Margaret Prescod of Every Mother is a Working Mother Network and Women of Color in the Global Women’s Strike, speaking to the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party.
End poverty of mothers & children. Recognize caregiving work.
• Sign the petition to US Congress • 50+ current endorsers — Please add your organization today! Send this letter to your mailing lists and contacts.
For the first time in decades there is a piece of legislation and one we want reintroduced in the US Congress that recognize the work of mothers.
The RISE Out of Poverty Act (Gwen Moore, D-WI) would make ending child poverty the primary goal of TANF. The Women’s Option to Raise Kids (WORK) Act which needs to be reintroduced into Congress (was introduced in the last Congress by former Congressman Pete Stark, D- CA), recognized that raising children is vital work, and would give mothers the option of raising young children fulltime at home under current welfare legislation (TANF). The two bills together are a power for mothers everywhere, whether we are low income or not. They begin to finally value and provide resources for mothers and to undermine the growing poverty of women and children.
BY SARAH JAFFE
Carolyn Hill still remembers the night, two years ago, when the Philadelphia Department of Human Services (DHS) came to take her nieces away. The girls, ages 1 and 2, had been placed with her about a year earlier, after being removed from their mother’s custody due to her mental health issues. Hill thought she’d begun the process of adopting the girls: She’d taken parenting classes at the request of the agency and had begun paperwork so that she could go forward with adoption.
But on Tuesday April 3, 2012, Hill got a call from the Lutheran Children and Family Service (LCFS), a nonprofit that had taken over her case the previous fall (Philadelphia’s DHS farms out its caretaking services to a number of nonprofits). The caller said that she needed to speak with Hill that day. The social worker who had called Hill arrived at her home after 5pm and, without prior warning, took Hill’s nieces away. “She didn’t even let them finish eating—I had stopped to get them some food, but she just took them right on out,” Hill tells In These Times. (LCFS did not return a request for comment.) Continue reading
WHEN: December 9, 2014 at 1pm
WHAT: Carolyn Hill adoption hearing before Superior Court of PA
WHERE: Superior Court 530 Walnut St Philadelphia
CONTACT: Phoebe Jones, Every Mother is a Working Mother Network 215-848-1120 (on Dec 9: 610-505-4944) email@example.com www.everymothernetwork.org
Press release…..Press release…..Press release….
On December 9, a high profile adoption case comes before the PA Superior Court which will decide whether “the best interest of the child” is to return two girls to their loving but low-income aunt, or uphold an Adoption Court decision placing them with more distant but better off relatives.
This is the last chance for the return to Carolyn Hill of her two nieces who were abruptly and traumatically removed from her home by the Philadelphia Department of Human Services in 2012. Their excuses were false accusations and one truth: that she did not have a GED! After Ms Hill’s two-year campaign for justice, the Superior Court will determine whether this family will be reunited or whether those with slender means have less right to family life than those with higher incomes.
Local and national groups have weighed in on this important test case with an Amici Curiae Brief filed in support of Ms Hill’s petition for adoption. In addition to the Every Mother is a Working Mother Network, signers include University of Pennsylvania Law Professor Dorothy E. Roberts, the Child Welfare Organizing Project (CWOP), the National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW) and the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network (SPAN). Even after the Brief was filed others have asked to sign, including RISE Magazine and child welfare author and expert David Tobis.
The Brief raises critical issues at stake in the case:
- biases of the child welfare system against low-income Black families, and those with less formal education (Black children: 13% of the Pennsylvania population yet 49% of those taken into care)
- bogus, biased and non-independent parent capacity evaluations used in case after case to remove children
- absence of legal help for kinship caregivers who may never be informed of their rights, making it impossible for them to defend themselves against injustices
- devaluing one-on-one care and bonding, including with one’s extended family
- agency and institutional abuse of power with little or no disinterested oversight
- access to wealth and educational level as criteria for “best interest of the child,” so that those who have less of either are excluded from consideration as parents
- lack of court oversight and refusal to hear key witnesses.
“This decision cannot be allowed to stand, not only for the sake of these two girls who lost their loving aunt, extended family, church and neighborhood communities when DHS engaged in social engineering,” says Phoebe Jones of EMWM, “but for the sake of all children who are removed from homes where poverty, not abuse or neglect, is the ‘crime’. Philadelphia removes children at the highest rate in the country for a city of its size and 1/3 of children would be home tomorrow if decent housing was made available to their parents.
U Penn Law Professor and author of Shattered Bonds – The Color of Child Welfare Dorothy Roberts wrote: “The psych evaluation provides a surreptitious way of keeping custody of children because of poverty without saying it. …Child protective authorities could justify detaining children because of this psychological weakness instead of poverty itself.”
SPAN wrote, “We are particularly interested in the outcome of this litigation as this case has national implications for families at risk of losing their children due to poverty, discrimination, and the misinterpretation and misapplication of statutes and policy.”
About the case: Carolyn Hill is an aunt and a low-income Black single mother who was caring for her nieces at the urging of the Philadelphia Department of Human Services after her sister lost parental rights. All were doing well for a year when DHS abruptly and possibly illegally removed the children who had bonded with her and who she was in the process of adopting on grounds that, in addition to false accusations about cognitive skills and mental health issues, Ms Hill did not have a GED. The children, now four and five, were placed with the wife of a more distant relative at the request of the family as a temporary measure so the children would not have to be fostered with strangers until Ms Hill could regain custody. DHS supported in the adoption proceedings this ”temporary” couple, who have a higher income but who have separated the children from their family, church and community– all of whom fully support Ms Hill in her struggle to get them back.
Twelve witnesses took time off of work and other obligations to come to court on June 11, 2014 to testify on her behalf, including her children and other family members, friends, her pastor, neighbors, and others who know Ms Hill well. Yet the only one allowed to testify was the psychologist who conducted an independent parenting capacity evaluation. His evaluation dismissed the findings of a bogus and biased evaluation done by a psychologist contracted with DHS which had concluded that Ms Hill was not able to care for the children. If Ms Hill’s witnesses had been allowed to testify, false and misleading allegations against her character made in court could have been countered and the court given accurate information with which to make their decision.
Attorney Samuel Stretton, who agreed to take on Ms Hill’s case pro bono when he heard of the injustices she and the children faced, will argue in Superior Court that it is in the children’s best interest to be returned to the home of Ms Hill where they would grow up rooted in a loving and close-knit family and community sharing birthdays and holidays and special times together.
For more info about Carolyn Hill’s case, see The Right to Parent, Even if You Are Poor by Sarah Jaffe, In These Times, July 16, 2014.
Last chance for Carolyn Hill to adopt her two nieces, abruptly and traumatically removed from her home by the Dept of Human Services because she is a low-income Black woman with no GED.
Gather at 12:30pm; hearing starts at 1pm Superior Court, 530 Walnut St, Floor 17, Philadelphia, PA Join event on Facebook
WHAT ELSE YOU CAN DO
- Read the Amici Curiae brief and add your endorsement and supporting statement
- Forward the press release to your media contacts and on social media.
- Please consider a financial contribution to help with the substantial costs of this case. Carolyn Hill is fortunate to have a dedicated pro-bono lawyer, Sam Stretton, but there have been fees and expenses that urgently need to be covered, including a $1500 fee to cover an expert witness.
- Read more about Carolyn Hill’s case: The Right to Parent, Even if You Are Poor (by Sarah Jaffe, In These Times, July 16, 2014)
Stop the War on the Poor Southern California is part of a first annual international week of actions. (For actions in Washington, DC, Phila; Milwaukee, SF & in other countries: http://www.everymothernetwork.net)
WHAT: Community Gathering with Speak-Out, Community Resources for Low-Income People, Food, Children’s Activities.
Practical experiences of and campaigning against poverty, war, criminalization of survival, solitary confinement, prison/jail expansion, deportation, removal of children from their moms due to poverty, lack of resources that tear families apart, and the destruction of the planet. For a world that Invests in Caring for People and the Planet, Not Killing.
Information will be available on getting criminal records expunged; access to welfare, SNAP/food stamps, medical care, assistance with immigration questions; dealing with DCFS. The event is collaborating with the weekly food distribution by RAC-LA.
WHEN: Sunday, July 20th at 12:30pm till 3:30pm
WHERE: MacArthur Park, Wilshire Blvd./Park View, Los Angeles 90057
WHO: Southern California Planning Group:
Alexandria House; Bilal Ali (statewide coordinator, Homeless Bill of Rights Campaign, for ID purposes); California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement; DCFS Give Us Back Our Children; Every Mother is a Working Mother Network; Food Not Bombs; Feminists Working on Real Democracy (F*WORD, Santa Cruz); KidVillage@OccupyLA; Long Beach Area Peace Network; Martin Luther King Coalition of Greater LA; Military Families Speak Out; No More Jails LA; OccupyLongBeach; RAC-LA; Sin Barras, Santa Cruz; Women of Color/Global Women’s Strike & GWS/LA; Veterans for Peace LA
Stop the War on the Poor actions are demanding:
- Passage and implementation of the RISE Out of Poverty Act (H.R. 814, Rep Gwen Moore D-WI) that makes the elimination of child poverty central to welfare legislation and recognizes caregiving and education as work
- Passage and implementation of the Social Security caregivers Credit Act (H.R. 5024, Rep Nita Lowey D-NY), another step toward recognizing caregiving as work.
- Child welfare agencies stop removing children from families because of poverty, racism, sexism or other bias rather than abuse or neglect.
- A living wage for mothers and other caregivers – we are launching an international petition.
- Resources for the care of people and the planet, not war and occupation.
Join us in San Francisco for leafleting & speakout
Thursday July 17th, 11:00am
Welfare Office (SF Human Rights Services Agency),
170 Otis Street (near Duboce & Mission)
To commemorate Martin Luther King Jr’s 1968 Poor People’s Campaign (PPC), grassroots groups are taking actions in Washington DC and several US cities, Ireland and England the week of July 14 to Stop the War on the Poor. This is the first of what organizers plan as an annual action. They aim to expose – and change – that while one in two people in the US lives at or near poverty and the planet is on the brink, the US spends $682 billion on the military, nearly half the world’s total. Women and children are the majority of the poor. Women do 2/3 of the worlds work for 5% of the Income (ILO), yet the fundamental work of mothers and other primary caregivers is unvalued and unsupported.
In addition to a pots and pans rally outside the White House, campaigners will be meeting with religious organizations and members of Congress.
Demands include: passage and implementation of the RISE Out of Poverty Act (H.R. 814, Rep Gwen Moore, D-WI) that makes the elimination of child poverty central to welfare legislation; passage of the Social Security Caregiver Credit Act (H.R. 5024, Rep Nita Lowey, D-NY), another step in the direction of valuing caregiving; child welfare agencies to stop removing children from families because of poverty, racism, sexism; and a living wage for mothers and other caregivers.
“Just prior to his assassination, Martin Luther King Jr condemned the Vietnam War and called for the PPC culminating in a Poor People’s March in DC in June, demanding a living wage and a guaranteed income,” said Pat Gowens whose organization Welfare Warriors initiated the Stop the War on the Poor actions. Little has changed since King noted that Congress had shown ‘hostility to the poor’ by spending ‘military funds with alacrity and generosity’. We are asking the President and Congress to act.”
Coretta Scott King spoke out in support of impoverished mothers. She railed against welfare cuts which she said “forces mothers to leave their children and accept work or training, leaving their children to grow up in the streets” and urged others “to join welfare mothers and call upon Congress to establish a guaranteed annual income.”
Dr. King learnt from welfare mothers. They had been calling for a poor people’s campaign and urging his organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), to oppose “anti-welfare” legislation and support their right to welfare. Michael Eric Dyson
Pat Albright, a domestic worker and former welfare recipient with the Every Mother is a Working Mother Network says: “The history of MLK and Coretta Scott King’s support for impoverished mothers has been lost in the rush from both the right and left to condemn mothers on welfare, to press only for jobs outside the home and to deny that raising children and caring for those who are ill, disabled or older is the hard work that it is entitling mothers to welfare and other resources.”
“They cut my food stamps from $80 to $15 last month. Now I have to pay all my bills and buy food with just $300 left after paying rent. It is almost impossible to make it now. What can I do?” E.P., an elder with a disability.
“I am raising two kids on my own and only got $23 last month after welfare cut off my childcare so I couldn’t do the welfare work. Now I’m facing eviction and just don’t know what to do. They say I can’t get any more help because I met my time limits this month.” C.S, a young mom.
“Globally 1 in 3 people live on less than $2 a day, and in the US it is mainly women and children of color, Black, Latino/Hispanic and Native American who are the most impoverished,” “says Margaret Prescod of Women of Color in the Global Women’s Strike, one of the sponsoring groups. “Poverty is at the heart of it all”
Co-sponsors to date include: Alexandria House, LA; Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin; California Families Against Solitary Confinement; Dallas 6 Campaign, Pennsylvania; DHS/DCFS Give Us Back Our Children, Philadelphia and LA; Fight for Lifers West; F*WORD, Santa Cruz, CA; Human Rights Coalition-Fed Up, Pittsburgh; LA No More Jails; Martin Luther King Coalition of Greater LA; Military Families Speak Out – Orange County, CA; 9 to 5 Wisconsin; Parents Organizing For Welfare and Economic Rights (POWER), Olympia, WA; Payday Men’s Network; Queer Strike; RAC-LA; KidVillage@OccupyLA; Sin Barras, Santa Cruz, CA; Women and Trans Prisoner Defense Committee, Pittsburgh; USPROStitutes Collective; Veterans for Peace, LA Chapter; Voces de la Frontera, Milwaukee, WI
Join the SoCal Event!
Sunday, July 20th, 12:30-3:30pm MacArthur Park @ Wilshire & Parkview
Metro: Westlake/MacArthur Park
All Welcome! Children’s Activities, Food, Resource info for low income people including on benefits, food security, expungement of criminal records & more.
KPFK Pacifica radio 90.7FM is the media sponsor
Southern California Planning Group: Alexandria House; California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement; DCFS Give Us Back Our Children; Every Mother is a Working Mother Network; Food Not Bombs; F*WORD, Santa Cruz; (Homeless Bill of Rights Campaign – for ID purposes), Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP); KidVillage@OccupyLA; LA No More Jails; Long Beach Area Peace Network; Martin Luther King Coalition of Greater LA; Military Families Speak Out-OC; OccupyLongBeach; RAC-LA; Sin Barras, Santa Cruz; Women of Color/Global Women’s Strike & GWS/LA; Veterans for Peace Los Angeles.