Unreasonable & Unjust: Fighting DSHS' Employment Ban

Across Washington State, women are unjustly being denied the right to work and thrive in their chosen fields by the Department of Social & Health Services (DSHS).

DSHS bars people with findings of child neglect from working as adult caregivers for 35 years. This may sound reasonable, until you learn about the women fighting this practice.

Take Ana, a mother who has a Child Protective Services (CPS) finding of neglect for being charged with driving under the influence with her child in the car. Her criminal charge was dismissed because she completed probation and treatment, and DSHS never removed her child from her care. Yet the DSHS finding is still on her record. Because of that "finding," Ana is banned for her entire working career from pursuing the job she wants and is qualified to do.

But Ana is fighting back—and she isn't alone. We're advocating with Ana and two other women, Carmen and Natalya, who have been deprived of their right to work as caregivers because of similar—and disputed—findings on their records.

We're fighting this unreasonably harsh practice alongside Ana, Carmen, and Natalya because it is profoundly unfair to them—and because this rule disproportionately impacts women (who comprise 89% of caregivers) and has a particularly negative impact on women of color.

African American and Latinx women are disproportionately employed in home care. These same communities are also disproportionately targeted by CPS—similar to their overrepresentation in the criminal justice system. As Dorothy Roberts wrote, "If you came with no preconceptions about the purpose of the child welfare system, you would have to conclude that it is an institution designed to monitor, regulate, and punish poor families of color."

While we respect DSHS' goals of protecting children and vulnerable adults from harm, we also believe that that the system - and our courts - should take a closer look at the unintended consequences and inequitable impacts of their policies. That's why we filed an amicus brief arguing that the law must recognize that women of color are doubly oppressed by policies like these.

One-size-fits-all rules ignore the realities of women like Ana, Carmen, and Natalya; of women like Christal; and of countless other would-be workers who are denied second chances.

With your support, we will continue to fight for workers and the opportunity for them and their families to thrive.

#economicjustice #Washington #2018