About the Author(s)
David Tobis, PhD, is currently a principal of Maestral International (MaestralintL.Com), and was the Executive Director of the Fund for Social Change. For more than three decades he has worked to reform child welfare in New York and the United States. Beginning in 1991 he worked as a consultant to UNICEF and the World Bank to prevent children, the disabled and the elderly from being placed in long-term residential institutions in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. His monograph, published by the World Bank, The Transition from Residential Institutions to Community-Based Services in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union became the basis for the World Bank's strategy in the area. More recently he has worked with UNICEF and various foundations to
strengthen child protection systems in countries throughout the world.
He was previously Director of Human Services for New York City Council President Carol Bellamy. He was a Fulbright scholar to Guatemala and a Revson Fellow at Columbia University. He graduated from Williams College and received a Ph.D. in sociology from Yale University.
"... From Pariahs to Partners: How Parents and their Allies Changed New York City's Child Welfare System, Tobis describes the child protection system's many failings. Troubled families are found everywhere, but . . . as Tobis shows, it comes down hard on poor families with much less serious problems." --New York Review of Books, July 12, 2012
"This labor of love draws on the author's decades of commitment to the cause of children and their families in New York. Tobis nails the argument that - unless they are in extreme danger - children do better with their families than they do in care. Yet the New York child welfare system is, as he sees it, geared towards social control and its own processes, rather than the rights and needs of children and their families. This is a book that speaks truth to power, through the voices of parents who have found the courage to take on the system and have emerged victorious." -- Carol Bellamy, Esq, Chair, Global Partnership for Education; former executive director of UNICEF
"Cities across the country are struggling to improve the way our families are treated. Tobis's book, From Pariahs to Partners, presents the powerful and moving story of how parents collaborated with New York City's government to overhaul its child welfare system. The system has improved dramatically as a result. The book presents a lesson for parents and governments everywhere." -- Cory Booker, JD, Mayor of Newark, New Jersey
"The courage and resilience of parents, especially those besieged by poverty and other stresses, are often ignored and misunderstood. From Pariahs to Partners shows parents' potential for promoting real and sustained reform in child welfare and in mental health, juvenile justice, and other child-serving systems. Parents must be engaged in decisions about their children and empowered as advocates for system reforms. I hope we will embrace this book's call to do so." -- Marian Wright Edelman, President, Children's Defense Fund
"David Tobis' book takes a long, hard look at the history of child welfare in New York City. What he describes is not always pretty. But what is most encouraging is his portrait of the progress made in the last ten years, especially through greater involvement of parents in the system and in their children's lives. May the progress continue." -- John Mattingly, Former Commissioner, The NYC Administration for Children's Services
"Part history, part case study, and part passionate argument for parent participation in child welfare, From Pariahs to Partners is the story of the development and activities of parents' rights organizations inNew York City from the 1990s through the 2000s. Tobis should be praised for offering a proposal and strategy, deriving from his work as an advocate, for improvements in parent involvement in the child welfare system. The strength of the book is in its adherence to a parents-centered perspective,which, if this book is read by policy makers and agency managers, may indeed accomplish advocacy purposes." -John Halloran, Social Service Review