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Child protective services (CPS) agencies subject a wide scope of families to investigation, and the vast majority do not lead to family separations or family court cases. A 2017 study, for instance, showing that 37% of all children and 53% of Black children are the subject of CPS investigations in their childhoods, has now been cited hundreds of times. Kelley Fong’s new book, Investigating Families, is based on the months she spent embedded with CPS investigators responding to allegations that parents abused or (more often) neglected their children, and the interviews she conducted with both investigators and the parents who were investigated over the course of multiple years (Methodological Appendix, Pp. 213-40). Fong, a sociologist, found staff with largely good intentions thrust into an adversarial posture with families by a system that is astonishingly broad, harms the families it nominally seeks to help, and intertwines social services with social control of poor families.


Family Law | Law

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Investigating Families: Motherhood in the Shadow of Child Protective Services by Kelley Fong, Princeton University Press, 2023.

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