Module 11 Reflection

Child Welfare

What is the child welfare system?

The child welfare system is a "three-part federal mandate to promote safety, permanency, and well-being for children experiencing or at risk of child maltreatment," (Berger, L. & Slack, K., 2020). We are most familiar with CPS (Child Protective Services) and the Foster Care System. There is a part of the child welfare system that also provides education to parents, so they can improve their skills and get their children back home.

What is foster care? What is foster care like for youth/children? What is foster care to prison pipeline?

Foster Care is a temporary safe home for children to go to when they are removed from their home. Foster Parents volunteer to take in children. Although they are paid, not everyone signs up to be a foster parent. One of the videos mentioned that the number of foster parents is declining.

Being in foster care is rough on children; it can even be traumatic. Children in foster care fall behind in school, are less likely to graduate, more likely to end up homeless, and very likely to end up in prison. One of the videos shared that 80% of the kids in foster care suffer from significant mental health problems.

About 40% in the juvenile justice system have been in foster care. Around 25% of people in foster care will enter the justice system two years after aging out. It's a systemic problem. Being in foster care is like being institutionalized. Being in prison is also being institutionalized. Since these kids have been failed by many systems: their home life/family, poverty, systemic racism, education, they turn to a life of crime. Many commit crimes of survival.

What are some issues with the U.S. child welfare system in terms of equity? Are certain groups overrepresented or targeted? What are ways to combat racism/classism in the system?

The speaker on the TEDTalk shared that if children are white, families are more likely to stay together and less likely to go through a full investigation. On the other hand, black families are 4xs more likely to have their kids removed and they stay longer in foster care. The speakers shared a quote, "If you live in a poor neighborhood, you better be a perfect parent." I feel like poverty and race really target families who have been referred to child welfare services.

The TEDTalk speaker introduced the idea of Blind Removal Meetings. This is when the case worker goes out to the home, visists the family, then goes back to the office and shares everything with a committee. None of the identifying information is shared (including race and neighborhood). This has cut down on the number of removals in the neighborhood where the study was conducted. Since we all have implicit bias, this method would help combat racism and classism.

Reflect on your learning experience for this module

How did this module's content relate to prior courses or your own experiences?

My role in the child welfare system has mostly been as a reporter. When I've had to call CPS, I believed I was going the right thing for the child. I only did it a handful of times in my teaching career. mentioned on Discord, my ex-husband works for CPS. I've heard good and bad stories. I knew the system was broken (like most of our systems in the US), but I did not know to what extent.

Overall, what did you think of the module and interactivities this week? What were your favorite activities? What activities did you dislike or were unclear? Be specific!

Overall, this was a great module. It gave me a whole new perspective on a topic I am familiar with. I did not know about the class and race disparities in the system. I'm not surprised at all, but I had not thought about them before. Social workers, like teachers, are underappreciated and overworked. Children deserve a better system.

I really enjoyed the video in Interactivity 11.2. We got to experience all parts of the child welfare system. It was an informative video. The TEDTalk introduced me to a new concept, Blind Removal Meetings. I think this would be great to implement in all states. There were not any activities that I disliked.

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