Broken: Transforming Child Protective Services—Notes of a Former Caseworker (Hardcover)

Broken: Transforming Child Protective Services—Notes of a Former Caseworker By Jessica Pryce Cover Image

Broken: Transforming Child Protective Services—Notes of a Former Caseworker (Hardcover)

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"It’s an invaluable insider account of a pressing social issue." - Publishers Weekly

Joining the ranks of Evicted and The New Jim Crow, a former caseworker’s searing, clear-eyed investigation of the child welfare system—from foster care to incarceration—that exposes the deep-rooted biases shaping the system, witnessed through the lives of several Black families.

Dr. Jessica Pryce knows the child welfare system firsthand and, in this long overdue book, breaks it down from the inside out, sharing her professional journey and offering the crucial perspectives of caseworkers and Black women impacted by the system. It is a groundbreaking and eye-opening confrontation of the inherent and systemic racism deeply entrenched within the child welfare system.

Pryce started her social work career with an internship where she was committed to helping keep children safe. In the book, she walks alongside her close friends and even her family as they navigate the system, while sharing her own reckoning with the requirements of her job and her role in the systemic harm. Through poignant narratives and introspection, readers witness the harrowing effects of a well-intentioned workforce that has lost its way, demonstrating how separations are often not in a child’s best interests.

With a renewed commitment to strengthening families in her role as activist, Pryce invites the child welfare workforce to embark on a journey of self-reflection and radical growth. At once a framework for transforming child protective services and an intimate, stunning first-hand account of the system as it currently operates, Broken takes everyday scenarios as its focus rather than extreme child welfare cases, challenging readers to critically examine their own mindsets and biases in order to reimagine how we help families in need.

Jessica Pryce is on faculty at Florida State University’s College of Social Work. For the past fifteen years, she has worked in child welfare from multiple angles, including direct casework, research, teaching, training, and policy development. She has provided training for more than two hundred child welfare organizations, empowering professionals to reimagine their role and their work. She currently lives in Florida, where she partners with child welfare leaders who are working on system-wide culture shifts and organizational change. Pryce holds a master of social work degree from Florida State University and a PhD from Howard University.

“This book is an investigation into what the author says is a biased system that 'disproportionately' targets mothers of color in America and that wreaks havoc on Black families, including separation. It’s an eye-opening tale.”
The Philadelphia Tribune

"This book will appeal to readers interested in social reform and the abolition of the carceral state, and it makes a strong pairing with Dorothy Roberts’ Torn Apart."Booklist

"It’s an invaluable insider account of a pressing social issue." — Publishers Weekly

"Sharing real-life professional experience as well as key insight from caseworkers and Black women’s experiences within the system." — Essence

"Pryce opens readers’ eyes to the systemic racism that is deeply rooted in the system and often creates a pipeline to incarceration." — The Root

“Broken delivers an eye-opening, insider's perspective on the impact of 'standard practices' within the world and work of Child & Family Services. This book should be required reading for every social worker. Using well-researched and documented case histories, Dr. Pryce shows that actions from within an outdated institutional framework designed to protect itself as much as it safeguards a child, can often do more harm than good.” — Virginia Deberry, NYT Bestselling Author of Far From the Tree

Broken is a vital call to protect Black mothers. The stories of the women in this book will lodge themselves in the reader's heart. I couldn't put this book down and I will be thinking about it for a long time to come.” — Andrea Dunlop, author of “Women Are the Fiercest Creatures" 

"In this deeply moving and vulnerable work, Pryce examines the complexities of case work yet the complicity of the workforce in the systemic harm done to families. If you work within the system in any way, stop what you are doing and grab this book. By the end, the questions you ask yourself might just change your life and the lives of those you are trying to help." — Vivek S. Sankaran, coauthor of REPRESENTING PARENTS in CHILD WELFARE CASES (with Martin Guggenheim)

"In this groundbreaking work Jessica shows us how a system designed to protect Black children and families, often ends up harming them. Through powerful everyday stories she shows the fault lines within child protective services and grounds us in new ways to think about and fix this beleaguered system." —  Michael Eric Dyson, New York Times bestselling author of Tears We Cannot Stop