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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Derecka Purnell and Dorothy Roberts keynote picture

Visit the upEND videos page to access recordings from our annual convening How We endUP | A Future without Family Policing held on October 26 – 27, 2021!

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News & Resources

upEND Blog

The Power of Co-Opting: Language Is Changing, But Will It Change the Status Quo?

Language is powerful. The words we use signal how we make sense of the world – and people – around us. When we call a system that surveils, regulates, punishes, and forcibly separates families a “child welfare system,” we misconstrue that system’s purpose and actions…more.

April 7, 2022

upEND Resource

Surveillance of Black Families in the Family Policing System

This upEND publication by Victoria Copeland and Maya Pendleton discusses how the monitoring and subsequent criminalization of Black communities have expanded from the criminal punishment system to social services, education, medical systems, and the family policing system…more.

December 14, 2021

upEND Resource

How We Map: A Creative Exploration Space – Archive and Reflection

How We Map was a two-day creative exploration created by Benjamin Lundberg Torres Sánchez for upEND Movement’s How We endUP convening in 2021. Through this experience the conference community began to collectively map conditions that uphold the Child Welfare Industrial Complex…more.

December 14, 2021

upEND Blog

The Carceral Logic of the Family Policing System

By including the family policing system in their book Prison by Any Other Name, Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law link the punitive nature of the prison system to “the current punitive model for social services”…more.

November 17, 2021

upEND Blog

Finding Space to Imagine: How White Supremacy Culture Stifles Creativity

Launched just over a year ago, the upEND Movement seeks to end the child welfare system…as it relies on surveillance and separation of children from their families. Many are calling for reforming…more.

August 11, 2021

Early Learning Nation

New upEND Publication Calls for Fundamental Transformation of Family Policing

Last fall, I wrote about upEND, a new project focused on addressing structural inequities in the country’s child welfare system…more.

July 27, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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