FIJ Quarterly - Summer 2022 Edition

welfare system, as a significant body of research has highlighted disproportionality in the child welfare system. In 2019, Indigenous children made up one percent of the child population and accounted for two percent of the foster care population, while Black children accounted for roughly 14 percent of the child welfare population and 23 percent of the foster care population. 2 Hispanic children were also overrepresented in 20 States in 2018. 3 When recounting through the country’s history of boarding schools and slavery, it is evident that Black, Brown and Indigenous children and families have been perceived as disposable to some people, and the lack of reform, change and investments in families only compound this disturbing truth. Family separation as a solution to the reality that caregivers cannot go it alone is woven into the fabric of the United States. It remains activated through child welfare under the guise of children’s’ best interests when research and lived experiences show those interests are better served by providing needed support to the entire family. Family separation is devastating, and in hearing from those most impacted children and families, we can relay countless stories from families that convey this clear message: “We do not want to be torn apart.” This is corroborated by Shrounda herself as an impacted parent. Children and their parents share the despair, trauma, and heartache of being separated from one another: from a child’s perspective, entering the child welfare system is and always will be complicated. It shakes up their identity and leaves them questioning what is safe, what is home, and will shift their entire view of the world, which has a lifetime impact. 4 Black parents have publicly shared their stories of oppression, trauma, and unwarranted interference in their lives by child welfare agencies, including the removal of their children despite little to no evidence of harm. 5 Indeed, there are long days and nights of sorrow, fear, and worry for these suffering parents who do not know their children’s whereabouts and their welfare in the hands of strangers. This thrusts families into a state of crisis when support and resources would solve many of the problems presented. There is insurmountable evidence and an overwhelming amount of research that states most families enter child

welfare due to neglect, and these studies show poverty is often conflated with neglect, leading to the unnecessary removal of children by child welfare which can induce trauma and maladaptive behaviors. 6 We contend that societal and historical neglect are contributing factors that need to be addressed, along with the distribution and prioritization of providing resources directly to communities. Understanding History Long-standing child and family organizations in the United States, like the Children’s Home Society of Washington (CHSW), are descendants of British colonization and the White settler movement of the American West. As such, the values and beliefs regarding the expectations of how families should function and raise their children have always been deeply impacted by the dominant cultures, first in British and then colonial American societies. The systems of family separation and the “rehoming” of children have evolved since colonization. Today, there are roughly a half million children and their families who are disproportionally people of color caught in our national foster care system. CHSW and other similar organizations have an obligation to understand their histories in this context, and how they have contributed to White supremacist structures that have harmed the poor, people of color, and other disenfranchised groups. Because of this unique ______________ 2 “Children in Poverty by Race and Ethnicity: Kids Count Data Center.” KIDS COUNT Data Center: A Project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation , https://datacenter. race-and-ethnicity 3 Puzzanchera, C., & Taylor, M. Disproportionality Rates for Children of Color in Foster Care. National Center for Juvenile Justice . 2020 Disproportionality_Dashboard.aspx 4 Amanda, Cruce, et al. Building Relationships of Hope. FOSTERING FAMILIES TODAY . January 2022, https:// relationships_of_hope.pdf 5 Sangoi, Lisa, How the Foster System Has Become Ground Zero for the US Drug War, Movement for Fam. Rise Mag . Accessed 4 May 2022, 6 Morton, Tom & McDonald, Jess. America Must Changes its Views on Poverty and Neglect, Imprint News , 15 Feb. 2021, america-must-change-its-view-of-poverty-and- neglect/51659

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