Who We Are

The upEND Movement is a collaborative movement that works to abolish the existing child welfare system, which is built on a model of surveillance and separation and is more accurately described as a family policing system. Abolition requires ending this oppressive system AND imagining and recreating the ways in which society supports children, families, and communities in being safe and thriving.

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Why upEND the system?

We have known for decades that Black, Native, and, in many jurisdictions, Latine children have disproportionately high rates of family separation and involvement with child welfare systems. We also know that foster care causes trauma and harm. In addition to the harm of family separation, children experience trauma from failed or unsafe placements, multiple moves while in care, and loss of connections to friends, extended family, and school. Children who spend extended time in foster care are at high risk for a host of negative outcomes including poverty, homelessness, joblessness, mental health disorders, and involvement with the criminal punishment system.

We strive for abolition because we understand that the biggest threats to child safety and well-being are ingrained anti-Blackness in our policies and practices; economic exploitation produced by racial capitalism; the continuing cultural genocide produced by colonialism; gender oppression sustained through patriarchy; and White supremacist norms of good parenting, family, and safety—norms that maintain power in the hands of oppressive systems. We seek to build a society where children, families, and communities self-determine what well-being and safety mean for them and are supported with the resources to do so.

We build on the work of reproductive justice, which centers bodily autonomy and asserts that parents should live in a society where they have the power to make decisions about how and when they will parent and the ability to raise their families in conditions that are free of oppression. In other words, we seek to build a world where the care, support, and well-being of children, families, and communities is fully realized.



Meet the Staff

Josie Pickens, Program Director

Josie Pickens is a Houston, TX-based organizer, educator, journalist, and culturalist whose writings and public conversations focus on race, gender, and sexuality. Josie has been regularly published in Ebony, Essence, Bitch, The Root, Cassius, Mic, and more. She has more than twenty years of community organizing experience where her focus has been prison-industrial-complex-abolition, family policing system abolition, and building mutual aid networks.

Sydnie Mares, Communications Manager

Sydnie Dan’el Mares is a creator committed to supporting and uplifting marginalized communities through an abolitionist lens. Sydnie uses her experience in graphic design, video production, and communications to build a future free of carceral systems where Black, LGBTQ, and immigrant communities can thrive. 



upEND Advisors

Alan Dettlaff

Alan Dettlaff is a Mexican-American scholar, author, and abolitionist. Alan began his career as a social worker in the family policing system. Today his work focuses on ending the harm that results from this system. He is author of Confronting the Racist Legacy of the American Child Welfare System: The Case for Abolition, published by Oxford University Press in 2023.

Maya Pendleton 

Maya Pendleton has been a part of the upEND movement since its inception. She currently works as researcher and writer for the upEND movement, focusing on how we abolish the family policing system, the harms of the current system to children, families and communities, and the world we will build post family policing.

connease warren

connease warren (she/her) is a veteran communications strategist and writer who has led bold, innovative campaigns centering racial justice and abolition. connease thinks daily about ways the written word advances and sustains abolitionist conversations, ideas, and actions. She believes joy is an act of revolution that she pursues through reading and writing poetry, singing, practicing yoga, roller skating, and hiking.

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