Prof. Azzi Lessing Co-Edits CWLA’s Special Issue, “Poverty, Race, & Child Welfare”


In a special double issue of “Poverty, Race, & Child Welfare,” guest co-editors Prof. Lenette Azzi-Lessing and University of Colorado Boulder Prof. Vandra Sinha begin their foreword with the same struggle many have encountered over the past two years: “We couldn’t have envisioned the transformative events that would take place by the time of the issue’s publication. As 2020 went on and the rate of hospitalizations and deaths climbed, so did school closures and job losses, heaping additional stresses and hardships on top of those already experienced by families who are vulnerable—particularly those living in poverty.” 

The COVID-19 pandemic and the confrontation with racism following the killing of George Floyd particularly highlighted how poverty and racism intersect, including for the millions of families in the child welfare system. However, rather than focus on ineffective past attempts to reform child welfare, this double issue seeks to address new theoretical, practical, and structural actions the child welfare system can take to promote the wellbeing of the most vulnerable children and families. 

Excerpt from “Special Foreword: Family Poverty, Racism, and the Pandemic: From Crises to Opportunity for Transformation” by Profs. Lenette Azzi-Lessing and Vandra Sinha, originally published by the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA):

“As we work to understand and respond to lessons from these unprecedented times, new opportunities for addressing the inequities of poverty and racism are emerging. In recent years, scholars, journalists, and advocates have begun raising important questions about the effectiveness, equity, and unintended consequences of the child welfare system. They have pointed out how decades of new legislation, innovative practices, and evidence-gathering failed to substantially improve the experiences of and outcomes for the hundreds of thousands of children and families ensnarled in this system. The intensified focus on racial and economic injustice that is now present in the public arena brings new opportunities to address concerns about the impacts of the child welfare system on children and families—and, in particular, on families in poverty, Black families, and Indigenous families, who are overrepresented in the child welfare system.”

Read the foreword.

Read the special issue.

Learn More About Prof. Azzi-Lessing’s Research