and co-opted. By better understanding this power interaction, we can equip ourselves to see the warning signs of co-optation and ensure that it is the status quo— not the movement— that is abolished. Investing in Community Power: A Tried-and-Tested Idea The idea of federally funded community empowerment may sound new and radical, but it has already been enacted into law over half a century ago. The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, the centerpiece legislation of the ‘War on Poverty,” required that new anti-poverty programs be "developed, conducted, ______________ 1 “Child Welfare Co-Design.” Casey Family Programs, 18 Apr. 2022, https://www.casey.org/codesign-lived-experience/. 2 Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, Pub L. No. 88-452, § 202(1)(3), 78 Stat. 505, 516 (1964).
10 | FIJ Quarterly | Summer 2022
FIJ Quarterly | Summer 2022 | 11
Maximum Feasible Participation … or Manipulation?
and administered with the maximum feasible participation of residents of the areas and members of the groups served.” 2 The essence of maximum feasible participation can best be summed up by Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s testimony before Congress urging the passage of this bill: “The institutions which affect the poor [operate] far outside their control. They plan programs for the poor, not with them. Part of the sense of helplessness and futility comes from the feeling of powerlessness to affect the operation of these organizations. The community action programs must basically change these organizations by building into the program real representation for the poor. This bill calls for, "maximum feasible participation of residents." This means the involvement of the poor in planning and implementing programs: giving them a real voice in their institutions.” 3 The law established over a thousand federally funded Community Action Agencies that administered local community action programs. 4 Federal dollars flowed directly to these grassroots organizations, bypassing state and local governments. 5 Communities used federal dollars to fund direct action, including rent strikes and sit-ins, and developed new programs, like Head Start. Low-income community members served on the Community Action Agencies’ boards and were employed to administer programs. 6 It was a first of its kind of federal experiment in allowing those served by the welfare bureaucracy some ownership and administration of it. The effort to ensure maximum feasible participation was short-lived. Threatened by the newly empowered poor, policymakers worked to progressively defund and dismantle these community-based anti-poverty programs. What began as a genuine attempt to empower the poor turned into “participation without redistribution of power, [allowing] the power holders to claim that all sides were considered but make it possible for only some sides to benefit. It maintain[ed] the status quo.” 7
Co-optation theory can help us understand why “maximum feasible participation” failed. Co-optation refers to the process by which powerholders respond to a threat to the status quo by neutralizing or absorbing movements that seek change. 8 Social movements that are co-opted will work with powerholders but gain no advantages from this partnership 9 . ‘Powerholders' are defined by scholars as individuals within powerful institutions—such as government agencies, foundations, and nonprofits—with the power to make decisions that challengers to the status quo seek. 10 The following sections use foundational co- optation theory to illustrate a three-stage model of how co-optation emerges in child welfare reform spaces. Stage One: A Threat to the Status Quo Emerges Co-optation begins when community mobilization presents a threat to the status quo. ______________ 3 United States, Congress, House Committee on Education. Economic Opportunity Act Amendments of 1967. Government Printing Office 1967. 4 Rubin, Lillian B. “Maximum Feasible Participation: The Origins, Implications, and Present Status.” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, vol. 385, 1969, pp. 14–29. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/ stable/1037533. 5 Bailey, Martha J., and Nicolas J. Duquette. "How Johnson Fought the War on Poverty: The Economics and Politics of Funding at the Office of Economic Opportunity." The Journal of Economic History, vol. 74, no. 2, 2014, pp. 351-388. 6 Naples, Nancy A. “Contradictions in the Gender Subtext of the War on Poverty: The Community Work and Resistance of Women from Low Income Communities.” Social Problems, vol. 38, no. 3, 1991, pp. 316–32, https://doi.org/10.2307/800602. 7 Sherry R. Arnstein (1969) A Ladder Of Citizen Participation, Journal of the American Institute of Planners, 35:4, 216-224, DOI: 10.1080/01944366908977225 8 Coy, Patrick G., and Timothy Hedeen. “A Stage Model of Social Movement Co-Optation: Community Mediation in the United States.” The Sociological Quarterly, vol. 46, no. 3, 2005, pp. 405–35. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/ stable/4120946. 9 IBID. 10 Markus Holdo (2019) Cooptation and non- cooptation: elite strategies in response to social protest, Social Movement Studies, 18:4, 444-462, DOI: 10.1080/14742837.2019.1577133
12 | FIJ Quarterly | Summer 2022
Powerholders may respond to this mobilization with genuine support for the movement's call to action. Yet, good intentions alone may be insufficient to mitigate the likeliness of co- optation. The tendency towards co-optation is, to a certain extent, inherent to the structures of interaction between challengers to powerful institutions and powerholders themselves. 11 Stage Two: Co-optation Occurs to Neutralize the Threat Co-Optation of Language Movements are defined by their rallying cry, the unique words and phrases used to encourage people to unite and act in support of a particular goal. Language may be intentionally provocative to draw attention to the cause. By co-opting a movement's language, powerholders can perform solidarity with a movement while simultaneously diluting its effectiveness and radical nature. This tactic may enable powerholders to redefine a movement’s language, distancing it from the revolutionary ideas that it initially evoked. Take, for example, the co-optation of the terms ‘reimagine’ and ‘transformation’ used by activists calling for the abolition of the child welfare system. 12 Foundations, system leaders, and organizations use these terms to describe fundamentally different goals. Co-opting and redefining language defuses and dilutes demands for change. As said by famed community organizer Saul Alinksy,
“Action comes from keeping the heat on. No politician can sit on a hot issue if you make it hot enough.” 13 Extinguishing heated calls for legislative change snuffs out any chance for meaningful policy change. Co-Optation of People Powerholders will also seek to neutralize a movement by co-opting its members via direct inclusion in decision-making or employment. In labor organizing, this is referred to as “labor busting.” In more colloquial terms, it is called buying people off. 14 Co-optation of people can occur even when powerholders are earnestly working to build consensus with and foster representation of the community. But consensus and co-optation can appear nearly identical in bodies marked by stark power imbalances. One tactic is “channeling.” 15 Powerholders will create centralized, orderly discussion and decision-making channels and invite individuals with lived experience to participate. 16 These channels include advisory boards, committees, and other workgroups. Channels replicate, not replace, the unequal balances of power between system leaders and those directly impacted by the system. Substantive power over the structure and mandate of channels is held by powerholders, while responsibility for administrative functions is shared with people with lived experience. 17 One pervasive example of how this plays out in practice is that advisory boards are structured so that child welfare system leaders retain sole oversight ______________ 11 Coy, Patrick G., and Timothy Hedeen. “A Stage Model of Social Movement Co-Optation: Community Mediation in the United States.” The Sociological Quarterly, vol. 46, no. 3, 2005, pp. 405–35. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/ stable/4120946. 12 Detlaff, Alan, et al. “The Power of Co-Opting: Language Is Changing, But Will It Change The Status Quo?” Upend Movement, 7 Apr. 2022, https://upendmovement. org/2022/04/07/language/. 13 Alinsky, Saul David. Rules for Radicals. 1972. 14 Alinsky, Saul. (2010). The War on Poverty‐Political Pornography1. Journal of Social Issues. 21. 41 - 47. 10.1111/j.1540-4560.1965.tb00482.x. 15 Coy, Patrick G., and Timothy Hedeen. “A Stage Model of Social Movement Co-Optation: Community Mediation in the United States.” The Sociological Quarterly, vol. 46, no. 3, 2005, pp. 405–35. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/ stable/4120946.
The Cycle of Co-optation
Community Mobilization Begins
Mobilization Becomes a Threat to the Status Quo
Nothing fundamentally changes
System leaders buy off movement leaders, through emplyment or paid positions on committees
System leaders co-opt language of advocates to act as if they stand in solidarity
16 Ibid. 17 Ibid.
Illustration by Author
FIJ Quarterly | Summer 2022 | 13
over the initiatives’ funding. Money—a critical form of power—is withheld from people with lived experience, although this is a supposed exercise in power-sharing. Within these channels, powerholders may also reorient individuals towards more moderate reforms. Rules may dictate, for example, that the body cannot engage in activities that are central to a movement's work. In the world of child welfare, this might mean that a channel developed in response to calls to change neglect statutes may dictate that the group does not engage in lobbying, despite it being a central tactic in advocating for legal change. Alternatively, powerholders may create focus groups or convene advisory boards as a means for rubber-stamping reforms that are palatable to their own agenda. Since these channels often have no formal governance mechanisms to ensure that feedback is integrated into the plan forward, powerholders may exploit these individuals for their endorsement and subsequently discard their advice. Invitations to join decision-making channels may be hard to pass up. Inclusion may appear to be an opportunity to leverage the credibility, resources, and political connections of more powerful institutions to secure movement wins. It’s especially tempting when that inclusion is well-compensated. Compensation is an intractable problem within asymmetrical power relations. Paying lower-income individuals for their time can ensure equitable inclusion, prevent financial barriers to participation, and honor their expertise. But funding structures that place authority for releasing funds solely with powerholders may intensify asymmetrical power relations. 18 I have seen this firsthand. In my younger years, when money was tight and I was a fledgling advocate participating in well- funded working groups, I feared dissenting from powerholders would mean risking the financial compensation I desperately needed. Another paradoxical challenge of inclusion is the psychology of procedural justice. Individuals who participate in decision-making are more likely to feel ownership over the process and resulting decisions, even when the outcome is not fully satisfactory to the individual. 19
Ultimately, these channels that begin as responses to radical calls for change result in a moderated plan for reform. This can best be illustrated by the endless creation of new working groups and committees on racial equity in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Sociologists studied one such partnership, which was a collaboration between community members and a child welfare agency to design and implement a solution to the overrepresentation of Black children. After a robust analysis, they concluded that it was “symbolic and the result of diversity without inclusion, that caused further exploitation of the Black community [and] resemble[d] tokenist approaches rather than meaningful and effective ways for addressing overrepresentation and racial disparity.” 20 Stage Three: Mobilization Ends Due to The Illusion That Powerholders Are Addressing Their Demands The final stage of co-optation is “salience control.” 21 The use of the movement’s language fosters trust within the community. The inclusion of community members—what some have called ‘a good face in a high place’— gives the illusion that they are the recipients of redistributed political power. Powerholders outwardly appear to be adequately addressing the demands, which erodes the movement's salience. The set of injustices that originally galvanized the movement remain intact. Nothing fundamentally changes. ______________ 18 Boatswain-Kyte, Alicia & Trocmé, Nico & Esposito, Tonino & Fast, Elizabeth. (2021). Child protection agencies collaborating with grass-root community organizations: partnership or tokenism?. Journal of Public Child Welfare. 1-27. 10.1080/15548732.2021.1891184. 19 Rick L. Lawrence, Steven E. Daniels & George H. Stankey (1997) Procedural justice and public involvement in natural resource decision making, Society & Natural Resources, 10:6, 577-589, DOI: 10.1080/08941929709381054 20 Boatswain-Kyte, Alicia & Trocmé, Nico & Esposito, Tonino & Fast, Elizabeth. (2021). Child protection agencies collaborating with grass-root community organizations: partnership or tokenism?. Journal of Public Child Welfare. 1-27. 10.1080/15548732.2021.1891184 21 Coy, Patrick G., and Timothy Hedeen. “A Stage Model of Social Movement Co-Optation: Community Mediation in the United States.” The Sociological Quarterly, vol. 46, no. 3, 2005, pp. 405–35. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/ stable/4120946.
14 | FIJ Quarterly | Summer 2022
Conclusion We have the once-in-a-generation opportunity to right the wrongs of child welfare. Our authors' calls to action are how we make that happen. Heeding their calls will require dynamic changes to law, to policy, and to our own internal belief systems about the value of people on the margins. These demands for change will be met with fierce opposition by those who reap compensation, high status, or other forms of power from current system structures. If we do not acknowledge the ways in which individuals and institutions have been shown to act to protect the status quo, collaboration with communities is, at best, a waste of resources. At worst, it is an abuse of the communities we purport to serve. We should not leave our review of the research believing that co-optation is a deterministic process. Movements can resist co-optation.
Movements can bring about a more just, humane world. As sociologists Patrick Coy and Timothy Heeden wrote in their stage model of co-optation, “the social dynamics of co- optation are not made up of some inexorable force progressing toward a preordained and complete co- opting of challenging movements.” 22 My intention in this foreword is to encourage you, the reader, to remain aware of and vigilant to co-optation, and begin to equip you with the tools to identify when it is happening. There is one last element needed: your courage. ______________ 22 IBID. _________________________ Lexie Grüber-Pérez is an incoming Service Design masters candidate at the Royal College of Art in London. She previously served as the Senior Advisor to the Associate Commissioner of the Children's Bureau during the Biden Administration.
FIJ Quarterly | Summer 2022 | 15
On The Cover The cover art was created by Akil Roper. Akil Roper was born and raised in New Jersey and is a social justice advocate, artist, and community member. You can contact him and see his work at akilroperart.com and on Instagram @akilroperart.
16 | FIJ Quarterly Spring 2022
FIJ Quarterly | Summer 2022 | 17
My Perspective Aprille Smith
to take a hold of my life. I started sleeping late, skipping class, withdrawing from my friends, and ended up on academic probation. So, I decided not to return to school and got a job at a local housing authority. At 20 years old, I became involved with a young man and eventually became pregnant with my oldest daughter. Unfortunately, he abandoned me during my pregnancy and that is how I became a single mother. I was upset, but I had a lot of family support, which allowed me to continue to pursue my dreams in music. My mother would not let me give up on my dreams. While I was working on my music career, my friend introduced me to a producer she was working with. The young producer graciously allowed me to bring my infant daughter with me to the studio to work on a music demo. He would play with her and let her play with the equipment. We eventually started dating and he became a fixture in my daughter’s life. They loved each other and she even referred to him as “daddy.” I later married the young producer and he embraced both my daughter and me into his life. We moved into his father's house in an upper middle-class neighborhood. I became pregnant with our second child. I thought we were the perfect family and that all our dreams would come true. Domestic Violence in Our Home Our fairytale didn’t last forever. A few years later, after our fourth child was born, my husband became emotionally distant. My husband often became extremely preoccupied with his career. I was left trying to raise our children with little support and unstable income. We couldn’t afford our home and pay our bills solely on his income. We often had to rely on family members for financial
In 2012, the unimaginable happened: The Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS now known as DCPP) removed my children from my care because I was a victim of domestic violence and was also severely depressed and suicidal. After their removal, I lost everything: my family, my sanity, my integrity, and my home. How did this happen? How could this happen to our family? This Wasn’t Supposed to Be My Life My ex-husband and I married at a very young age. Our parents were supportive and fully provided for us both emotionally and financially. They tried to give us everything we needed and did what they could to nurture our dreams. My mother was a highly educated, strong Black American woman, who had me later in life as a single parent. I was also raised with the help of my grandmother and my mother’s very best friends, who were effectively an extended family. We were not rich, and we lived in government housing. My mother saved and tried to offer me every opportunity to succeed in life, such as sending me to private schools. Through her, I thought I could be and do anything. After high school, I enrolled at Morgan State University, a historically black college or university (HBCU), where I majored in telecommunications and minored in music (I had high aspirations of working in the entertainment business). I always wanted to be an entertainer even when I was young girl. At first, school felt right. I had an amazing group of friends. I was on the Dean’s list throughout my first year. Even with everything going well, I started to suffer from serious depression and anxiety, though I was not diagnosed until later. By the end of my sophomore year, the depression and anxiety intensified and started
18 | FIJ Quarterly | Summer 2022
FIJ Quarterly | Summer 2022 | 19
Original Artwork from April Lee
support; I did not work, as I primarily focused on raising our children. Financial constraints led to tensions in our marriage. He often would take out his frustrations on me with physical violence. I stayed in our marriage for our children. I wanted our children to have a father—unlike my experience. Our family was crumbling inside and out. We were unable to care for our home due to financial setbacks and the domestic violence in the home. There were days that we could not care for our yard. The township constantly cited us for violations and served us with summons to appear in court because of lawn maintenance and noise complaints. We started to become a target for our neighbors. An older man from the township constantly harassed me about the toys left on my porch. It felt like we were the unwanted Black family in the neighborhood. The constant and unnecessary interference by our neighbors and municipality
devolved into rage in our home. My husband unfortunately took out his frustrations on me with his fists. Thoughts of Suicide The fighting between my husband and me became more intense and physical. I often felt like he was abandoning us. I often became depressed and on more than one occasion suicidal. As a result, I made the difficult decision to separate. When my youngest was about 3 and my oldest was about 13, I sent them to stay with their aunt in Pennsylvania for the summer, until I could figure out how to separate from my husband. Needless to say, the abuse continued as the separation enraged my husband. He refused to cooperate with me at all, even with the children. He would blow up if he had to care for the children while I was out. He often
20 | FIJ Quarterly | Summer 2022
The Mental Health and Medical Community That whole ordeal with the arrest and incarceration made me feel less than human. No one asked me if I was okay, if I needed support, or what was wrong. I felt like an animal in a cage. The female officer took me to the county jail the next day. However, the intake officer declared me mentally unstable based on how I answered the intake questions. I remember feeling scared, panicked, and worried about my kids. They subsequently had to transfer me to East Orange Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. Because the psychiatric unit was at maximum capacity, I was put in a separate psych ward where I discovered I had severe iron deficiencies, which exacerbated my anxiety and depression and caused irrational behavior. As such, my suicidal thoughts, depression, and anxiety most likely were also related to my medical condition and health issues. Everyone, my husband, the police, and DYFS, were treating me like I was just crazy, but I was actually physically sick along with suffering from mental health issues. Neither the hospital nor DYFS made any efforts to contact my family while I was in the psych ward. My mother wanted to care for my kids while I was gone, but DYFS would not give the children to her or their aunts. No one in my family was allowed to take custody of my children, which was devastating. I spent two weeks in the hospital without seeing or hearing from my children. After my hospital stay, I was transferred to the county jail where I was stripped searched and had to undergo a humiliating cavity search. In jail, I refused to eat because the food was slop on a piece of bread. I felt like I was being treated less than human. I was so ashamed and depressed. I slept the entire time, until I was called to court. I sunk deeper into my depression. I was released because my husband dropped the charges. I hadn't been in jail long enough, so they didn't process my belongings, which included my purse with all my cash, keys, phone, and my bank card. Everything was lost or taken and the officer in charge sent me away in tears with a bus card.
would harass me at work all throughout the day. I tried to seek mental health assistance, but I did not have adequate health insurance to cover the cost. No services near me accepted Medicaid. All of this turmoil at home and at work caused me to become mentally exhausted. I often would have suicidal thoughts where I contemplated slitting my wrists. One day after a heated argument during dinner preparation, I locked myself in the bathroom with a knife to slit my wrists. Alarmed, my husband instructed my daughter to call the police. Fortunately, I could not go through with it because the knife was too dull. Because I knew the cops were going to come and possibly take me away from my children, I told them to eat quickly before the police came. After that conversation, I decided to run away and let them be in the care of my husband. Little did I know, he had some outstanding warrants for his arrest for unpaid traffic tickets. I walked onto some train tracks and contemplated ending my life there, but I couldn't do it because it was selfish. Why cause harm and inconvenience to the people on the train? These were my thoughts. The police then found me at the scene of my suicide attempt at the train tracks. Eventually, a black female officer forcibly subdued me, and I was taken to the local police station and locked in a brick room with a window and a heavy steel door. I heard my husband, the female officer, and another officer all laughing together. I yelled at them through the wall because I wanted to know where my children were. The officer said they were in foster care. I was so distraught that I began to scream profanities at my husband and the officers. They released my husband, but I was still being held. The chief said he wasn't allowed to let me go, because I was being charged for assault with a deadly weapon. My husband had told the police that he thought I was trying to attack him with the knife. The chief was familiar with our family because of previous domestic violence altercations. I felt like my life was over and no one cared. I couldn’t trust anyone-the police, my husband, and DYFS for taking my kids.
FIJ Quarterly | Summer 2022 | 21
The Foster System Community Failed Us
That stay in jail, although 36 hours long, felt like an eternity. Not once did anyway ask if I was okay. While at the hospital, jail, and psych ward, I felt so isolated, and no one tried to help me or understand what it felt like to have your children taken. I was just a crazy, angry black woman to the mental health community and to the police. Everyone thought I deserved to be there and that my children were being saved from me. DCPP and the Court Did Not Help Me or My Family After the arrest, hospital stay, and release, I couldn't get in touch with my mom or my children. So, I headed back to my home in the suburbs. Once there, I called my mom, and we eventually went to the DYFS building where I briefly saw my children. They were taken because I was believed to be mentally unstable. There were no efforts or attempts by DYFS to help me stop the separation. After they were taken, I was asked to do a million things from getting to therapy, to getting a restraining order and filing for divorce, to securing housing and getting a job. I was asked to be “less crazy” and “less angry.” DYFS never took time to understand me. They thought, if I was being abused, why didn’t I leave my husband? If I was depressed, just be strong and get therapy for your children. I was expected to be well and strong but without anyone trying to help me get there. At the court, I felt like the judge hated me. He was mad that I was still married and not divorced. He thought I was trying to get back with my husband. He was mad that I wasn’t in all the therapies ordered (I couldn’t go because there were waitlists or they were too far away). I wasn’t allowed to talk in court. If I talked in court, the judge would roll his eyes at me. He didn’t see me as a mother fighting for my children—he saw me as an angry and crazy black woman trying to get my husband back. I was so ashamed and felt like I was nothing every time I went to court.
I found out that DYFS split my children up. The boys were placed with an older woman. My girls were placed in extremely traumatizing situations. The first night my middle daughter was placed in a very nice home, but she wasn't with her siblings. She spent the whole night crying. It still breaks my heart when I think about what the situation has put her through. My oldest daughter was placed with her baby sister in other homes. The girls were eventually reunited, but the foster homes that they were placed in, which totaled about three, were constantly a problem. Since my oldest was about 13, she was overprotective of her siblings and fought with the foster family to ensure that they were treated well. In one home, my girls were exposed to other girls around their age who used vulgar and explicit language, especially in reference to their body parts. I was very upset with the system, not only because they took my children away from their family, but because they put them in unsafe homes. My girls never felt like they were part of the foster home’s family. They were never truly accepted or loved by these strangers. They also took my children away from all their extended family—their aunts, uncles, and cousins. They were separated and disconnected. T.S., A Friend Who Became a Foster Parent to Save Us The children were still attending school in their hometown. I was still allowed to speak to them on the phone and visit with them two days a week at a parenting facility provided by DYFS. My son’s friend’s mother, T.S., found out what was happening to me and my family. She fought and asked to be the foster parent for the whole family. She reunited my sons and daughters into one home. Although I was extremely embarrassed that the whole town knew my business, I was very grateful that I was getting the help that my family so desperately needed. I had almost lost all hope in humanity, but this woman literally saved my family's lives and well-being. T.S. was my hero. She became my children’s biggest
22 | FIJ Quarterly | Summer 2022
community. I hope and wish that no one has to go through what I went through, and that people will hear my story and change things.
advocate and foster parent, along with my sister-in-law, until I eventually won my case, moved into a bigger house with my mother, and took care of my children. T.S. started to support me and help repair our family. She would let me have family time in her home like how we used to live together in our old house. I would come over almost every day after the kids were placed with her. We would watch movies and order pizza. This changed our lives. I felt supported and loved and my children started to heal once we were back together. After some time, my children were returned to me and my DYFS case was closed. I am now divorced and have a good relationship with my children’s father. We work together for our children. All my children are active in arts and music. But it’s far from a happy ending because I still deal with anxiety and depression. I panic every time a stranger knocks on the door. What Communities Need to Know and Do Better What I wish would change? I wish that the system would have tried harder to place my children with a relative instead of traumatizing them further by splitting them up and placing them with strangers. I wish there was a place in my community where I could have received the help I needed. I wish the Medicaid system would try to find out why therapists and psychiatrists in my neighborhood refuse to accept Medicaid. I wish it wasn't so hard to get help for utilities or homecare needs. Although it's a little simpler, as of late, I wish it was easier to get a job that helps people work around their family’s hours. I wish there was a way to find legitimate at-home careers, affordable childcare, and activities. I’m sure the justice system has changed significantly since our case but being a woman of color who suffered from mental trauma made me feel like a criminal in their eyes. They should have recognized that I was suffering and that I needed help, not punishment. I should not have been treated like a criminal simply for being depressed. I wish I was bubble-wrapped and insulated from everyone—my neighborhood, DYFS, police officers, and the mental health
Quincy and Aprille Smith _________________________
Aprille Smith is a proud mother and community organizer in New Jersey. She hopes to continue her efforts in supporting parents and children who have experienced the child welfare system.
FIJ Quarterly | Summer 2022 | 23
Butterfly By Quincy Smith there’s irritable distant Between this feeling As if past was not true And the me I once knew And now I feel it Tingling upon my spin A memoir of healing And this intuition of height But that’s the changes of a butterfly
24 | FIJ Quarterly | Summer 2022
FIJ Quarterly | Summer 2022 | 25
From a Child to a File: Why Parents, Families, and Communities are the Agents of Change in Children's Lives, not Governments and Services Kevin Campbell, Raif O'Neal, and Elizabeth Wendel A Child as a File was also a member of the Eugenics Society and believed in "improving the human race" by controlling reproduction. 1,2
Few Americans know much about the creation of the modern welfare state. Our references and understanding are shaped primarily by our personal experiences or professional affiliations with welfare systems and programs. Many have said our history matters; some have warned that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Unfortunately, there are few more significant examples of the wisdom behind these words than the decades of effort and failure to reform social welfare systems in Western democracies.
The trouble with Beveridge and what would become the American postwar welfare state begins here. Beveridge believed, like other eugenicists, that the poor, indigenous, stateless, persons with disabilities, persons with mental health conditions, women who conceived outside of marriage, and those convicted of crimes were subhuman and could not become fully capable and contributing members of society. America's elite and powerful agreed with him. Thus, the welfare state must create social welfare bureaucracies, both public, private, and church-run, operated by those from higher classes who would become the case managers of the poor—substituting their values and fully human capabilities for those afflicted with the ‘pauper gene’. 3,4 This view of a postwar world without anyone poor, indigenous, or descended from enslaved people became central to the ‘opportunity’ for building a new America without the poor. ______________ 1 Antwerp University. “1942 William Henry Beveridge: Architect of the Welfare State.” History of Social Work , 2019, https://historyofsocialwork.org/eng/details. php?cps=14&canon_id=134. 2 Beveridge, W. “Social Insurance and Allied Services. 1942.” Bulletin of the World Health Organization , World Health Organization, 2000, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih. gov/pmc/articles/PMC2560775/. 3 Platt, Lucinda. “Beatrice Webb, William Beveridge, Poverty, and the Minority Report on the Poor Law.” LSE History Beatrice Webb William Beveridge Poverty and the Minority Report on The Poor Law Comments , 2018, https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/lsehistory/2018/02/23/ beatrice-webb-william-beveridge-poverty-and-the- minority-report-on-the-poor-law/. 4 MacKinnon, Mary. “Poor Law Policy, Unemployment, and Pauperism.” Explorations in Economic History , Academic Press, 15 Nov. 2004, https://www.sciencedirect. com/science/article/abs/pii/0014498386900070.
What can explain the repeated harms of governments, charities, and institutions over decades of effort to deliver on the promise of just and dignified social and health systems? William Beveridge, a revered figure in the United Kingdom, is seen as the father of the modern welfare state in postwar democracies. Beveridge was the Director of the London School of Economics before leaving for Oxford University. Beveridge published a plan for cradle-to-grave social insurance for Britain in October 1942. However, his most cherished contribution today was creating the National Health Service. Lord Beveridge
26 | FIJ Quarterly | Summer 2022Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55 Page 56 Page 57 Page 58 Page 59 Page 60 Page 61 Page 62 Page 63 Page 64 Page 65 Page 66 Page 67 Page 68 Page 69 Page 70 Page 71 Page 72 Page 73 Page 74 Page 75 Page 76 Page 77 Page 78 Page 79 Page 80 Page 81 Page 82 Page 83 Page 84 Page 85 Page 86 Page 87 Page 88 Page 89 Page 90 Page 91 Page 92 Page 93 Page 94 Page 95 Page 96 Page 97 Page 98 Page 99 Page 100 Page 101 Page 102 Page 103 Page 104 Page 105 Page 106 Page 107 Page 108 Page 109 Page 110 Page 111 Page 112 Page 113 Page 114 Page 115 Page 116 Page 117 Page 118 Page 119 Page 120 Page 121 Page 122
Powered by FlippingBook