“Stop-and-Frisk” for Caregivers: How Expanded Mandated Reporting Laws Hurt Families

A new article out in Truth-Out quotes Executive Director Charity Tolliver about the realities of mandated reporting. Some key quotes:

  • “These expansions of mandated reporting are often seen by the public as unquestionably beneficial, but they are rife with consequences.”
  • “Expanding mandated reporting is like stop-and-frisk,” Dorothy Roberts, author of Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare and a law professor at University of Pennsylvania, told Truthout. “Because of individual and institutionalized racial bias in child maltreatment reporting, like the bias in police surveillance, these seemingly neutral practices that are supposed to increase safety end up unjustly punishing people of color.”
  • “Tolliver does the math. “In Illinois, it costs $40,000 – $42,000 a year to keep a child in foster care, yet most families where that child lives are living below the poverty line.” She says it would make an “extraordinary difference” for that family to have access to even a portion of these resources. “
  • “‘We aren’t solving anything by removing kids,” Tolliver said. “Most will not go back to homes that are healthier or stronger. Rather, the state has done damage, pulling parents from their jobs, placing them in a panic mode and under surveillance, and not investing in families.'”

See more: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/41096-stop-and-frisk-for-caregivers-how-expanded-mandated-reporting-laws-hurt-families


Good riddance George Sheldon.

Black on Both Sides is relieved to hear that the Director of DCFS in Illinois is stepping down. George Sheldon, in his brief time in Illinois, implemented a number of policies intended to massively expand the range of DCFS in Illinois, without addressing the racial disparities we see in DCFS. His leadership saw the introduction of the dangerous bill HB 3288, which remains in the Illinois Congress, and would expand mandated reporting to all citizens. In addition, several tragic incidents, including the death of children in care and on whom DCFS reports had been made, raised questions about the priorities of the agency.

We are clearly not the only people who have concerns about Sheldon’s tenure, as the article states:
“DCFS Inspector General Denise Kane said earlier this month that her office and the Office of the Illinois Executive Inspector General have opened a joint investigation into some of the agency’s actions under Sheldon.”

While he may move on to a comfy non-profit job in Florida, we in Illinois are left with his mess – and still fighting HB 3288.

Read more here: http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/with-spotlight-on-semajs-death-dcfs-director-resigns/

No to HB3288

A new bill introduced in the Illinois House is a direct threat to the safety and stability of Black families and the wellbeing of Black children. This bill, HB3288, would expand Mandated Reporter status to ALL Illinois residents – taking an already broken system, and widening its reach. If you’re interested in getting involved on fighting this bill and the #FosterCaretoPrison pipeline, please reach out to us. #NOtoCriminalization #NOtoHB3288 Thank you Holly Krig for the image.


Refusing To Be Complicit in our Prison nation: Teachers Rethinking Mandated Reporting

“Refusing To Be Complicit in our Prison nation: Teachers Rethinking Mandated Reporting” – By Erica Meiners & Charity Tolliver

BBS Executive Director Charity Tolliver and School to Prison Pipeline scholar and activist Erica Meiners recently published a paper on the role of teachers as Mandated Reporters in the journal Radical Teacher.

“Teachers are mandated reporters who are required by law to report suspected negligence and abuse. While on paper this charge looks neutral, this essay illustrates why teachers should rethink their roles and organize against mandated reporting laws. To teach to ensure that all Black Lives Matter requires refusing to be complicit in the mechanisms that contribute to the destruction of too many families and communities.”

Read the full article: http://radicalteacher.library.pitt.edu/…/r…/article/view/286

#BlackMamasMatter Community Baby Shower

In October 2016 we hosted our first ever #BlackMamasMatter Community Baby Shower, where 40+ moms, parents, kids, and community members joined us for an afternoon of gifts, community, games, self-care and giveaways.


These drop-in events provide space for new or soon-to-be moms that celebrates them and their bundles of joy, while providing support and resources they may need. We hold these events in neighborhoods with high levels of DCFS involvement.

HUGE Thank yous to our event co-sponsors, Moms Rising and Blocks Together!

Check out more photos on our Facebook Page!

Next Community Baby Shower will be held in Spring 2017. To get involved, email blackonbothsides2013@gmail.com


By: Jaz Walker, Youth Organizer, Black On Both Sides

In an effort to celebrate black motherhood, Black On Both Sides, Blocks Together and MomsRising.org held their first community baby shower; #BlackMamasMatter at Blocks Together Chicago (BT Chicago), 3711 W. Chicago Ave.

A huge sign that read, “Black Mamas Matter” posted outside BT Chicago caught the neighborhood’s attention as parents began to walk in with their children.  The room was filled with diapers, baby carriers, co-sleepers, toys and clothes donated from the community to the community. Cranial Sacral body massages for the mothers and traditional baby shower games along with donations, information and resources.

“Black mamas matter, and people need to understand that we love our children and work hard to take care of our kids and shouldn’t be discriminated against by DCFS”, said Lottie Steele, Lead Organizer for Black On Both Sides’ parent cohort.

Black On Both Sides is a grassroots organization that “highlights the voices and experiences of black foster youth while launching a direct action campaign to address the root causes of the foster care to prison pipeline.”  They challenge the Foster Care System by targeting the judicial system and strive to hold The Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), accountable for racial discrimination, targeting and criminalizing black mothers and separating families.

Most black households are headed by black women and while DCFS holds a narrative that black women cannot care for their families, this form of state violence disregards and further dehumanizes black women.

Black On Both Sides understands that DCFS’s approach to dealing with family issues does not adequately address or even acknowledge the society-wide issues black families face.

The #BlackMamasMatter Community Baby Shower embraced black motherhood and invited parents to a weekly parent meeting at the BT Chicago office every Saturday at 2 P.M.

“Black On Both Sides’ parent cohort meets every Saturday. We are planning and strategizing on educating ourselves and our communities about DCFS investigation, and we want to grow in being able to support each other”, said Lottie Steel, Parent Organizer for Black On Both Sides.

Mothers in attendance were encouraged to build with one another beyond the baby shower in an effort to form a solid network of parents in Chicago supporting one another against criminal authority as well as they prepare for their next event, #ParentingWhileBlack: A Community Forum for Black Parents.

“I like that even though the sign said #BlackMamasMatter, the fathers were eager to come inside and support the movement. It’s also a reminder that things we create outside of our own beliefs about our community, genuinely give you hope that there’s still opportunity for you to build community with folks”, said Sade Richmond, mother and Chicago resident.

Support the movement by liking these orgs on social media:

Black On Both Sides


Blocks Together Chicago




2017 Summer Internships for Foster youth: COMING SOON

YOUTH IN CHICAGO! Looking for a *paid internship* this Summer? Black on Both Sides is looking for Passionate, Motivated, and Energized youth who are currently or formerly involved in the Foster Care System to join our third leadership cohort! The internship takes place in Chicago, Illinois.

FIND OUT MORE :  More information will be posted soon about Summer 2017 internships! Stay tuned.


If you have questions or would like to talk it through with someone, please reach out to us at blackonbothsides2013@gmail.com.


Abused, Neglected, & Suspended: School Discipline’s hidden discrimination

A recent report from the Consortium on Chicago School Research highlights not only that African American students are facing school discipline at higher rates, but also that students with a history of abuse and neglect are at higher risk for school suspensions as well.  Some key quotes:

  • Students with a history of abuse or neglect are at particularly high risk for being suspended. For the first time, researchers were able to combine discipline data with child welfare data and found that almost a third of the students with a history of abuse or neglect were suspended in the 2013-14 school year.
  • Students with a history of abuse or neglect are concentrated in schools with high suspension rates; in almost all high-suspending high schools, at least 10 percent of students had a documented history of abuse or neglect.

This report highlights not only the known links between our schools and the criminal justice system, but also the connections that we have described as the “Foster Care to Prison Pipeline” – a constellation of risk factors, social & legal structures, laws and policies that link the Child Welfare & Foster Care systems to the Criminal Justice system in a multitude of ways.

Find the full report here: Suspending Chicago’s Students: Differences in Discipline Practices Across Schools