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Jan 17, 2023

Host, Dr. Catherine Cerulli, a professor of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester, is joined by her guest, Mical Raz, MD, PhD, MSHP, the Charles E. and Dale L. Phelps Professor in Public Policy and Health at the University of Rochester, where she also works as an internal medicine physician at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY. Dr. Raz explores themes of Poor Parenting vs. Poor Parents, mandatory reporting, Child Protective Services being used as a surveillance tool rather than a support tool, and how we can reframe and reimagine these systems. The war on poverty isn’t a new concept and historically we blame and punish individuals for being poor. The privilege of place and space affords certain groups to have more autonomy over their decision making when it comes to parenting, while other parents may have to assess risk in a different way due to their lack of privilege within the system. Often, parents are judged based on their parenting decisions and in some cases those decisions are used as evidence of their unfitness to be a parent. In some ways the child welfare system has become a way to police parents and families rather than act as a force to support families in thriving. Dr. Raz explains the criticality of placing focus on how families can be supported and how the system can help them thrive, rather than break them apart. By divorcing the surveillance component from providing support and resources to children and families, we can begin to reimagine the systems in place and rather than punishing parents, reframe how we address the circumstances of parents who are in marginalized groups. Dr. Raz’s key message focuses on the importance of systems level change in response to how we support children, parents, and family systems overall. She also challenges us to consider how we can give more autonomy to parents without fear of punishment through providing the tools families need to thrive. It is important to not confuse markers of poverty with markers of bad parenting.