Washington, DC and Houston, TX (June 18, 2021)—Last year, in the shadow of Juneteenth, which commemorates the day news of emancipation from human chattel slavery reached Galveston, Texas in 1866, and during the tumultuous summer of 2020, we launched upEND—a movement to abolish the child welfare system and center the experiences of Black, Native, and Latinx children and their families.

The upEND Movement is a response to a child welfare system predicated on the subjugation, surveillance, control, and punishment of mostly Black and Native communities experiencing significant poverty. 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. Collectively, we can do better.

Today, one year later, we commemorate our first anniversary alongside the 156th commemoration of Juneteenth with How We endUP—a set of ideas about how we can, in community, end family policing and transform support and care for children, youth, and families. These ideas are intertwined and address what must be dismantled as well as what must be created and supported. How We endUP 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.

How We endUP is the result of a months-long collaborative process that engaged abolitionists, thought leaders, and those impacted by the family policing system to identify the immediate steps we can take to beginning the process of abolishing the family police,” said Alan J. Dettlaff, Dean of the Graduate College of Social Work at the University of Houston. “We are incredibly grateful to our reviewers and partners and are honored to stand in solidarity with each of you.”

“For decades now, the family policing system has been trying to reform itself. The upEND movement shifts the focus from reforming the existing system or replacing it with another system. How We endUP provides ideas on abolition as a solution,” said Kristen Weber, Director of Equity, Inclusion, and Justice at the Center for the Study of Social Policy. “Abolition involves simultaneously dismantling the racist policies and structures that produce harm and replacing them with resources and supports designed by families and communities that promote the safety and well-being of children in their homes. Ultimately, abolition is about creating the conditions in society where the need for family policing is obsolete.”

We will further explore and strategize about the ideas set forth in How We endUP on October 26-27, 2021, at the second annual convening of organizers, activists, scholars, and community leaders who are committed to dismantling the family policing system. We invite abolitionists & those impacted by the Family Policing System to join us and build on these ideas, share with us the actions they are undertaking, and suggest other ideas that should be included.

* The upEND Movement has adopted the term family policing to refer to the child welfare system.