Policy & Practice | April 2022

from the eld By Jennifer Maurici

Narrowing the Front Door: Using Economic and Concrete Supports to Create a Just and Equitable Child and Family Well-Being System

L ong-standing systemic inequi- ties, coupled with implicit bias and pejorative stereotypes, have been disproportionately impacting Black children and their families for decades. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is one example of a policy whose genesis was seeped in anti-Black racism and sexism. 1 Since its creation in 1996, not only has financial assistance to families with low-incomes declined immensely 2 but Black children are more likely than White children to live in states where benefits are the lowest. 3 When we examine the disproportionate overrep- resentation of Black children and their families in the child welfare system, the intersection of race and poverty is salient. Childhood poverty dispro- portionately impacts children of color 4 and children living in poverty are more likely to come to the attention of child protective services. 5 The New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) is committed to creating a just and equitable child and family well-being system by redressing the punitive policies that have falsely equated low-risk poverty-related matters to abuse and neglect, perpetuating struc- tural racism, and plunging families of color deeper into poverty and, as a result, the child welfare system. Through partnerships with a variety of stakeholders—including local departments of social services, not- for-profit providers, community-based organizations, and our sister state

that have been accepted by the New York State Central Register for Child Abuse and Maltreatment where there is no safety concern that rises to the level of immediate or impending danger. The FAR approach focuses on both child safety and family engagement. Community partners and stake- holders are also invited to learn about and support the use of a differential

agencies—three strategies, high- lighted below, are centered upon the belief that providing economic and concrete supports to families in need will improve their overall well-being by providing the resources needed to help parents and caregivers keep their children safely at home. The Family Assessment Response (FAR) is New York State’s differential response program. FAR may be used for child protective services reports

See Front Door on page 26

Illustration by Chris Campbell


April 2022 Policy&Practice

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