From Pariahs to Partners

From Pariahs to Partners : How parents and their allies changed New York City's child welfare system

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At the end of the 20th century, New York City had one of the worst child welfare systems in the United States. Often families' difficulties festered without help from the city until the situation exploded in the mid-90s. The city's response was to place children in foster care, and by the early 1990s there were 50,000 children in care, more than at any other time in the city's history. Beginning in the mid-1990s, for the first time in the history of the United States, a movement developed of parents who have been embroiled in the child welfare system. Their efforts, working with their allies, brought about unprecedented improvements that have resulted in more benefits to children and families, systemic changes that appear to be lasting. By 2011, fewer than 15,000 children were in New York City's foster care system. The parents whose stories are traced in this book were victims of domestic violence, homelessness and poverty. Some became dependent on drugs. They all had the crushing, enraging and at times transforming experience of having their children taken from them and put into foster care by child protective services. Many of these parents entered drug treatment programs, got intensive counseling, left abusive relationships, got jobs, filed lawsuits and were reunited with their children. Some took the next step and were trained as parent organizers. They learned how to fight effectively against bad child welfare policies that leave families victimized by a system that is supposed to help them. This book focuses on the lives of six mothers who have come back "from the other side, " and their allies-child welfare commissioners, social workers, lawyers and foundation officers who used their resources to help parents and advocates, and recounts how their courage and resilience was harnessed to bring about the most significant changes in the history of New York's child welfare system.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 288 pages
  • 158 x 238 x 24mm | 539.99g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195099885
  • 9780195099881
  • 633,545

About David Tobis

David Tobis is the Executive Director of the Fund for Social Change. For more than three decades he has worked to reform child welfare in New York and the United States. Beginning in 1991 he worked as a consultant to UNICEF and the World Bank to prevent children, the disabled and the elderly from being placed in long-term residential institutions in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. His monograph, published by the World Bank, The Transition from Residential Institutions to Community-Based Services in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union became the basis for the World Bank's strategy in the area. More recently he has worked with UNICEF and various foundations to strengthen child protection systems in countries throughout the world. He was previously Director of Human Services for New York City Council President Carol Bellamy. He was a Fulbright scholar to Guatemala and a Revson Fellow at Columbia University.show more

Review quote

Recommended. * D. Stoesz, CHOICE * The system of parent advocacy described by David Tobis in this book will give immense encouragement and support to both child welfare professionals and non-professionals around the world who believe that too many children and young people are unnecessarily removed into State Care and too often are unnecessarily detained in State Care. The system brings realisable benefits to the children and young people, their parents, child welfare professionals who work tirelessly to support families, often with little success, and to the taxpayers and politicians who fund the child welfare systems. * Journal of Children Australia *show more

Table of contents

Preface ; Introduction ; Chapter 1: The New York ; Chapter 2: Parents ; Chapter 3: Tilling the Soil: The Groundwork for Parent Activism ; Chapter 4: Parents Find Their Voice ; Chapter 5: Other New York City Parent Organizations ; Chapter 6: Parent Participation Across the Country ; Chapter 7: What Improved, What Hasn't and What's Beginning to Slip ; Chapter 8: Conclusions ; Epilogue ; Annex I: Vision and Strategy for the Future ; Abbreviationsshow more

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