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"When the Welfare People Come"
Race and Class in the US Child Protection System
Analyzes the history of the U.S. child welfare system and its implications today, offering ideas for reform and building solidarity.

In this groundbreaking look at the history and politics of the US child welfare system, "When the Welfare People Come" exposes the system in its totality, from child protective investigation to foster care and mandated services, arguing that it constitutes a mechanism of control exerted over poor and working class parents and children. Applying the Marxist framework of social reproduction theory to the child welfare system, the author reveals the system's role in the regulation of family life under capitalism.

Don Lash is an attorney who has practiced in the areas of disability rights, education, and child welfare for more than twenty years.

Reviews

  • "This book’s description and analysis of child welfare is terrific. Though I’ve worked in the field of child welfare for four decades, I learned not only new information but also found new, resonant analyses. The book is best when describing the operations of the child welfare system in New York City and the nation both recently and historically. The book critiques the neo-conservative view that blames the individual and punishes the victims of societal racism and income inequality. It is equally harsh, perhaps more so, in its critique of neo-liberalism that also blames the individual and provides treatment as the remedy. The book is written from a neo-Marxist perspective. And since we’ve seen the failure of both neo-conservative and neo-liberal thinking, we would be well served to try a new paradigm presented in this book."
    —David Tobis, Ph.D, Author of From Pariahs to Partners: How Parents and Their Allies Changed New York City’s Child Welfare System; Senior Partner, Maestral International


    "Lash’s excellent overview of the child welfare system makes a compelling case for its role in the maintenance of capitalism as a social system. He illuminates the various ways that child welfare plays both a practical and ideological role through intervening in families that struggle with poverty and the ravages of racism, sexism, ableism, and other forms of inequality. Most importantly, he provides a discussion of how to create true change, not through incremental reform, but through a radical questioning of how inequality itself creates harm for children and families and how all families can be supported."
    —Tina Lee, University of Wisconsin-Stout, author of Catching a Case: Inequality and Fear in New York City's Child Welfare System?