Philadelphia City Council Special Committee on Child Separations recognises poverty is not neglect!

The fantastic recommendations of this report are a big victory for the international mothers’ movement against unjust and arbitrary separations, and we must use it here to stop children being taken because of poverty. Philadelphia group Give Us Back Our Children is part of Support Not Separation’s international network and can be contacted at:  215-848-1120  p o box 11795 phila pa 18101

Statement from Give Us Back Our Children/Phila on the April 2022 Recommendations of the Philadelphia City Council Special Committee on Child Separations

A victory and a vindication”   “A long time coming”   “If these recommendations had been in place when I was dealing with DHS, my nieces would still be with me now.” 
That is some of what mothers, grandmothers and others who have been challenging unjust child removals and working to change child welfare policies and practices had to say about the groundbreaking Report and Recommendations from the Philadelphia City Council Special Committee on Child Separations. As Richard Wexler, member of the Special Committee, said: “I want to thank most the families. The movement to change this system has been building for nearly two decades, starting with the work of Give Us Back Our Children.” 

For those of us whose poverty has been conlated with neglect, a key recommendation is: Neglect should be removed from the state law defining child abuse and should no longer be subject to CPS investigations.

And further: Any family condition that can be remedied through the provision of concrete help, including but not limited to, direct cash assistance, food, clothing, housing assistance and/or childcare, shall not constitute neglect and shall not be cause for a CPS or GPS investigation. 

Poverty, along with racism and sexism, is the main driver of removals, and cash in the hands of mothers and caregivers is the main remedy against removals and the main way to drive down the rate of needless removal.  We welcome the call for direct cash assistance which gives mothers the power to refuse intervention and surveillance.

Other key recommendations from the Report:

abolition of mandatory reporting 
● no removal of children from domestic violence victims
● opening the courts and Miranda rights for families
● no removal at birth because of past history with DHS or positive drug test
● the right to high-quality legal representation
● requiring lawyers for children to fight for the “expressed wishes of the child” rather than the lawyers’ view of “best interests of the child”.

We also call for the elimination of financial incentives to remove children and recognition of the “child welfare industrial complex” including that of the pharmaceutical industry and the excessive drugging of foster children.  The critical bond between mother and child must be protected, including the right to breastfeed/be breastfed.  Mothers and children with disabilities must supported. Incarcerated mothers should not be in prison and separated from their children and fast track adoption must cease. DHS and child welfare agencies must stop taking children’s SSI payments and tax credits upon which families depend for their survival. Mothers’ names must be removed from child protection registries.  And psych evaluations must be independent.

We call for: the expanded Child Tax Credit to be permanent and paid to mothers; tax credits for family caregivers (such as in the Worker Relief and Credit Reform Act which redefines work to include caregiving); guaranteed income payments; and increased TANF payments. All of these without work requirements.  Caregiving is valued at $1.5 trillion a year to the US economy and yet we are treated like beggars at the gate and undeserving of our children. As Rev Liz Theoharris of the Poor People’s Campaign –  A National Call for Moral Revival says,

Take away our poverty, not our children!

Give Us Back Our Children/Philadelphia is part of national Give Us Back Our Children and international Support Not Separation networks.  215-848-1120