The Growing Economic Divide An Interactive Presentation/Discussion on Growing Economic Inequality, Class, and Child Welfare Thanks • Many of the charts were developed by United for a Fair Economy, www.faireconomy.org • Marguerite Marges, for her paper “The Neglect of Child Neglect” • Dee Wilson, for his some slides from “Substance Abuse and Chronic Neglect” and “Substance Abuse and Reunification: A Child Welfare Dilemma” • Paul Gorski, EdChange Facilitator Bio: Felice Yeskel is the Director of Class Action, a national, non-profit organization that inspires action to end classism by raising awareness, facilitating cross-class dialogue, supporting cross-class alliances, and working with others to promote economic justice. Felice is a Founder and was the Co-Director of United for a Fair Economy for over six years. She comes from a working-class Jewish family from New York City’s lower east side. She is on the faculty of the Social Justice Education Program, at UMass, Amherst where she founded and directed The Stonewall Center: A LBGT Resource Center for over 20 years. She also co-directed DiversityWorks, Inc. an organization of social justice educators training and consulting on issues of diversity and multiculturalism. Felice has led hundreds of workshops and given talks across the country about economic inequality and about healing divisions among people of different class backgrounds, races, genders, and sexual orientations. Felice received her doctorate in Organizational Development in 1991. She is recently edited a special issue of the journal Equity and Excellence in Education on Class and Education; it came out in March of 2008. Felice is the co-author of Economic Apartheid in America, published by The New Press in the fall of 2000; a second edition came out in the Fall of 2005. Felice has also written chapters in the following books, Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice, The Narrow Bridge: Jewish Perspectives on Multiculturalism, Money Talks: So Can We, and Coming Out of the Class Closet. Articles by Felice have appeared in “The Diversity Factor,” “The Women’s Review of Books,” “Sojourner,” "The Holistic Education Review” “Journal of Women & Religion,” “Sh'ma: A Journal of Jewish Responsibility,” and “Bridges: A Journal for Jewish Feminists and Our Friends.” Felice has frequently appeared as a guest on radio shows across the country discussing issues of class, economic justice and social change. [email protected] The Context of Our Work • Social and economic inequalities have risen steeply over the past 30 years. • Children and their families have been particularly disadvantaged by this creeping impoverishment, which is associated with negative effects on parenting capacity and developmental outcomes for children. • The social capital of communities, which consists of the cultural resources and inter-personal relationships between members, is also eroded by inequality and social exclusion. • Children's welfare and family functioning are crucially dependent upon the social support available within local communities. • Helping to build economic and social capital in poor communities may be a more effective way of promoting children's welfare than formal child protection and family support services. • What’s child welfare? Individual Problem or Systemic Problem? • Delving into case files is an effective way to examine the issues that caseworkers confront every day. But focusing on individual cases also obscures systemic issues that profoundly affect child welfare decision-making. • Does the child welfare system sometimes: – Separate children from caring parents instead of providing services that would address the family's problems? – Concentrate more on finding fault with parents than on meeting children's needs, relying on questionable therapies rather than concrete solutions? • Why are so many of the families working-class or poor? •Social factors and political decisions often determine which families get caught in child protective services and what happens to them once they become involved. Above the Water Line Reason for Success Reason for Failure The Individual History Legacy Social Policies Discrimination What happened in Child Welfare The profile of child welfare families and of children entering the foster care system changed dramatically in the 1980s: Neglect, substance abuse, high rates of infant placements and placements of pre-school children, long length of stay in out-of-home care, reduced rates of reunification, and high rates of re-entry into care resulted in large increases in states’ foster care population. This constellation of factors was the child welfare context which led to the passage of the 1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act (AFSA), the most important new child welfare law since 1980. AFSA set strict timelines for public child welfare agencies to work with birth parents who have had children removed from their custody: Once a child has been in out-of-home care 15 out of 22 months and cannot safely be returned to parents, the child welfare agency is required to file for termination of parent rights, absent compelling reasons to do otherwise. AFSA also clearly states that child safety is the pre-eminent child welfare goal, so that decision makers will have an explicit guideline if faced with a choice between child safety and supporting and strengthening families AFSA also established fiscal incentives for public child welfare systems to increase adoptions; and, nationally adoptions have increased from about 20,000 children per year to more than 50,000 children per year. Poverty/Wealth-Classism means we all lose •Long term poverty is associated with neighborhood concentrations of poverty, family structure, educational outcomes, parents’ work histories and change in labor market conditions •However, even when these conditions are controlled for there is a 2-1 difference in lifetime earnings between children growing up in middle class families vs. poor families. (Corcoran & Chaudry, 1997) •According to federal statistics, black children in the child welfare system are placed in foster care at twice the rate for white children. A national study of child protective services by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that "minority children, and in particular African American children, are more likely to be in foster care placement than receive in-home services, even when they have the same problems and characteristics as white children" •The costs of classism to children with class privilege may be the under-reporting of child welfare cases • • • 1. The Base Shift: Equality → Equity a. Is every child/family treated the same, and have the opportunity to receive the best possible care and treatment, regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, religion, first language, sexual orientation, (dis)ability, or any other dimension of difference? b. As long as the answer to these questions remains “no,” am I, and is the system, willing to be transformed? • • • 2. Cultural Competence → Equity and Social Justice a. Is the focus on feeling good and celebrating difference or on institutional change? b. Am I willing to push myself and the system out of our comfort zone to honestly and continually assess and address inequities including racism, sexism, heterosexism (homophobia), classism, and ageism? • • 3. Difference as the Problem → Inequity as the Problem a. Do I, or does my institution, tend to problematize difference and its complexities, such as language diversity, instead of problematizing the history and present of inequities that have led us to a point of remaining unprepared to effectively and efficiently navigate these differences? b. Am I, or is the institution, willing to tackle inequities—even those that assign privilege to me and the majority of those in power in the system? • • • • 4. Expectation Client Will Adapt → Responsibility Ours to Be Transformed a. Do I, or does the institution, believe that it is the responsibility of the patient or client to adapt to the mainstream culture? b. Am I, or is the institution, willing to change to the same extent that people outside the mainstream culture are forced to change just to navigate our services? Thanks to Paul Gorski, EdChange Resources about Class Adams, Rebecca, Brewer, Rose, Leondar-Wright, Betsy, Lui, Meizhu and Robles, Barbara with United for a Fair Economy, The Color of Wealth: How Government Actions Widen the Racial Wealth Divide, The New Press, 2006. Aldrich, Nelson W. Jr. Old Money, The Mythology of America's Upper Class. Alfred A. Knopf, 1988 Apple, M., Van Galen, J. and Noblit, G., Late to Class: Social Class and Schooling in the New Econ omy, SUNY Press, 2007 Bageant, Joe, Deer Hunting with Jesus, Crown, 2007. Blouin, Barbara with Gibso n Katherine, and Kierste d, Margaret. The Legacy of Inherited Wealth: Interviews with heirs. Trio Press, 1995. Blouin, Barbara. Like a Second Mother: Nannies and housekeep ers in the lives of wealthy children. The Inheritance Pr oject/Trio Press, 1999. Brooks, David. Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There. Touchstone Book s, 2001. Collins, Chuck and Yeskel, Felice, Economic Apartheid in America: A Primer on Economic Inequality and Insecurity, The New Press, NY, 2005 Demott, Benjamin, The Imperial Middle: Why Americans Can 't Think Straight About Class, William Morrow & Co, New York, 1990. Domhoff, Wi lliam, Who Rules America: Power and Politics in the Year 2000. Mt. View, CA: Mayfield Pub. 1998). Ehrenreich, Barbara, Fear of Falling: The Inner Life of the Middle Class. Harper, 1990. Ehrenreich, Barbara, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, Holt, 2002. hooks, bell. Where We Stan d: Class Ma tters. Routledge (2000) Frank, Robert, Richistan: A Journey Through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich, Crown, 2007 Frank, Robert. 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"What Is Social Class?" in The Meaning of Difference: American Construction of Race, Sex and Gender, Social Class, and Sexual Orientation, Rosenblum, Karen &Travis, Toni-Michelle (eds.) pp 97-103.,McGraw-Hill Companie s, Inc. Mantsios, Gregory. "Class in America: Myths & Realities" in Rereading America: Cultural Contexts for Critical Thinking & Writing, 2nd ed. Colombo, Gary; Cullen, Robert & Lisle, Bonnie (eds.) New York: Bedford Books, 1992. Marable, Manning. How Capitali sm Underd eveloped Bla ck America, 2nd Ed. South End Press, 2000. Marger, Martin, Social Inequal ity: Patterns and Processes, 4th Edition, McGraw Hill, NY, 2008 Oakes, Jennie, Keeping Track: How Schools Structure Inequal ity, New Hav en: Yale University Press, 2005 O’Neill, Jessie H. The Golden Ghetto: The psycholog y of affluence. Hazelden Press, MN. 1997 Phillips, Kevin, Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich. Broadway Books, 2008 Pittelman, Karen and Resource Generation with illustratio ns by Molly Hein, Classified: How to Stop Hiding Your Privilege and Use It For Social Change, Soft Skull Press, NY, NY 2005 Pizzigati, Sam, Greed and Good: Understanding and Overcoming the Ine quality That Limits Our Lives, Apex Press, 2004. Rose, Fred, Coalition s across the Class Divide. Cornell Univ ersity, 2000. Rubin, Lillian B. World s of Pain: Life in the Working-class Family. New York: Basic Books, 1992. Ry an, William, Equality, Vintage Books, New York, 1982. Sachs, Peter, Tearin g Down the Gates: Confronting the Class Divide in American Educ ation, UC Press, 2007. Sennett, Richard & Jonathan Cobb, The Hidden Injuries of Class. New York: New York: WW Norton, 1993. Scherv ish, Paul G., Gospels of Wealth: How the rich portray their lives. Praeger . Westport CN, 1994. Shapiro, Thomas, The Hidden Cost of Being African American: How Wealth Perpetu ates Inequality, Oxford 2004 Stout, Linda, Bridgin g the Class Divide and other Lessons for Grassroots Organizing , Beacon, 1996. Tea, Michelle, Without a Net: The Female Experience of Growing Up Working Class, Seal Press, 2004. Terkel , Studs, Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do. NY: New Press, 1997 Terkel , Studs, Working, NY: Random House, 1974 Wray, Matt & Newitz, Annalee, White Trash: Race and Class in America, Routledg e, 1997 . Zinn, Howard, "Economic Justice: The American Class System", in Declarations of Independe nce, HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 1991. Zweig, Michael, What's Class Got to Do With It?: American Society in the 21st Century, ILR Press, 2004 Zweig, Michael, The Working Class Majority, Cornell Univ ersity, 2000.