An Unavoidable System: The Harms of Family Policing and Parents’ Vision for Investing in Community Care


On September 29, 2021, TakeRoot and Rise released An Unavoidable System: The Harms of Family Policing and Parents’ Vision for Investing in Community Care.

The report was co-authored by parent leaders at Rise with the support of TakeRoot and is the result of a participatory action research project led by people who have been directly impacted by the family policing system. The report documents the trauma experienced by families subjected to the child welfare system in New York City, and the failure of that system to help families. Our research shows that the system which claims to protect children and help families is in fact harming them. The report also elevates a vision for change crafted by impacted parents: dismantling the current system and replacing it with community-centered structures of care.

The report draws on data from 10 focus groups with people impacted by the family policing system, as well as surveys from 58 impacted parents. Our research shows that the system causes trauma and harm for families while failing to help them, and that parents have a cohesive vision for change.  Key findings include that ACS is an unavoidable system in Black and brown communities, that ACS intervention inflicts lasting and layered trauma, and that ACS involvement damages the relationships which parents, and families, need to thrive.

Parents leaders envision new approaches to care, including community care networks, well-resourced communities and financial investment in families, non-judgmental and compassionate care, and care from people with similar experiences and backgrounds.

Rise calls for abolition of the system and deep investment to support safe and flourishing families and communities. The report’s recommendations lay out specific concrete legal, policy and budgetary changes to shift away from reliance on ACS and strengthen family support in communities. They include reducing reports to the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment by shrinking the pipelines that funnel families into the system and divesting from ACS and investing in communities, by shifting funding away from ACS and into new community-led approaches to family and community safety and wellness.

Read the full report here.