The child welfare system is predicated on the subjugation, surveillance, control, and punishment of mostly poor Black and Native children and families. We more accurately refer to this as the family policing system.* The system and its supporters portray family policing as a legitimate, supportive helping system—one that protects the safety and well-being of children through necessary state-sanctioned interventions. But the history and reality of the system’s impact on the lives of children, families, and communities underscores the ways in which the system functions to maintain anti-Blackness, White supremacy, racial capitalism, and colonialism. We can collectively do better.

How We endUP puts forth ideas about how we can, in community, improve support and care for children, youth, and families as we move towards the abolition of family policing. These ideas are intertwined and address what must be dismantled as well as what must be created and supported. This is not a prescription with detailed policy and practice recommendations—we believe that work must be done within communities. Our intention is to contribute to work already occurring and provoke new actions and innovations from others. We invite you to build on these ideas, share with us the actions you are undertaking, and let us know ideas we missed.

*We use the term family policing system to refer to what has more commonly been known as the child welfare system. We believe this term more accurately captures the roles this system plays in the lives of families, which include surveillance, regulation, and punishment, all roles associated with policing rather than children’s welfare. These roles are used to maintain the control and oppression of Black, Native, and Latinx families, which is also consistent with the practice of policing.

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News & Resources

Journal of Public Child Welfare

It is not a broken system, it is a system that needs to be broken: the upEND movement to abolish the child welfare system

The child welfare system disproportionately harms Black children and families through systemic over-surveillance, over-involvement, and the resulting adverse outcomes associated with foster care. Ending this harm…more.

September 6, 2020

A Second Chance

Being with Family Is a Human Right: We Can’t and Won’t Deny It

Being with family is a human right. That’s where this article should end—with the common-sense fact that drives the work of A Second Chance, Inc. Yet, we are continually…more.

December 14, 2020

Mother Jones

Do We Need to Abolish Child Protective Services?

On a steamy Saturday in late June, Joyce McMillan stood outside the Brooklyn Family Court wearing a T-shirt that had “TRUTH OVER TRADITION” emblazoned across the front. A crowd…more.

December 10, 2020

Columbia Journal of Race and Law

Making Possible the Impossible: A Black Feminist Perspective on Child Welfare Abolition

In 1863, Harriet Tubman and eight of her trusted scouts orchestrated the Combahee River uprising in South Carolina. The uprising, which followed a year of planning and organizing…more.

February 20, 2021

The Imprint

What It Means to Abolish Child Welfare As We Know It

The trauma and harm to families and communities caused by intrusive child welfare system interventions is well documented by multiple sources – to the degree that many argue the system can be more accurately viewed as the family policing… more.

October 24, 2020

The Grio

The foster care system and others failed Ma’Khia Bryant—and Black kids like her

W.E.B. DuBois wrote these words in 1904 to convey the mean-spiritedness of mainstream life to the first generation of Black children growing up in the decades after slavery. His words still ring true today…more.

April 23, 2021

The Imprint

Expand Support for Families, But Not Inside the Child Welfare System

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recent announcement that New York City will invest millions in “family enrichment centers” sounds like a win for families. But this initiative should be reconsidered, and…more.

June 4, 2021

Join the #upENDmovement

We are in a moment of incredible disruption. Make your voice heard in the movement.