Module 1

Module One: Family Separation as Terror

Review the history of family separations in the United States that began during the era of human chattel slavery and the harm that results from these separations through the narratives of formerly enslaved people.

Module 2

Module Two: A Racist Foundation

Understand Black children’s continued separation and enslavement following the formal abolition of slavery.

Module Three: A Racist Transformation

Understand the changing public sentiments towards “welfare,” the “discovery” of child abuse in the early 1960s, and the racial unrest that accompanied the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. 

Module Four: Manifestations of Surveillance, Regulation, and Punishment in the Afterlife of Slavery

Get an overview of the carceral logic that undergirds today’s child welfare system and the functions of surveillance, regulation, and punishment.

Module Five: Intended Consequences

Review the harm that results to Black children, families, and communities from forcible family separations and placement in foster care.

Module Six: Reforms Are Designed to Fail

Reforms are used by the family policing system as a mirage to reassure the public.

Module Seven: Abolition, Part 1

Available January 2024

Module Eight: Abolition, Part 2

Available January 2024


About the Syllabus


This syllabus and the first season of The upEND Podcast follow the chapters in Confronting the Racist Legacy of the American Child Welfare System: A Case for Abolition by Alan Dettlaff.

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