Family injustice in Child Protective Services (CPS) is not only related, but in many ways inextricable, to injustice in the Family Court and Child Support Systems.
It is at the intersection of parenting and poverty that systems of family policing inflict the most devastating harm. We must ask ourselves why there are policies and practices in existence whose negative consequences disproportionately impact poor communities of color?
It is because Child Protection and Child Support systems were intentionally created as an attack on poverty, class, and race. The US Child Support System was explicitly created in response to public demand to reduce the amount of poor families receiving public aid benefits. The CPS system evolved out of the 19th century “Child Savers” movement, which sought to alleviate the suffering and poverty of poor children by placing them with wealthy families. A direct result of this so-called child-saving was a reduced need to provide aid to needy families with children.
These systems of family policing continue to oppress, criminalize, exploit, and marginalize poor communities of color today. The classist, racist roots of child protection and child support are still blatantly evident in the federally delineated California statutes that govern child removals and means-tested child support systems that, by design, separate families into brutal categories of “deserving” and “undeserving.”
This has gone on too long. It is time to unite and force a shift in priorities to better serve families.
An impacted family member protests CPS and Child Support Services. Photo by Momii Palapaz, 2022