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

Amistad: HarperCollins. Mar. 2024. 288p. ISBN 9780063036192. $28.99. POL SCI
Pryce (social work, Florida State Univ.) reveals what it’s like to work as a child protective services (CPS) investigator, the differences that parents’ race and class make in outcomes, and the effects of CPS investigations on Black women. The book recounts Pryce’s three years as a Florida CPS investigator before she became an academic and an advocate for reform. While written for professionals in the social work industry, her accessible book presents case studies of wrenching decisions made under intense time constraints. She cites rigid policies, the pressure to remove children from their families, and the different standards employed for Black families and white families. CPS, Pryce argues, is ill-equipped to deal with the racist foundations of child welfare, the housing crisis, and mental-illness stigmas. The book concludes with discussion questions regarding the featured case studies, which challenge readers to consider how CPS could have handled the situations differently.
VERDICT Parents and child-welfare professionals will benefit from this excellent work that gives an insider’s view of child protective services. Pair with We Were Once a Family by Roxanna Asgarian.
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