Changing the Narrative of Child Welfare

14 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2012

See all articles by Matthew I. Fraidin

Matthew I. Fraidin

University of the District of Columbia

Date Written: 2012


In child welfare, the difference we can make as lawyers for parents, children, and the state, and as judges, is to prevent children from entering foster care unnecessarily. And we can end a child’s stay in foster care as quickly as possible. To do that, we have to fight against a powerful narrative of child welfare and against the accepted “top-down” paradigm of legal services.

In this essay, Professor Fraidin suggests that we can achieve our goals of limiting entries to foster care and speeding exits from it by looking for the strengths of the people involved in our cases, rather than their weaknesses. We can look for what they can do, rather than what they can’t. We can focus on their abilities, not the shortcomings over which we often obsess — like drug addiction, impatience, illiteracy, poverty. We can start from a premise that families involved with child welfare are bundles of assets, rather than collections of problems. If we can do all this, we can help families build, rather than watch them fall.

Keywords: child welfare, foster care, poverty law, family law

JEL Classification: K00, K10, K30, I30, I38

Suggested Citation

Fraidin, Matthew I., Changing the Narrative of Child Welfare (2012). Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law Policy, Vol. 19, pp. 97-109, Winter 2012, Georgetown Public Law Research Paper No. 12-011, Available at SSRN:

Matthew I. Fraidin (Contact Author)

University of the District of Columbia ( email )

4200 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20008
United States

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