• December 2020
  • Vol. 21, No. 9

Relentless for Families

This edition of CBX focuses on the need to be relentless in the pursuit of a dramatically different vision for child welfare in the United States. It features articles from some of the most relentless voices in the field. At times, some of the contributors to this edition have found themselves in direct opposition to one another. This is not one of those times. There is unprecedented unity among individuals with lived expertise, advocates, child welfare administrators, public health officials, attorneys for children, parents, judges, researchers, professional membership organizations, and others who care for and about children, youth, and families that we must push to achieve a true child and family well-being system. There is growing insistence that we must do all we can to support families and reduce the need for contact with formal child protective services. There is a growing consensus that we must do all we can to avoid unnecessary family separation. The voices included in this addition have been fierce advocates for justice, new approaches, and accountability. They are individuals who hold strong to principles even when it is not popular to do so. Some have started movements. Others will be our future leaders. It is relentless individuals like those contributing to this edition that have helped bring us to the critical juncture we face as a field. They, and scores of others, will be needed to keep us moving forward boldly—so we become a vastly more just, equitable, and human system that prioritizes family integrity, family support, and healing.

  • Standing in the Breach
    Written by Jerry Milner and David KellyTransforming a large, blunt, and reactive child welfare system that far too often causes trauma into one that proactively works to strengthen and support...
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  • In Pursuit of Growing and Healing: Changing Child Welfare
    Written by Shrounda Selivanoff, director of public policy, Children's Home Society of Washington, parent ally, and kinship caregiver"Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot...
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  • To Truly Be Relentless, We Must…
    Written by Nico'Lee Biddle, L.C.S.W., policy analyst at the Center for the Study of Social Policy, member of the Board of Directors for FosterClub, and expert with lived experience Over the...
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  • To Be Relentless for Children, We Must Be Relentless for Families
    Written by Richard Wexler, executive director, National Coalition for Child Protection Reform Crystal Baker-Burr, now an attorney for The Bronx Defenders, has represented children and parents...
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  • Genuine Family Engagement: The Key to Doing Whatever It Takes
    Written by Paul Vincent, M.S.W., independent consultant, retired from The Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group I worked in this field first as a child welfare caseworker and then as...
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  • Child Welfare Needs a Radical Course Correction
    Written by Martin Guggenheim, Fiorello LaGuardia professor of clinical law and co-director, Family Defense Clinic, New York University School of LawNo wealthy country in the world treats children...
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  • Relentlessly Protect Relationships
    Written by Vivek S. Sankaran, clinical professor of law, University of Michigan Law School At the close of the termination of parental rights trial, the judge remarked, "I do believe that this...
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  • They Will Come for You; Be Relentless Anyway
    Written by Chuck Price, owner, Price and Associates Consulting, Wisconsin Rapids, WIReal change—the shift toward prevention within child welfare practice—is under way. The vision and...
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  • Is Money the Only Thing Preventing Us From Being Relentless for Families? We Don’t Think So
    Written by Jeremy Christopher Kohomban, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer, The Children's VillageTo be relentless for families means we should be completely focused on giving to all...
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  • What Relentlessness Looks Like in the Nation’s Capital
    Written by Brenda Donald, director, District of Columbia Child and Family Services Agency The District of Columbia (DC) Family First Five-Year Prevention Plan is titled "Putting Families First...
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  • Stronger Communities, Safer Families, Zero Fatalities
    Written by Amy Harfeld, National Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths, Children's Advocacy InstituteIn 2016, the Federal Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities (CECANF)...
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  • Does Every Child Matter? If Not Now, When?
    Written by Judge William Thorne, retired state and tribal court judge and Pomo/Coast Miwok tribal member If every child mattered—if every family mattered—why does our system fail so many? Why...
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  • Building a New, User-Centered Child Welfare System
    Written by Lexie Grüber, child welfare advocate Our nation is in the midst of a pandemic, an economic emergency, and a heightened focus on addressing racial injustice. These urgent challenges...
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  • Fearless Lawyers Lift Up the Child's Voice
    Written by Angela Vigil, pro bono partner and executive director of pro bono practice, Baker & McKenzie, LLP, Miami, FLAn accusation of abuse, neglect, or abandonment. A confirmation that a...
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  • Supporting Families Gives Children Their Best Chance
    Written by Sandy Santana, executive director, Children's RightsAs 2020 draws to a close, our nation's children—despite strides made over the last year to keep them safe—are still being harmed in...
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  • Being Relentless for Families
    Written by the Honorable Ernestine S. Gray, Orleans Parish Juvenile Court, New Orleans, LA In trying to think about what I might say about this topic, I first decided that I needed to ensure...
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  • The Great Commitment
    Written by David Samuel Hall, teacherGenerational poverty, overt and structural racism, sexism, and being "tough on crime;" initiatives disproportionately affecting people of color; and...
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  • Kindness
    Written by Jerry Milner This article was originally published the November 17, 2020, edition of Rethinking Foster Care. I used to say that I grew up in Nowhere, Alabama.  Nowhere was an...
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