About the Framework

The questions in this document provide a guide to analyze whether proposed reforms to family policing further entrench the family policing system or move us closer to abolition of family policing. The questions we ask are a reflection of the world we want to build—one without family policing and one where children are safer.

We seek to: end the reach of the family policing system; end the prospect of harm caused by family policing; take away the power of the family policing system; and diminish the legitimacy of the family policing system, while also seeking to affirm child, family, and community autonomy; promote healing for children, families, and communities; increase access to direct supports; and create a society where the need for a family policing system is obsolete.

This framework is adapted from the work of Critical Resistance, who developed a framework for evaluating proposed reforms to policing. While the child welfare system is not always included in larger conversations about police and prison abolition, we understand family policing to be a key component of the carceral state. The reforms in this guide are not as well-known as some of the major reforms to policing; yet just as reforms to policing fatally misunderstand the problem of policing, so do many of the major proposed reforms to child welfare.

 

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Example page from Abolitionist Framework Document

 

Put the framework into practice

  1. Propose an idea (reform or abolitionist step)
  2. Ask if your proposal achieves desired outcomes
  3. Download a PDF with your responses

 

Abolitionist Framework Worksheet

This is a preview of the online form you can use to create your own framework.

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Framework for evaluating reformist reforms vs. Abolitionist steps to end the family policing system
Does the Reform or Abolitionst Step ACHIEVE THIS OUTCOME ?
Does it... reduce the prospect of harm reduce the reach of the family policing system diminish the legitimacy of the family policing system promote child/family/community autonomy promote a society where the need for family policing is obsolete promote healing reduce the power of the family policing system increase access to direct supports reduce the reach of the family policing system promote healing
Does providing families with supports that reinforce individual pathologies, such as mental health, drug treatment, and parenting classes reduce the reach of the family policing system? No. Programs such as the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) expand the reach of the family policing system through the creation of a new service track.
Does repealing policies that require timelines for terminating parental rights reduce the reach of the family policing system? Yes. Repealing laws like the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) results in fewer families being permanently severed by the family policing system and facilitates the reunification of children with their families.
Explore the framework at upendmovement.org/resources