Nassau County Executive Laura Curran recently praised Los Angeles County after the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to support a pilot project that tests “blind removal,” a foster care removal process first pioneered in Nassau County. Los Angeles is home to America’s largest child welfare system and joins several counties in following Nassau’s lead.
Under Blind Removal Meetings in Nassau County, when Child Protective Services (CPS) is considering removing a child from their home, CPS will delete all names, ethnicity, neighborhood, race and any other identifiable information from the documents. Instead, staff attending the blind removal meetings focus on what happened, relevant family history, and parents’ ability to protect and care for the child. The goal of this approach is to create better outcomes for children and to decrease the overall number of children removed from homes by diminishing racial and class bias.
After seven years of implementation, minority children being removed from homes decreased from 57 percent to 21 percent. The county has led several trainings for Social Services workers across the state to train them on the Blind Removal Meeting process.
“I’m proud that our work in Nassau County is helping improve outcomes for the many youngsters in the child welfare system across our country,” Curran said. “We will continue to pursue innovative solutions that make Nassau a better and fairer place for all our residents.”
In 2019, Curran recognized Maria Lauria, director of the Nassau County Department of Social Services (DSS) Foster Care program for pioneering the practice of “Blind Removal.” Lauria, who is from Farmingdale and has worked at DSS for 30 years, was awarded Social Worker of the Year by the New York Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers in 2019.
Professor Jessica Pryce, director of the Florida Institute for Child Welfare at Florida State University, led a TED Talk on Nassau’s Blind Removal Meetings garnering more than 1.3 million online views.
—Submitted by the office of County Executive Laura Curran