2023 NJTFCAN Biennial Conference: Race, Poverty, Neglect in Child Welfare

Thursday, October 19, 2023
9:30 AM - 3:30 PM


A recent article released from the National Conference of State Legislatures noted that in 2020, more than 480,000 children came to the attention of child welfare systems throughout the country as a result of neglect. 

Two out of every three children entering foster care that same year were separated from their family with neglect being a primary or contributing factor in the decision to move to out-of-home placement.

Historically in child welfare circles, all too often, allegations of “neglect” are a coded way of saying that a family is dealing with the effects of poverty.  The issue isn’t that a parent is withholding some physical or emotional need from their child, but that the family has an unmet material need resulting from having little to no income.

Additionally, we know that a major contributing factor in the nation’s poverty epidemic is systemic and, institutional racism.  Black families are denied opportunities that are freely available to white families, through red-lining, disinvestment in public education in urban communities, over-policing and so much more.

As a result, families are often caught in a vicious cycle.  Families of color face systemic barriers to economic sufficiency, they get reported to child welfare for “neglect,” and they face the trauma and stigma associated with child welfare involvement.  Black families are disproportionately represented in child welfare throughout the country, and our system is structured such that they experience higher rates of family separation, with unrealistic expectations around reunification.

This intersection – of race, poverty, and neglect in child protective services in the U.S. – has to be explored and examined, in order to achieve social justice, and to ensure that the child welfare system doesn’t continue to be a tool for further systemic oppression.  The intention of child welfare is to uplift the child, youth, and the entire family.  In New Jersey, we’re looking for ways to do that, in a healing-centered, trauma-informed way.

Join us for a conversation about race, poverty, and neglect as it pertains to the child welfare system, in New Jersey and throughout the country.  We’ll hear from national experts as well as leaders on the ground in our home state, hoping to achieve a fairer, more equitable system for all families.

Register today to be a part of an important dialogue as we imagine a better way forward for child welfare in New Jersey.

Community Services

Last Updated: 09/18/23