Forced separation of families and children by Family Courts and Child Protection Agencies is a tool of oppression and perpetuates injustice and harm upon marginalized communities. Communities of color, the poor, the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated, survivors of rape and sexual abuse, those without homes, those without support networks, parents with disabled children- are all vulnerable. Foster care is punishment. Foster care is cruel and unusual torture. Foster care is prison. End the incarceration of families. Rise up. Take back our children.
We are powerhouse movement builders that mobilize system-impacted families to fight for systemic change and implement policy reform. We seek to develop and uplift the leadership of the communities we serve, to advocate for the preservation of families, the restoration of parental rights, and also to increase access to justice and parent-child visitation for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated families.
ASFA, enacted in 1997, shifted the focus of the American child welfare system from family preservation to permanence, creating perverse incentives for states to remove children from their homes and adopt them out. For mothers and young mothers, the termination of parental rights is perpetual punishment. This perpetual punishment is even more profound after release from prison, mothers come home to empty cribs and painful memories that never fade. Families belong together in order to sow justice, healing, kinship, and love. Rise up. Repeal ASFA.
Michelle Chan is the founder of California Families Rise, which evolved out of Parents Against CPS Corruption, or PACC, a Bay Area activist group. Michelle started PACC with Shonte Foster after they uncovered that systemic issues of misconduct and inequities existed in the child protection system in San Francisco and beyond: routine violations of state and federal laws, implicit racism and bias, the absolute power, control, and coercion of parents trapped in the system, how the system seemed to prey off the poor and perpetuate trauma and poverty. Both women had open cases and had no one to turn to for help, no one to fight for them to ensure their rights and the rights of their children were upheld. So the two of them embarked on a fool’s mission. The pair launched an aggressive outreach campaign and two months later began protesting the San Francisco Superior Court almost daily, demanding the removal of Judge Nancy L. Davis. Shortly after their first protest on Valentine’s Day 2017, the San Francisco Bay View newspaper invited Michelle to become a regular contributor. Less than eight months after the inception of PACC, Judge Nancy L. Davis retired halfway before the end of her elected term. After PACC’s success in San Francisco, Michelle went on to build a movement in Contra Costa County. PACC’s membership grew to represent hundreds of system-impacted parents and family members. The March for Family Rights protests demanded the resignations of Judges Rebecca Hardie, Lois Haight, and Jill Fannin. After the protests, PACC filed three recall petitions against the judges. Volunteers donated their time on a daily basis for six months gathering signatures. Although they were not successful in gathering the required signatures, the groups efforts led to a Civil Grand Jury investigation and report on Contra Costa Children and Family Services that led to some reforms. PACC’s activism was also influential in the audit of the judge oversight agency- the Commission on Judicial Performance- and the adoption of new judicial ethics guidelines by the California Supreme Court.
Our mission is to end the incarceration of families; to preserve, strengthen, and uplift families; and to transform the systems that perpetuate cycles of poverty, trauma, and family separation. We do this through a community organizing model that empowers, educates, and develops the leadership of system-impacted families, by holding California's child protection system, family court system, and judiciary accountable, and by implementing policy change. Our work lifts stigmas and biases, shifts public perceptions, and creates a space for those struggling through the family court and child welfare systems and also for those at the intersections of child welfare, child loss, and criminal justice.
Our leadership consists exclusively of those who have been impacted by the child welfare and/or criminal injustice systems. We - each of us survivors and fighters -truly understand that poverty and corruption are the beast that feeds the prison and foster care systems, that poverty and corruption are both the root and the endless perpetuation of these systems. Our leadership and membership base represents diverse backgrounds and come from all walks of life. And, we proudly base-build in the poorest areas and outreach to those on the very fringes of society: the extreme poor, the homeless, lgbtq, disabled and mentally-ill- because we believe that if we can inspire the most downtrodden in all of society to rise up and demand change, then we will have an army that will be unstoppable. We are determined. We never ever give up. We are California Rise (formerly Parents Against CPS Corruption)
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This is a chronicle of our past and ongoing efforts on the ground and in the media