A thought-provoking article in the Regulatory Review argues that the US’s child welfare state should be abolished, and replaced with a system that does not police, or discriminate against families.

The opinion piece has been written by Robyn M. Powell, a visiting assistant professor at Stetson University College of Law.

Powell argues that it is not enough to reform a system within its existing framework, and that in order to bring about meaningful change, the system’s laws and policies must be reviewed, removed where necessary and replaced with better laws which do not enable discrimination or injustice.

In the article she quotes a pioneering legal expert, professor Dorothy Roberts, who said that the United States must “finally abolish what we now call child protection and replace it with a system that really promotes children’s welfare.”

Powell also makes the following observations in her piece, which focuses on children and parents with disabilities and their representation inside social care:

“Each year, the child welfare system traumatizes and separates millions of marginalized families, including parents with disabilities and their children. Indeed, in 2019, the child welfare system investigated more than 3 million families and separated approximately 430,000 children from their parents.

Notably, two-thirds of the cases in which children were separated from their parents involved allegations of neglect, not abuse, which is often conflated with poverty. Thus, most of these families could have been spared child welfare system involvement if they had access to adequate supports and resources.

The disproportionate rate of child welfare system involvement in families headed by parents with disabilities is striking. Although children of parents with disabilities comprise only 9 percent of the nation’s youth, they make up 19 percent of the children in foster care.”

The piece introduces Powell’s research paper, “Achieving Justice for Disabled Parents and Their Children: An Abolitionist Approach,” which offers an in-depth argument as to why the child welfare state as it is should be abolished. The research is going to be featured in the Yale Journal of Law & Feminism.

Powell’s 93 page paper is free and available to read.

As the UK’s child protection sector faces strikingly similar problems to the US’s own system, we thought this paper was important to share.

You can read Powell’s piece here.

Access Powell’s research paper here.