Where Were the Social Workers? A Historical Overview of the Social Work Profession’s Complicity in the Family Policing System
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In recent years, segments of the social work profession have highlighted the ways that social workers are complicit with carceral systems, including the foster care system. Following the advocacy of impacted families and communities, social workers have increasingly called for re-examination of standard social work practices such as mandated reporting. This paper seeks to strengthen historical understanding of the social work profession’s complicity in the creation of the modern family policing system, commonly known as the child welfare system. In particular, this paper explores the impacts of the anti-communist movements on social work advocacy and practice during crucial periods of racial and economic reckoning, with an emphasis on the profession’s complicity with the 1960s-era criminalization of the Black family structure.
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