The following is an excerpt from “Five myths about the child welfare system,” written by Dorothy E. Roberts, George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology and the Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights, and published at The Washington Post:
The U.S. Children’s Bureau describes the child welfare system as “a group of services designed to promote the well-being of children by ensuring safety, achieving permanency, and strengthening families.” But developments like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent instructions to state agencies to investigate gender-affirming medical care as possible child abuse have helped to shatter the system’s benevolent veneer. Many people hold misconceptions about this arm of the government, which spends some $30 billion annually in federal, state and local funds regulating the families of 3.5 million children. Before we can reimagine how to support families and keep children safe, we first have to dispel some common myths about this system… .
Roberts is an acclaimed scholar of race, gender, and the law. Her recently published book, Torn Apart: How the Child Welfare System Destroys Black Families – and How Abolition Can Build a Safer World, draws on decades of her research and scholarship, builds upon her previous groundbreaking book, Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare, and reveals that the child welfare system is yet another punitive way the government treats Black mothers; Black children are disproportionately torn from their families and placed in foster care, interfering with their education, social relationships, and well-being and driving many to juvenile detention and imprisonment.
Roberts joined the University of Pennsylvania as its 14th Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor with joint appointments in the Departments of Africana Studies and Sociology and the Law School. Roberts is also founding director of the Penn Program on Race, Science & Society in the Center for Africana Studies.