Houston, TX (January 20, 2022) —– The upEND Movement is beginning the new year in its new home at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work and expanding our team. We welcome a new program director and communications manager to join us in our ongoing commitment to building a movement of abolishing the child welfare system. We more accurately refer to this as the family policing system*.

Focusing on abolishing the family policing system, upEND Movement’s mission is to protect Black, Brown, and Native children and reimagine how to serve and support children and families. The movement was borne as a response to a system predicated on the subjugation, surveillance, control, and punishment of mostly Black and Native communities experiencing significant poverty. Given the critical importance of this work, we are committed to growing the movement and collaborating with partners to move our collective work forward.

“At the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, our vision is to achieve social, racial, economic, and political justice for all,” said Alan J. Dettlaff, Dean of the College. “Part of this commitment includes confronting the systems that maintain injustice and oppression and working to achieve liberation. As social workers, we must commit to ending our complicity in harmful, racist systems and work to eliminate the harms we have been complicit in perpetuating. This will only occur when abolition of the family policing system is fully realized.”

Taking the helm as upEND Movement’s first full time Program Director, Josie Pickens joins the team with over two decades of experience organizing in Black and Brown communities, which includes various abolition and mutual aid centered projects focusing on creating safe and sustainable communities. Pickens is a feminist, abolitionist educator, writer, and cultural critic, who will expand upEND Movement’s capacity to connect and collaborate with other abolitionist organizations. Shannon Wright is the new lead for upEND Movement’s communications, lending her expertise in branding and social media management to increase awareness about the need for abolition beyond academia.

Throughout 2022, we will continue unpacking issues including a focus on deconstructing the carceral logic of the family policing system. As we explore, we will also highlight new strategies and community designed innovations and provide a platform for the deep work of imagining how to move beyond it.
“The upEND Movement is part of a growing drumbeat to stop separating and harming children and their families, said Kristen Weber, Director of Equity, Inclusion, and Justice at the Center for the Study of Social Policy. “We must collectively do better. 2022 is not a time to be neutral; this is not a time to continue debating if racial inequities exist. 2022 and beyond is a time to dream and create in community with one another. To that end, upEND will continue to share and learn from the work of Black and Native parents, organizers, and activists. upEND will host large and small gatherings to exchange ideas, develop resources, and imagine together. We will continue to delve deeper into the strategies in our How We endUP report and reframe old arguments and research from an abolitionist perspective. “

We invite you to connect with us in building a movement to radically shift how we view the safety and protection of children by imagining a society in which the forcible separation of children from their families is no longer acceptable. Please visit our website upendmovement.org to sign up for our newsletter and join the conversation with us on social media. We welcome your feedback, questions, and ideas.

* The upEND Movement has adopted the term family policing to refer to the child welfare system, as this term more accurately captures the roles this system plays in the lives of families, which includes surveillance, regulation, and punishment, all roles associated with policing rather than children’s welfare.