NYC Family Policy Project’s mission is to bring together researchers, parents and youth with lived expertise and advocates, allies and disruptors working on the ground in impacted communities to develop research-driven transformative policy solutions to reduce the scope and harm of our current child welfare system and to improve conditions for families.
Founded in September 2021, FPP contributes to reversing NYC’s 40-year over-spending on child welfare and under-investment in communities, which has had devastating impacts on low-income families of color, particularly Black families, which are disproportionately investigated, monitored and separated. FPP offers credible, deeply researched and accessible policy briefs, original research and data analysis to support the work of activists, government, philanthropists and media.
FPP consists of the following program areas:
Information – Provide credible and accessible information that illuminates the impact of NYC’s child welfare system as well as concrete examples of solutions so that advocates, policymakers and elected officials have more tools for improving NYC family policy.
Research – Vision and develop research protocols that seek to identify and understand how to deliver the resources most needed by parents to secure their families’ health.
Policy analysis – Publish timely informational policy papers and analyses.
Place-based analysis and community policymaking – Child welfare in NYC is highly localized to a few communities, and some solutions need to be hyper-local and involve parents, youth and key community members with deep community ties.
Collaboration – FPP joins and develops forums with diverse stakeholders, centering those impacted, that function as critical spaces and containers for discussion, disagreement and imagining.
Central to our theory of change is that, with greater information about local child welfare impacts and the drivers of child welfare involvement, more organizations that don’t think of themselves as involved in reducing over-reliance on child welfare can get involved in making meaningful improvements to neighborhood life that reduce family stress and state intervention. Secondly, our guiding belief is that good policy decisions are made by diverse groups of informed people, particularly those whose lives will be most impacted by the policy, who collaborate to work through complexity and disagreements and hold real power to develop solutions. Our broader goal is to build a stronger culture of that kind of work around family policy in NYC.
Nora McCarthy, Director: Nora was the founder and director of Rise, a NYC parent advocacy organization, for 16 years. Nora also edited the citywide youth newspaper New Youth Connections (NYC) and a magazine by teens in foster care, Represent. She is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, writes the Upstream City column for The Imprint, and has written for publications including Newsday, Slate, The Appeal and Child Welfare Watch. Nora is on the Steering Committee of United Family Advocates and is a board member of the International Parent Advocacy Network.
Dr. Tricia Stephens, Senior Research Advisor: Tricia is an Assistant Professor at the Hunter College Silberman School of Social Work. She holds a PhD from New York University and specializes in the effects of historical and contemporary trauma on mental health functioning for people of the African Diaspora and on child welfare, particularly the intersection of parental trauma exposure and family stability. Tricia has practiced as a social worker in NYC for over 20 years, in child welfare and mental health settings. Tricia serves in an advisory capacity to several grassroots and community-based parent serving organizations in NYC and is a co-chair of the Narrowing the Front Door Work Group to reduce child welfare involvement in NYC.
Caterina Pisciotta, MSW, Pre-Doctoral Fellow: Caterina is a doctoral candidate in the Social Welfare program at the City University of New York and a pre-doctoral fellow at FPP. She has both direct practice and research/evaluation experience in the areas of child welfare and juvenile justice.
- Child Welfare Impacts Data: FPP is sharing new data on NYC child welfare impacts to make it easier for communities impacted by child welfare to vision, plan and advocate for their own solutions.
- “Upstream City” column in The Imprint – Since June 2022, Nora has been writing a monthly column in the Imprint that explores how NYC can shift away from reactive surveillance and intrusion in stressed families and toward direct investment in family health and networks of community care.
- Framework for Neighborhood and Family Health: FPP is developing an “ecological” accountability framework that situates child welfare impacts within the context of NYC’s family policies and neighborhood health conditions. We will examine local factors as well as those that may cut across neighborhoods: Is ACS primarily involved with extremely low-income families, such as those living at or under 50% of the poverty line? Is it highly impacting families in places that are physically isolated? Is it particularly involving first-time mothers? Narrowing the picture can point to specific policy changes, such as transportation or TANF/SNAP investments, to reduce family and community stressors. This framework and public data set can help local leaders and the family policing advocacy community hold city government as a whole accountable for addressing conditions that drive child welfare involvement and creating conditions for family flourishing. The first step in this analysis is our child welfare impacts data. We will be sharing our findings publicly through research updates, research resource lists, policy papers and accessible data sets.
- Community Advisory Board: A paid Community Advisory Board that centers impacted parents and youth will, once trained, serve as the gatekeeper of knowledge production and implementation, participating in all aspects of research, policy and practice recommendations. Advisory board members will be trained in research methods so that they can merge their lived expertise with strong research fundamentals. Please contact Nora to join: email@example.com
- Direct support by mandated reporters: FPP will examine organizations that have affirmative policies and practices for providing direct support to families in crisis and managing risk as primary response before utilizing mandated reporting. We seek to understand transferrable organizational factors (culture, attitudes, practices) that lend support to proactive family support instead of reactive mandated reporting.
- Family economic supports and child welfare involvement: Along with other organizations examining public benefits, FPP will explore how family child welfare involvement is impacted by economic policy.
- Community-led Participatory Action Research: FPP views the ecological accountability framework as a first step in reframing child welfare involvement and in making targeted adjustments to NYC’s family policy and investments in community planning to support family flourishing. In the coming years, our goal is to coordinate and support local efforts around family-centered neighborhood planning to enact approaches that support and sustain community and family health.
Forums and Roundtables
- FPP staff are involved with multiple groups acting at the city, national and international level, including the Narrowing the NYC Child Welfare System’s Front Door Work Group, Rise, United Family Advocates and the International Parent Advocacy Network. As the need arises, we will create forums for dialogue and connection.
- Informally we are connecting with researchers and think tanks exploring child welfare and aligned issues. If you would like to connect, email Nora: firstname.lastname@example.org