FPP Co-Founder Nora McCarthy writes a monthly column in The Imprint, Upstream City, that examines how New York City can target community conditions and invest in family health to reduce child welfare involvement. This series seeks to offer concrete information and a spirit of exploration so that families impacted, advocates, community groups and policymakers nationwide have even more tools to build their own vision for transformative change.
“This series will explore the complexities of what an upstream approach might look like in New York City. Without question, tens of thousands of families each year are experiencing a terrifying investigation when, at most, they need access to basic resources and caring support. Just as intentional planning sharply reduced family separations in the city over the past 20 years, visionary leadership and partnership can shift our city away from surveillance and intrusion in stressed families and toward a new blueprint for direct investment in family health and networks of community care.”
Column #2: Policies that Scaffold Family Life
“Right now, families facing economic shocks end up coping with the stress of child welfare involvement as well. Economic policies that blunt the impact of financial setbacks can be less costly and more protective of families. This is a choice we can afford. In New York City, a lot of money is going toward punishing poverty that could be spent addressing it.”
“Going ‘upstream’ to target conditions instead of individual families is about sifting deeper to understand how neighborhood conditions impact families and addressing the conditions that raise the risk of child welfare involvement. Neighborhoods exert their own influence. That’s visible in New York City, where the 15 neighborhoods that drive child welfare involvement have remained largely the same for two decades.”